Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A New Era of Hope

There seems to be a new age of social entrepreneurs and social change on the horizon. This involves citizens and big companies encouraging and enabling change at the individual level. What's amazing is that these causes have found ways to involve individuals in ways that are new - from an individual purchase at the consumer level, to helping fund an individual's dreams, to finding ways to fund change at a community level - these initiatives are funding hope.

1. Tactics of Hope
Both a website and a book, Wilford Welch has taken a new look at social entrepreneurs and their involvement with community and global change. The book makes inroads in the individual's questions of "what can I do and where do I start?" It sites amazing examples of people and foundations that have found a way to make a difference. One of my favorite examples is of "Play Pumps;" funded by advertising money, these merrigo round play ground installations power pumps that provide water for whole communities.

The book acts as a catalog of success stories, and gives great examples of how dedicated efforts can make a difference. The site allows you to look for causes that you might be passionate about, and links you up with other people who want to make a change. Both are powerful tools.

2. Awearness by Kenneth Cole
For 25 years, Kenneth Cole has made products that support specific causes - usually in his clothing or accessory line. As a nod to those 25 years, he has launched a blog that focuses on social rights, well-being, political landscape and hard times. It also features authors from the book Awearness, which includes 86 stories from ninety individuals who have been inspired to create social change.

3. Product (Red)
Product (Red) "is an ingenious idea that unites our incredible collective power as consumers with our innate urge to help others." The idea is that people shop and buy (Red) branded products, and included in the price of the product is a set amount that gets donated directly to the Global Fund. Product (Red) supports the Global Fund by having individual companies license the (Red) logo, and in turn agree to donate a percentage of their profit on that item to Africa. These brands include American Express, Apple, Converse, Dell, Emporio Armani, Gap, Hallmark, and Microsoft.

The spokesperson for (Red) is none other than social activist Bono, and he has garnered a good deal of support to promote awareness of the campaign itself.

What impresses me about these three efforts is that people are working to find new ways to support social change. While each of them has rightfully received their own recognition, they each stand out for different reasons. Each effort is working to recognize the power of a unified community, the power of consumers, and the power of individual choices in making the world a better place. How will you join this new era of hope?

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