We had a summer party like no other

The company summer party.

Often the stuff of legends — “that’s when O’Donnell jumped onto the table…” — it is a brief respite from spreadsheets, sharpies and decks. It conjures thoughts of breaking free from our evil desks to frolic in the park or simply settle into a pub’s back garden for the afternoon. Those are all good and rather glorious things, which we didn’t do at the DHLB London summer party this year.

Bucking tradition, we gave people a summer party job. “Hey guys, we’re gonna not do what you want for summer party. Who’s with me?” Their faces upon arrival said this wasn’t quite what they were expecting. Their faces were also saying that whoever was responsible for this would have an extra special annual review this year. Bravely, and quickly, we explained their seemingly simple task: change the story for the people of London.

DH-UK, Volunteers at work

We asked teams to go out into the world and disrupt, encourage, engage, improve or just have a little fun — change someone’s story for the best. With £50 of change power in their hands, they set out on their mission.

West London was reminded of how brilliant it is to be alive, with one team handing out hundreds of cards that said “You’re awesome” before joining several buskers as backup singers. People around Hyde Park were treated to 15 random acts of kindness by another team, including carrying luggage up the stairs and buying coffee for the next person in line. Wanting to spread the good vibes, one team asked the masses to share a life lesson then tied them to 50 balloons they set free.

DH-UK, summer party

Stories were changed. We had laughs, smiles, confused looks, genuine joy and then a few people who just wouldn’t play along. The people we met often had difficultly processing what we were doing. It turns out that it’s incredibly hard for a stranger to accept something with no strings attached. We found it truly exhausting to constantly engage people who would much rather shuffle along.

Changing the story was incredibly gratifying, which isn’t that big of a surprise. Giving really awakens the feel-good parts in you. As you probably guessed, changing others’ stories changed our own. We bonded. We struggled together. We faced fears. We shared some wonderful moments of humanity. We let down our guard for a while and it was beautiful.

DH-UK, summer party 2

It’s sort of surprising that we tend to bury the power of change in our everyday lives. We get lost in life as usual and forget about this magical volcano of good that’s lies dormant waiting to erupt. Let’s be honest, the world could use some eruptions of good. It’s tough out there in the madness of devastating diseases, spiralling medical bills, aging populations, numerous unmet needs and so much more.

What if we just changed one story every day? Imagine the possibilities.