If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you may have noted a few recent references to Ashoka. I’m about to move from The Nature Conservancy, where I’ve spent the past 15 years (read my reflections on that anniversary from last month: Conservation Mission Success), to Ashoka, the global association of leading social entrepreneurs.
Ashoka was named for the Indian leader who unified the subcontinent in the 3rd century BC. He renounced violence and dedicated his life to social welfare and economic development. The organization was founded in 1980 by Bill Drayton.
Ashoka was built on the simple premise that the most effective way to promote positive social change is to invest in social entrepreneurs, individuals who are devising innovative solutions to the most pressing social issues of the day.
For the past few years I’ve been tracking social entrepreneurs and the growth of this approach to social change. Indeed, it’s one of four focus areas for The Green Skeptic. A year ago, I wrote about the need to move from Dialogue to Action and proposed to step up my efforts to promote social entrepreneurs on this blog. So, now I'm going to take more direct action.
I’m convinced social entrepreneurism is the next big thing: mobilizing individuals with system-changing solutions for the world's most urgent social problems.
There's still a strong environmental component to my interests, obviously; but this move allows me to expand my impact in a more triple-bottom line fashion: economic, environmental, and social.
I’ve also been exploring some of my own ideas for potentially systems-changing action on climate change and energy distribution. Ashoka is the right place for me to explore these ideas for tackling climate change impacts on the poorest of the poor through small-scale, distributed alternative energy options.
It’s a bittersweet farewell, as you may imagine; sort of like leaving home. The Conservancy’s mission is in my DNA, however. I will continue to stay in touch with the Conservancy and many of my colleagues there.
And in some ways, there is a symbolic continuity in this natural growth move for me: I’m trading TNC’s oak leaf logo for Ashoka’s oak tree logo.
Both organizations are dedicated to “innovative solutions that are sustainable and replicable, both nationally and globally.” Ashoka is built upon the idea that individuals can effect social change by being empowered to act at the local level while promoting social change on a global scale.
I’ll be joining Ashoka after Labor Day and will keep you posted on this and other developments in the social entrepreneur space here on The Green Skeptic.