We had the good fortune of connecting with Steven Wright and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Steven, what do you attribute your success to?
The two most important factors fueling our success are magic and laughter. Next is resiliency, support and persistence. We are challenging the system on multiple levels – and change is not the natural state of a system – they tend to trend towards self-maintenance. Needless to say, you have to have thick skin to push through the amount of NO’s we have heard. That and institutions expect NGOers to work 4 hours for every 1 hour we can pay ourselves. I am also incredibly lucky to get to work with my best friend – not everybody can say that. We have laughed our way through all the ups and downs, worked with perfect faith towards a noble goal and followed the signs. The magic is real when you follow the heart-map, and there have been multiple instances where it has made itself obvious. Finally and most obvious, none of this would be possible without the love and support of our families, friends and colleagues.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
“Do nothing about me, without me,” is our golden rule. It’s the mantra my wife’s grandmother has instilled in our family. This is different because so much service work can be conducted in a top-down fashion, where experts with resources tend to control decision making in a foreign community not their own. This is challenging, because funding opportunities consistently want to know “what” you are going to create/build. But the truth is that the community knows what they need and want, our job is to get the resources there and maximize impact. Financial sustainability is paramount to good work, but equally important to long-term sustainability is community ownership. It’s not easy, but nobody moves from the barrio to the boardroom the way we do. Throw an international border in there, navigating two culture, languages and governments? It takes a special kind of change agent to challenge the US-MX border’s prohibitive nature towards environmental and social improvements that present mutual benefit. Biggest lessons? Just because we get along with everybody, doesn’t mean everybody gets along with everybody. It’s more important to be effective than right. We need them more than they need us.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Mexicooooooooooo. Northern Baja offers some of the best California you can find. Head to Valle de Guadalupe for a proper steak and oysters at Deckman’s, drink incredible wine with the good people from Lechuza Winery, score some empty waves and get that digital diet on. Sorry SD, the best asset we have isn’t even in the states.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Big shout out to the people of Los Laureles Canyon in Tijuana. We have received so much love and hospitality there and proud to have friends there we now consider family. I also want to thank the migrant community for demonstrating the kind of grit and resiliency that we believe is key to the human future on Earth.
All images belong to 4Walls International.