Leon Hartnett, founder Greenlight Innovations
Proud Irishman Leon Hartnett is the founder of the charity Greenlight Innovations, a volunteer led charity focused on bringing people together and encouraging a sense of belonging and community.
Leon is also a radio host and an event organiser responsible for starting a St Patrick’s day festival and popular comic book event for local children. You will also hear how he has taken TEDx Talks to one of the very southern parts of the globe, Invercargill, a city he calls home having moved there from Dublin a decade ago with his wife and young family.
So what is the purpose of Greenlight Innovations?
‘In simple terms it's focused on connecting people and bringing smiles to people's face - create happiness, share ideas and strengthen the community. Sometimes it's a fairly simple things, isn't it? You know like enjoying a nice day or having an ice cream or jumping in a bouncy castle. Yeah, just the simple things of gathering people together. We are volunteer led and we organise events all focused on community building’
You are responsible for taking TEDx to your home town in Invercargill?
‘Yes that’s right. TEDx actually stands for technology, education design and as a global charity that uses the tagline of ideas worth sharing. I've watched TED talks for many years and I thought it would be really good for the community once again it's all about connecting people. It's also about sharing ideas, and it's getting people together to contemplate ideas. So I thought it would be really good to get this down here, you know, in a place like Invercargill’
‘Incredibly our talks have reached 40,000 people worldwide.’
I understand that it was a medical emergency that actually brought you closer to the local community?
‘Yes when my son Finn was three years of age he developed pneumonia and he got to a viral infection at the same time and experienced massive weight loss. He ended up in intensive care. We were really concerned at the time, but one thing I remember is the reaction of local people and we were amazed that people at my work and in the community were just reaching out to check that we were okay’
You started your own St. Patricks Day event?
‘I'm massively proud of being Irish. I struggled that there was nothing done to celebrate our national day in Invercargill and I want my children to have something, you know, that celebrates their heritage. And as I say, there was nothing happening here. So myself and my wife decided to make something happen so we connected with some friends who are local musicians and we just made it happen’
You are also a radio host and have your own show?
‘It’s called Ceol & Craic on Radio Southland, and not surprising it features banter and Irish music. I don't do it live because I'm not I'm not good enough to deal with it to be perfectly honest with you. I just pre record and share some tunes and ideas and I've also had some great interviews. An Irish interest and music show. I've been doing that for maybe about three years now and love doing it’
What’s it like living in Invercargill?
‘I just love it and I really like the fact that it is a small city, I can walk down the street and I can bump into people I know, it actually reminds me of my dad who ran a community paper back in Dublin. When I was a child, a 10 minute walk could take three hours. This is because he would just simply bump into people every few metres and start conversations with everybody. I definitely tend to carry in this tradition and now my children find sometimes to go for a walk through town it becomes a long drawn out obstacle course’
‘I enjoy spending time with people and I love to chat.’
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