Ebeling will be next Future in Review speaker
January 13, 2015
Mick Ebeling is an award-winning TV, film and commercial producer. He is also an author and entrepreneur and a philanthropist.
Some of the films his company, The Ebeling Group, has been involved in include "The Kite Runner," "Quantum of Solace" and "Stranger than Fiction," and the TV special, "Yes, Virginia."
He is also fascinated with technology and is the founder of the Not Impossible Foundation, a nonprofit organization that oversees Not Impossible Labs, which works with state-of-the-art technology to create practical solutions to world problems.
One of these items include the Eyewriter, a tool that helped a paralyzed graffiti artist communicate and create art by using eye movements. Another is a series of prosthetic arms and limbs that have helped amputees in Sudan.
The Park City Institute will partner with Strategic News Service to present an evening with Ebeling called "Not Impossible: Technology for the Sake of Humanity" as part of its ongoing Future in Review speaker series.
The event will be held at the Eccles Center Black Box, 1750 Kearns Blvd., on Friday, Jan. 16, at 7:30 p.m.
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Sharon Anderson Morris, Strategic News Service director, will conduct the interview and moderate a question and answer session.
Ebeling told The Park Record that his career as a producer led him to create Not Impossible.
"Essentially, I’ve been telling stories all my professional life as a producer," Ebeling said during a phone interview from his home in Venice Beach, California. "Then I accidentally began telling stories of the work I started doing around social invention and that seemed to be very powerful for the people who saw what we were going.
"I think that what’s made the work we’re doing and inventions so popular, and that’s what made the stories themselves were powerful," he said. "The work we do with Not Impossible is to make sure the stories we tell are in a way that people can resonate with them."
The idea for the Not Impossible Foundation is to use technology for the sake of humanity.
"For me it’s a philosophy and way of thinking," Ebeling said. "You can take technology that exists and look at ways that it can accomplish a fundamental social need."
Many times that’s just reapplying, altering, hacking or breaking and refocusing the purpose of new technology, he said.
Other times it involves writing new codes or making new hardware.
"It’s about looking at all the world’s technology as a giant Lego set and figuring out what you want to build with it," Ebeling said.
Another philosophy is "help one, help many," which is based on two things.
"One, you and I and most of your readers are not of the networth of Bill Gates or Warren Buffet, so it’s a little more difficult for us to tackle things like malaria or world hunger," Ebeling said. "What we can do, however, is we can tackle the hunger of one person, so philosophically, we want to say if everybody helps one person, then we eliminate the problems in the world."
The second part is doing things from a storytelling perspective.
"We always focus on one person at a time," Ebeling said. "The technology we create is, for the most part, is done in open source, which means we give it away. So if we tell a powerful story about a person, people can relate to it and think about using that code or technology to help someone else and that starts a snowball affect."
The Eyewriter started the whole train rolling.
"We saw how powerful it was and saw what happened when you make something and you give it away," Ebeling said. "After that, we knew we needed to keep going this."
That’s what led to Project Daniel.
"I read a story in Time Magazine by Alex Perry about a doctor named Tom Catena," Ebeling said. "When the war broke out in Sudan in 2011, Catena, who was a missionary doctor serving the area, refused to leave the area."
The second part of the article was about a young boy named Daniel Omar who had lost his limbs while tending his family’s cattle.
"He heard a bomb falling and wrapped his arms around a tree to protect himself," Ebeling said. "The tree protected his body, but blew off his arms.
"The last part of the article had Daniel saying, ‘If I could have died, I would have, because now I’m going to be such a burden to my family,’" Ebeling said. "I could not imagine my kids having that kind of feeling of despair, wanting to die because they thought they would become a pain to mom and dad. That was the moment for me."
So, taking the mantra "commit and then figure out how to do it," Ebeling decided to go to Sudan and set up a lab to help create prosthetic limbs by using a 3-D printer.
"When we give these things away, we hope that someone can see what we’re doing and start doing the same thing," Ebeling said.
Last week, Ebeling published this book, "Not Impossible: The Art and Joy of Doing What Can’t Be Done," which is available at Amazon.com and bookstores around the country.
"I talk about things that are out there that have inspired me and that are inspiring Not Impossible," he said. "The book is to serve as a source to remind people that they have permission to go do this.
"You don’t need to come from great financial status, education or expertise to do something for the world," Ebeling said. "The book is more of a reminder to people that if you decide to go do something, that, in itself, is 90 percent of the battle."
The nonprofit is also working on some new projects.
"We have programs and things we are doing right now that helps kids with cerebral palsy to walk again," Ebeling said. "We have programs that are reinventing the wheelchair to make them stronger and more affordable.
"We’re also looking to take what we did with Project Daniel to go to other developing countries and show them what technology is capable of doing," he said. "Our plan is to show them what we do and then we step away and let what we sowed smolder before bursting into flames. We feel that real people can go out and make a difference in the world."
The Park City Institute and Strategic New Services will present Mick Ebeling when he discusses "Not Impossible: Technology for the Sake of Humanity," as part of their ongoing Future in Review speaker series at the Eccles Center Black Box, 1750 Kearns Blvd., on Friday, Jan. 16, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by calling 435-655-3114 or by visiting http://www.ecclescenter.org .