08 June 2006

Social Entrepreneurs: Moving from Dialogue to Action, Part One

"Don't you ever get tired of just reading about things," Violet Bicks asks George Bailey in the film It’s a Wonderful Life. He's on his way to the library to read about the world outside the small town in which he feels stuck. He's at a crossroads in his life. He dreams of breaking out, seeing the world, and creating big things. He dreams of creating lasting, transformational change.

Through much of the film, George is oblivious to the real impact he is having, because he is too busy dreaming about what could have been. The story unfolds until, of course, an angel comes to reveal his true impact by showing what life would have been like without him.

I am thinking about my own work, my writing here on "The Green Skeptic," and the conversations I've been having over the past several months with social entrepreneurs, marketing gurus, management consultants, colleagues, friends, and just plain folk. I have come to the conclusion that there are countless people out there like me, who dream of transformational change. Maybe you are one of us too?

We are CEOs and former CEOs, entrepreneurs and investment bankers, fundraisers and conservationists, poets and pundits, software engineers and soft-ice cream purveyors, mothers, fathers, fourth-graders, and celebrities. Many of us have made a success of something, our own businesses or the businesses of others, and now we want to extend the transformation. But how?

In my professional life, I've worked with many people over the past 15 years, helping match their philanthropic visions with conservation actions. Now I am on the marketing side and am trying to articulate the connections between the great global issues of the day and the real work being done locally and regionally on the ground every day. How can I use these skills to help bring together people who share values and a desire to transform the world?

I'm thinking out loud here. A friend and colleague asked me yesterday, "How do we move from discussion to action?" I get the feeling his real question was more akin to Violet Bicks's query of George Bailey, "Don't you ever get tired of just reading about things?"

George's response in the film is to implore Violet to set off on the adventure. I guess I'm asking the same: let's climb to the top of Mt. Bedford and take some action. What might such action look like? I'll explore that in subsequent posts.

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