Here you can find everything related to the design, economics, science, technology, philosophy, and politics behind the movement towards the creation of a more sustainable, equitable and prosperous world. The motto here is ”Invent. Invest. Implement.” Why? Because I believe that solving seemingly intractable problems requires that we put our minds (Invent), our money (Invest) and hands (Implement) to work in the direction of our goals.
They beat a drum, they beat a drum:
The sounds were vicious, cruel and false,
A ceaseless din that left us numb.
O how we danced this dizzy waltz
Into a chasm of injustice made!
The cameras gone, death in silence died
Even as we marched in proud parade,
Even as we unearthed our buried lies.
See that simple man in prison held?
The shackles clink, they make a toast!
The drug he did our anger quelled…
Still we imbibe, we inhale, we preach upon the mount
So Judas profits and ne’er to his crime is held account.
Poem written on the 10 year anniversary of the start of the Iraq war
If you are a reader of this blog, you’ve probably heard a lot about social enterprise, social business, social entrepreneurship, corporate social responsibility, B-corporations, triple bottom lines...the list goes on. And if you’ve heard about all this, you might be left with the impression that these trends are vibrant and rapidly growing. You might sense at this point that a ‘But’ is coming, and you’d be right. For all the buzz about new business models for social change, the fact of the matter is that the successful enterprises in this space are few and far between and that it remains exceedingly difficult to start and grow them.
I know, because Capital Good Fund is one such social enterprise (that’s the jargon I prefer to use to refer to us), and I’ve seen firsthand all the barriers to growth. Let’s cover some of these barriers:
In his iconic ‘I Have a Dream’ speech,’ Martin Luther King spoke of the fierce urgency of now--the moral imperative to address injustice in the present as opposed to in some vague, ill-defined future. Further, in his masterpiece ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail,’ he wrote that “For years now I have heard the word ‘Wait!’ It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This ‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.’ We must come to see...that ‘justice too long delayed in justice denied.’”
As the Executive Director of a small, rapidly growing non-profit, I often find myself trying to balance the imperative to solve problems today with the need to think strategically and build the infrastructure needed for scale and growth tomorrow. My obsession with the ‘fierce urgency of now,’ however, had until recently always been rooted in a firm belief that when we put off doing the right thing, we are in many ways creating excuses for denying justice. But recently I’ve been thinking more carefully about why the urgency of now is so ferocious, and I’ve come to a new conclusion: every day that goes by without us solving a problem, the harder that problem becomes to solve. To borrow the parlance of climate change mitigation we are, in effect, ‘locking in’ injustice for years, decades and centuries to come.
The vigilante doffs his mask
To face the fury his secret wrought,
To emerge from the dark, in sunlight bask
And seek the truth his parents sought;
O world that asks but does not answer,
What of this logo seared upon a cloud?
What of this shadow, what of this cancer
Caged in the blood of the human brood?
He walks alone in sorrow’s wake
Pelted with rocks by injustice thrown,
A gauntlet of pain he chose to take:
Dark Knight, will you return to your abode
To reap the world your bravery sowed?
For more on my fascination with the Batman mythology, check out ‘The Dark Knight and Me: An Essay’
“We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.
The thesis of this post is simple and, I hope, provocative: that if you care deeply about a particular social or environmental issue, then you must at least be familiar with many other social or environmental issues. This is due to the increasingly unavoidable link between seemingly disparate challenges, be they economic growth and climate change, health care spending and hunger, or defense spending and education.
I was inspired to write this after reading a phenomenal article in the most recent edition of Time. The article, titled ‘Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us,’ is one of the best pieces of journalism I’ve read in a while. But more importantly, it highlights the fact that the way in which medical products and services--hospital stays, prescription medications, etc.--are priced is egregiously, if not criminally, disconnected from the cost of providing them. In fact, the content of the article is so galling that I found myself unable to read it more than a few paragraphs at a time before my stomach would begin churning and I had to take a break.
A central aspect of my job and life as a social entrepreneur, social crusader and poet is to inspire and empower others to follow their dreams and, in turn, better the world. Indeed, one of my favorite sayings is that there is nothing more beautiful than a life well-lived. Unfortunately, there are so many obstacles to living the lives we wish to lead: societal and parental pressure, the imperative to earn money to pay off student loans, a lack of supports and examples for those seeking to do bold things, and so on.
As a result, far too few people do what it is they truly want to do, and this has horrible consequences for the individual and for society as a whole. After all, in the year 2013 we can no longer justify social or environmental injustice with the argument that we don’t have the capacity to solve them: we have all the technology, the money, the wealth, the examples and the business models needed to eradicate poverty, avoid climate change, and so on. What’s lacking, then, is the will to do so. And as I often argue, there is a significant disconnect between our will and our desire--for how many of us want to see a better world? I’d venture that the vast majority of us long for that. So what’s the problem? Simply put, because we feel incapable of living up to our ideals we often pursue careers that, at best, are neutral and, at worst, negatively impact the world.
A central aspect of my job and life as a social entrepreneur, social crusader and poet is to inspire and empower others to follow their dreams and, in turn, better the world. Indeed, one of my favorite sayings is that…
If you haven’t seen The Dark Knight, there are two things I want you to know: first, that it is an absolute masterpiece, and second, that it resonates very deeply with me. Much of what I write will deal with…
Click here to download a PDF of my complete thesis. Questions and comments are much appreciated!
My masters thesis in Environmental Studies at Brown University looks at how microfinance--the provision of small…