Thursday, December 23, 2004

Are You a Change Maker?

Happy Holidays everybody! I am ready for a relaxing Christmas weekend in my hometown of Bethlehem, PA. It's "Christmas City USA" and worth visiting in December if you're ever nearby and curious for an 18th century Moravian take on Christmas. You'll love the hundreds of Moravian stars hung above front doors all across town. And you can marvel at the gigantic electric star that sparkles from a nearby hilltop and guides wise people of all kinds to the growing industrial parks emerging from the rubble of Bethlehem Steel.

Before I go, let me recommend a good read --

Check out the latest issue of Fast Company. You can recognize it on the newsstands when you spot Malcolm Gladwell's big wooly afro, which is featured on the cover. Gladwell's unruly haircut is actually central to his next big book (you'll never guess why, though). I love Gladwell, and Fast Company's cover story is a good profile, but the story made me a bit sad for the true founders of SNA who now stand in the long, long, shadow of "The Tipping Point."

Also in the issue, Keith Hammonds has written a great article, "A Lever Long Enough to Move the World," about Ashoka and its visionary founder Bill Drayton.

Drayton's quest is to bring the world's citizen sector to life. He's trying to recitfy a couple hundred years of over-focus on the corporate sector, dating from the Industrial Revolution. How to achieve such a monumental task? With the power of networking, of course. Ashoka is a "21st century United Way" that identifies social entrepreneurial fellows and creates a world-problem-solving network through their combined expertise. Wow!

Here's a passage from the article that both conveys the scope of Drayton's vision and invites all of us to join the quest. Are you ready to accept Drayton's invitation?

Drayton was meeting two years ago with eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, whose Omidyar Network ultimately committed to investing $20 million over five years in Ashoka. Drayton described Ashoka's central goal -- to speed and make possible the emergence of an entrepreneurial citizen sector. Omidyar pressed: "That's an intermediate goal. What are you really after?" It was a good question, Drayton realized.

And he thought, We have this network of entrepreneurs, all of them seeding social innovation. "That is changing a lot of things, upsetting local patterns, weakening existing structures, weakening the idea that things are the way they are. It's an invitation for people to step up and do things differently. That first change touches a series of people who weren't doing this before. They're not passive anymore. They're full citizens, change makers."

As of right then, Ashoka embraced a new goal: "Everyone a change maker."


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