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NI16: The Future Is Ours if We Accept the Challenge

By: Bianca Buliga, Content Curator

 

Yesterday, we all woke up to a new President-Elect. Donald Trump’s unexpected victory over Hillary Clinton on Tuesday night had people across the world glued to their TV screens, contemplating the uncertain implications of the outcome. Regardless of individual political affiliations or beliefs, it is imperative for us to come together as one nation and world to create positive change.

 

The weekend before the election, SEED SPOT representatives attended the Net Impact Conference in Philadelphia. Gathering global leaders engaged in sustainable social and environmental impact, Net Impact’s motto was to “Make History”. Liz Maw, CEO of Net Impact, kicked off the three-day conference by stating that NOW is the time for change.

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Addressing issues from racial equality to climate change, Net Impact’s keynote speakers included: Alicia Garza, the co-founder of the #BlackLivesMatter movement; Chad Dickerson, the CEO of Etsy; Ahmad Ashkar, CEO and founder of the Hult Prize; and Meika Hollender, the co-founder of Sustain Natural, among many other talented souls. Each speaker brought a diverse perspective to the table, and encouraged attending undergraduates, graduate students, and professionals to contemplate their roles in doing well by doing good.

 

Now is the time to support the dreamers, to reach out to community leaders, and to let our voices be heard by solving the pressing issues that need our attention. We CAN create a brighter and more inclusive future. Here’s how:

 

ENGAGE IN RADICAL SELF-CARE

 

On the pathway to positive social impact there are a number of potholes that we can fall into. Negativity consumes us – from media outlets to social media platforms to challenging conversations with people we love. How can our dreams of hard-hitting change be carried through when we are serving from an empty vessel? Take a break! In fact, SCHEDULE a break into each and every day. Block off an hour to breathe, to meditate, to go for a jog, to detox from social media, and to hug those who support and cherish you. Rather than wasting valuable time gloating or mourning, immediate self-care builds strong and empowered individuals ready to DIG IN.

 

RE-THINK THE STATUS QUO

 

Our country’s democracy offers us the privilege of participating in the political process – a privilege that was exercised by approximately 124 million people casting a ballot for our next president. However, with about 241 million people of voting age in the United States, that measures out to just over fifty percent turnout. What happened? To what can we owe this startling disparity? And more importantly, how we can we change these numbers in elections to come?

 

It is important to note that voting is not the only way to influence our country. Direct action, coalition building, community organizing, putting pressure on elected officials, and donating our time and money to change-making organizations are all highly effective methods of creating the world we want to live in. Democracy is not easy – it can be messy and complicated. However, we have the immense power to mold it according to our visions of a safer and more inclusive system.

 

BUILD A SOCIAL ENTERPRISE

 

SEED SPOT exists because of its vibrant community of movers and shakers – individuals who saw an institutional void and jumped at the opportunity. Social entrepreneurship is centered on helping others, regardless of gender, age, race, ethnicity, political or religious affiliation, sexual orientation, or any number of limiting categorizations assigned to humankind by society. We are BEING the change we wish to see in the world, and using social entrepreneurship as a tool to heal painful wounds inflicted by damaging inequalities and injustices. Communities hold the power in local economies and the magic comes in knowing how to LEVERAGE that power for good.

 

So how do we leverage that? We humble ourselves by becoming vulnerable and listening. We educate ourselves through creating connections. We initiate intentional conversations with those around us. We engage in diverse story-telling mechanisms through personal narrative, poetry, and art. We call on our publicly-elected leaders to demonstrate accountability and transparency. We identify and address institutional gaps by starting socially-conscious business ventures that elevate the quality of life for marginalized populations. And we dream – we dream so uninhibitedly, so deeply, and so endlessly.

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CREATE THE FUTURE YOU ENVISION

 

Going forward, we must be future-oriented. At Net Impact, a man named Michael Smith gave a keynote speech. Michael is President Obama’s Special Assistant for a program called My Brother’s Keeper – designed not only to address persistent issues faced by boys and young men of color, but to ensure that all young people can reach their full potential. In his closing statement, Michael left us with this quote: “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in”.

 

We achieve greatness by acting for future generations. We demonstrate resilience in the face of adversity for our young people. We create an inclusive economy with opportunity and dignity for all. United, social change is an unstoppable force to be reckoned with.

 

START NOW:

 

  1. Identify your strengths and the role you play in affecting widespread social change.

 

  1. Create something to channel the thoughts and emotions you feel today – art work, a piece of writing, a business plan, a diorama, ANYTHING.

 

  1. Pursue an intentional conversation with THREE key people in your life.

 

  1. Become part of the SEED SPOT family. Join our email list to act locally, to support seed-stage business ventures, and to inspire the entrepreneurs and change-makers of tomorrow.

 

The future is ours if we rise up and accept the challenge.