Some 60 keynote speakers from around the world gathered virtually at “Goodstock: Being Good is a State of Mind” on March 21 to explore key topics, case studies and experiences centered around doing good and being good. The online conference drew an international audience of thousands of people, driven by the involvement of activists, advocates and volunteers who strive to better the world.
To open the international virtual event, a special interview was held with Shari Arison, the driving force behind Goodstock and the initiator of Good Deeds Day, which is an annual celebration of doing good activities involving millions of people in more than 100 countries across the globe.
Shari Arison leads the Arison Group, a global business and philanthropic group that invests in ventures that provide added value to people, society, the economy and the environment.
“If we put the focus on what’s good in the world – and there is a lot of good in the world, we just need to put more focus on it – then that’s what’s going to grow,” she said in an interview.
“Where you put your intention, that’s what grows. Goodstock gives a lot of light and hope to people who see that there is a lot of good in the world, and by doing it virtually, we can reach so many people, connect people, unite people and change what is talked about. What we need is to put the focus on the good – and we need to understand that by doing this, we bridge people.”
Jason Arison, chairman of The Ted Arison Family Foundation, which houses Ruach Tova, organizers of Good Deeds Day, said in the event’s closing speech, “Even in these challenging times, if you know where to look, you will find goodness, humanity and hope. We have heard so many examples of this here today. Good Deeds Day is a day of celebration that reminds us that doing good is a state of mind and a choice we must make daily. I am sure that our mutual efforts and dedication will have an impact, and the ripple effect will inspire acts of kindness throughout the world.”
In a session about implementing values in business to cultivate good, David Arison, impact investor, philanthropist, executive chairman of The Doing Good Model and VP Global Relations at Arison Investments, said, “A business should be used as a force for good, serving the community, employing the community, sourcing locally and providing that bridge over the gap of necessity being within people’s lives and the environment.”
Also speaking at Goodstock were Peter Singer, author and Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University; Ahmed Talib Al Shamsi, CEO, Emirates Foundation; Ni’cola Mitchell, founder of Girls Who Brunch Tour, writer and Forbes Change Maker; Justin Aldrich Rockefeller, head of Impact, Addepar; Ziv Shilon, entrepreneur, lecturer, and social activist; Gary Dixon, president of Random Acts of Kindness; Nichole Cirillo, executive director, International Association for Volunteer Effort; Orly Wahba, founder, Life Vest Inside; Doron Almog, founder and chairman of ADI Negev-Nahalat Eran, and 2016 Israel Prize Laureate; and Owen Fitzpatrick, best-selling author and psychologist.
The lineup of leaders from several countries discussed key themes around goodness and genuine acts of loving-kindness, which were highlighted in six main plenary sessions: Leading Change Through Volunteering; Being Good Is Good Business; Sustainable Development Goals: 10 Years to Go; Education: The New Generations of Good Doers; What it Means to “Be Good”; and Good Cities.
Additional compelling breakout sessions took place, enabling participants to get together in smaller groups and engage in practical workshops on topics such as improving, creating and implementing virtual programs; changing the world through sports; how helping others can improve oneself and boost one’s happiness; providing possibilities for advancing underprivileged children; and doing good for the environment through volunteering.
Ahmed Talib Al Shamsi, CEO of the Emirates Foundation, who advocates enabling children to practice volunteering, said, “Sometimes it’s not easy to preach or instill values in young individuals unless they practice it as a way of life. In this global world, we need these values, especially in terms of inclusivity. How do we respect other faiths, other nationalities, other perspectives? If children are brought up with these notions, and we pass it on to the next generation, imagine where the world could be a few years from now.”
Arik Ze’evi, Olympic Medalist and founder of the Israeli Foundation for Olympic Excellence, talked about spreading good and kindness by turning challenges and limitations into opportunity in sports, saying, “I am trying the reduce the gap through sports… kids need to find what they are best at and do their best in order to fulfill it.”
Adi Altschuler, founder, and CEO of Inclu, founder of the Krembo Wings Youth Movement, Israel’s only youth movement in Israel for children and young adults with special needs, and founder of Zikaron Basalon, said, “For me, it’s about understanding that diversity is an asset, not a burden. Seeing the diversity within every person is the way.”
Goodstock is the largest-ever virtual event of its kind to expand goodness globally, and it was held ahead of Good Deeds Day 2021, which will take place on April 11 in more than 100 countries worldwide. Good Deeds Day is the annual peak event of year-round activities of good, benefiting people and the planet since 2007. Thousands of projects will involve millions of people who choose to give of themselves and do good for others, as their heart desires.
This article was written in cooperation with Ruach Tova.