Innovation can come from anywhere and any age. This braille printer is pretty fantastic, and its inventor is even more fantastic.
He just introduced himself, told us about his family, and got one of our pigs.
Jessica Vanderberg, 32, director of Foxy & Winston’s print shop and design studio in Red Hook, about Mayor Michael Bloomberg going into her store.
Bloomberg had coffee with small business owners in Red Hook and folks who have been instrumental in rebuilding the community post-Sandy. I think he’s doing a great job with recovery and rebuilding efforts by listening first, planning with his team second, and only then taking action.
But social entrepreneurs alone cannot change the world. They need artists, volunteers, development directors, communications specialists, donors, and advocates across all sectors to turn their groundbreaking ideas into reality. They need fundraisers, supporters who can change policies, someone to create a brochure describing their work. If everyone wants to start a new organization, who is going to do all the work?
The question remains: If there is real demand for fresh food in food deserts, why don’t supermarkets open up there? Why don’t they regard them as food emerging markets? Well, it takes two things: innovative businesspeople who are willing to pursue opportunities where others see only problems — and creative government subsidies to make the economics work.
Bornstein’s article in today’s New York Times explores the demand for healthy food, some current approaches to the access problem, and the context for implementing new strategies. As always, he hit the nail on the head.
Kari Saratovsky - the originial @socialcitizen - launches new strategy consulting company geared towards millennial engagement
KDS Strategies provides solutions to national and local organizations with a focus on innovative program design, strategic communications, and social media strategy development, all with a unique understanding of next generation engagement. From KDS’s first blog post:
With your help, we will begin to fill this space with authentic conversations that inspire generosity (giving and sharing of new ideas, platforms and approaches) with a fun and refreshing approach. My focus at least for now, will center on how the rising generation of Millennials are driving change in a way that we have yet to fully see or appreciate across our institutions. These changes are due in large part to the rapid advancements in technology – but there’s also an entrepreneurial drive and desire to find meaning in our work that is playing a large part in how Millennials are influencing the organizational culture of institutions.
I think Kari has tremendous ideas and influence throughout the social good-driven world, and I’m looking forward to seeing the projects that her company signs on to. I’m guessing that the blog part of her page, too, will provide high-level, engaging commentary and conversation surrounding key issues, so you heard it hear folks… follow it!
Warby Parker Annual Report - Glasses for Everyone!
The report is out and the stats are fun; read all about the 2011 year through the lens of my favorite glasses company ever here. They include stats about the state with the best eyesight, the number of monocles purchased, carbon emissions, company culture in terms of bagels, top styles, and more!
Pay attention. This is going to be big.
There’s a pretty great new website called www.wethelobby.com. You should probably share it with all of your friends, because it’s a model that might actually make a decent dent in advancing important arguments for and against proposed legislation. It gives a productive megaphone to the 99% who can’t afford to spend thousands of dollars to have their own lobbyist on the hill, because let’s be honest, access to our government officials by individuals isn’t as simple as it should be. And, lobbyists are the chief educators outside of each officials staff, so their voices (mostly) have credence. They know how to talk so legislators will listen, and can finesse an argument in a way that an unexperienced advocate might not have the knowhow to do.
So how does it work that you get represented by a legit lobbyist in Washington about an issue that you care about by only contributing whatever amount you can? The model is powered by crowdsourced funding of causes nominated by fellow contributors. Similar to the Kickstarter model, a fundraising goal is set, people contribute any amount towards whatever cause(s) they want, they only pay their pledge if the fundraising goal is reached, and those causes that complete their fundraising goals move forward to lobby. While Kickstarter’s projects are almost all a physical product, We The Lobby’s product is to make sure a strong lobby on ill-represented issues is supported. Simple. Smart. Hopefully successful.
I love this type of pragmatic social entrepreneurship, and look forward to watching it take off!
Women worldwide share in the
joy annoyance biological fact of getting their period about once a month. However, women worldwide do not share affordable access to proper sanitary napkins or comparable products; in fact, crumpled newspapers, used rags, and leaves are often worn by poor women and can lead to infection and social discomfort. Arunachalam Muruganantham, an Indian inventor, has done amazing work to change that through impressive research and engineering. Of course, talking about periods had its costs, but it’s really thrilling that his dedication and creative approaches paid off in making an affordable, well-designed sanitary napkin that can be produced and sold within communities with a new manufacturing device. Running this machine and selling the napkins will create jobs, and women will be able to better take care of their bodies. Muruganantham’s vision is that India will be a 100% napkin-using country, and that the model will be scaleable beyond that.
Social entrepreneurship is the best kind. Period.
Millennials with Gumption
I recently had the pleasure of attending two sessions at the Mobilize.org Millennial Summit with ~100 other Millennials with do-gooder visions and pragmatic solutions. Some, like Daniel, Mike, and Lana, already are making a huge dent in leading our generation to make giving a habit with substantial impact, and others like Marc, who have done some neat stuff, are continuing to become scholars in service and leadership. Some, like Allison, Jose, Chris, and Cliff, have great twitter feeds for their passions that I now follow and learn from. Still others, like the Team Rubicon guys, fell into their disaster relief model and ran with it; bringing it to admirable scale in just under 3 years.
The first session that I attended featured four 20-somethings who all started a social enterprise or nonprofit talking about aspects of the experience. Team Rubicon, for instance, discussed integrity: what it means, some difficult situations they had experienced, and how to make sure that integrity is part of the business plan. Sarah, the cofounder of Knowledge as Power, spoke about everything that can go wrong and make you want to quit, but how to stick to a vision while pragmatically refining goals as necessary and tapping into all available resources. Each speaker was introduced by a member of the Mobilize.org team, and it really highlighted the deep relationship that they have with each participant that goes far beyond the grant that a team might receive.
There was a 25 minute break before the next session, so I went to Starbucks with several participants. I spoke with some about their involvement with mobilize.org, and they couldn’t say enough good things about the summits, both in terms of connections made and advice received. They keep coming back because” it would be a loss not to”. Business cards were flying, questions about “why do you do it?” were being sincerely posed across lines of geography and program area, and plans to connect after the summit were inked onto calendars.
The next session was a more intimate (~16 people) breakout to discuss social enterprise in the future. There was a lot of diversity of opinions and experience in the room, and it showed as folks discussed everything from the merits and pitfalls of Apple’s successful business model (which brushes off charity and perhaps too environmentally friendly production of materials) to how to best structure an innovative idea in a way that makes the risk marketable to funders. During the loose panel / conversation, people were also referencing early conference speakers very specifically, which to me showed a very comprehensive agenda that was resonant with participants. Not only was it a good conversation, but people certainly left with a refined thought process on solutions to social problems and their role(s) in doing so. They broadened their understanding of social entrepreneurship as each of an idea, a model, and a goal by integrating others’ thoughts and experiences. I enjoyed speaking with the StartingBloc, Nexus: Global Youth Summit, and One Percept Foundation folks after this about their role in the sector, and found a surprising level of awareness that they’re doing something big coupled with confidence to keep learning and improving.
I was in the middle of writing this blog post - still without the right word to describe the individuals in attendance - when I shamelessly watched The Holiday and Eli Wallach’s character explained gumption best: In the movies we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. Leading ladies [or gentlemen!] have gumption. Everyone at this conference has gumption and will undoubtably create something positive and innovative to impact the world.
Harmless Harvest Coconut Water Hits Stores TODAY!
Starting today, you can sample and buy Harmless Harvest Coconut Water in your local Whole Foods store*. I had the pleasure of trying some today, and it was delicious! The product’s clean, refreshing taste is a direct consequence of the company’s philosophy, which sets a high standard of well-being for both the supply and the client (you). There are no additives, and it’s a very homegrown operation that I feel excited to support. Further, it fits into a larger portfolio of Harmless Harvest products and agroforestry innovation. Go pick some up, and I’m sure Justin, one of the lovely founders pictured below, would be thrilled to hear from you.
*Right now, you can only purchase this product in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut Whole Foods stores, but it will be nationwide later this fall.