12 June 2006

Social Entrepreneurs: Moving from Dialogue to Action, Part 2

A friend and colleague said to me the other day, "Transformation is upon us, but what are we transforming into? How do we have more influence over the future direction?"

This can be about our organizations, our communities, or our larger world. Transformation is transformation.

What are the values we share and that can be brought to flower in a world of need? What are the critical issues, local, global or, to use Tom Friedman's term, glocal, that need to be addressed in the world?

And what is the intersection between our values, the community's needs, and the potential to transform life on Earth as we know it?

Three things are at the top of my list of concerns these days:

1. Mitigating and adapting to Climate Change if we can't stop it (we can't);
2. Improving the lives of the poorest of the poor by increasing their access to markets and ensuring the safety net of ecosystem services upon which they depend; and
3. Connecting people with on-the-ground solutions with investors who can make it happen.

If you're reading this post, chances are you know I have been writing about much of this on this blog for the past year and a half, and I've featured some fine examples of how good work is getting done. Amazing people are doing amazing things out there.

I have also talked with a number of people who want to take action but don't quite know how. All of which leaves me pondering: What is it that will make it all come together? What can I do to make a difference?

I am an action-oriented person. Conversation is fine up to a point. After a time, however, I get itchy for action. Sound familiar to you?

So my questions are: How can we get from dialogue to action? What do we need to do to clarify shared values, bring people together, and inspire action? And how can we make this transformation happen now?

What novel approaches are being deployed by the folks William Easterly, in his critique of foreign aid solutions, White Man's Burden, calls "Searchers"? How do we share this knowledge so it can be reapplied to other localities, to solve other local problems that may add up to addressing a global issue?

What are the feedback mechanisms we need to employ to ensure that we get feedback to people who need it and to inform refinement of both process and action?

With that in mind, I have a proposition to make:

I'm looking for a few searchers or "scouts" to help mark the path into a transformational future.

Our collective efforts at a local or regional level will provide insights that can be shared as part of a larger learning process that begins with dialogue, moves to action, returns to dialogue, and turns back into action.

My action is to help extend the lessons learned from those searchers or scouts who are taking action to a larger community and to deepen our dialogue.

Therefore, I pledge to provide a platform for such ideas here on The Green Skeptic and, if the groundswell grows, perhaps we can co-create another blog.

As my friend suggested, and I paraphrase, sharing learning from the hundreds, if not thousands of "glocal" efforts out there can provide the means for more rapid adaptation.

Like a living organism, we can take feedback from our environment and change to meet the challenges we face. In this way, we actually become the transformation we seek.

Let's start a dialogue. Please comment if you have something to contribute. And let's move from dialogue to action.

Read the first part of this post: Part One

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Anonymous said...

hello green skeptic tm,

nice sentiments, man.

have you heard about the climate camp in the uk ?


we are doing the camp the way
we want to do life, low carbon
and high democracy, local cells
and global message.

there will be poetry. if you
want to come to camp virtually,
send us a poem to read out,
something inspiring...

one planet,


The Green Skeptic said...

How do you draw searchers to your site so that others can learn from their experience and in turn take action?

-I'm just starting out on this path and, thus far, searchers have arrived at the site from a variety of links on other web sites or through Google searches. I am looking for every opportunity to spread the word through others, using permission markwting techniques. I have also been asked to write an article about this effort for a web-based journal that will reach a wider audience.

How do you mount the critical mass or the groundswell?

-Good question. I am looking for ways to expand this conversation through social naetworking sites, like gather.com and zaadz. In addition, the new squidoo lens has generated additional correspondence. I think Seth Godin's "Flipping the Funnel" concept will be most effective -- see his web site (sethgodin.com) for his free ebook on the subject.

I too would like to generate action in a similar manner around my area of interest (mythology and a resurgence of feminine archetypes).

-Cool subject. I wish you all success. Who are some of the authorities in the field? Carolyn Heilbrun, Pinkes-Estes, others?

So is there a model or a path to follow in creating a platform of dialogue that moves to action in the vein of becoming?

-I think we're blazing this path right now. Some of the viral marketing cases lay the groundwork as do earleier social movements. The Ashoka group has done a remarkable job of uncovering stories and social entrepreneurs, but it's taken maybe 20 years to do so. I think the new movement of Internet communities should accelerate this becoming, as people seek out the communities of their interest.

I would like to hear your thoughts on this and how to link with others, regardless of our differentiating concerns, who are influencing transformation.

-I am happy to continue this dialogue in a way that will mutually support our goals. Let me know if you have other ideas.