[On April 19, Caroline & Haney Armstrong hosted a beautiful event at their home in the Castro District of San Francisco in support of Atlas Corps. The event was attended by Atlas Corps Fellows including Marina Bulavskaia (Russia, Host: SparkAction) and Wafaa Heikal (Egypt, Host: Meedan Labs); Atlas Corps Young Trustee Yvette White; and Local Ambassadors, Host Organizations, community organizations, friends of Atlas Corps, and those wanting to learn more. The following are Haney Armstrong’s introductory remarks.]

GUEST POST: Haney Armstrong

I connected with Atlas Corps about 10 years ago when I was working for the Omidyar.net online community. At first the name seemed a bit ambitious, as I imagined Atlas Corps supporting the Earth and sky on its shoulders.    

But I was immediately attracted to the idea that we in the U.S. could be doing a bit more listening than talking, and that everyone benefits by interacting with people outside our normal circles.  At Omidyar, I became friends with Mamer Ajak – one of the lost boys of Sudan. Forming that personal bond greatly increased my empathy for his part of the world.   

Fast forward 10 years. Many people in Western countries are responding to insecurity by separating from the rest of the world.  The result is that what was then the attractive proposition of Atlas Corps, now seems very critical.

The map of the world that Atlas Corps refers to now seems like a piece of fabric that is under constant pressure of tearing.  And I imagine the Fellows as metal threads that are woven in to resist that ripping apart.  

These days, that image of a man holding up the world seems less pretentious. And let’s tweak it a bit, and imagine a similar figure but with arms wrapped around the globe, holding back the forces that threaten to break it apart.  In the current state of the world, that image of Atlas Corps seems appropriate.