Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘change’ Category

Echoing Green announced twenty-seven entrepreneurs as their 2008 fellows, one of its largest classes to date. The entrepreneurs, selected from a record pool of more than 1,450 applicants from eighty-three countries, will launch nineteen start-up organizations.

This year, for the first time in Echoing Green’s twenty-one-year history, more than half of the fellows are developing models for creating lasting change that harness market forces, including several who plan to launch socially focused for-profits. The 2008 class is also distinguished for its relative youth, reflecting Echoing Green’s core belief that young people are key actors in sparking meaningful social change. One-third of the 2008 fellows are under 26 years old.

For more information about the 2008 fellows, please visit http://www.echoinggreen.org.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

LECTURE SUMMARY
Changemakers: Make the Impossible Possible
February 27, 2008

SPEAKER
Bill Strickland, President and CEO, Manchester Bidwell Corporation; author, Make the Impossible Possible: One Man’s Crusade to Inspire Others to Dream Bigger and Achieve the Extraordinary

MODERATOR
Nana Watanabe, photographer and author, Changemakers: Social Entrepreneurs are Making a Difference and Changemakers II: Working as a Social Entrepreneur

Armed with his trusty slide show and 30 years of experience as a leading social entrepreneur, Bill Strickland shared his inspirational story to a packed house at Japan Society on Wednesday, February 27. The program began with an introduction by award-winning photographer and author Nana Watanabe, whose serendipitous meeting with a punk rocker-turned-social entrepreneur earlier in her career motivated her to seek out and publicize the efforts made by social entrepreneurs. Inspired by her successful first book, Changemakers: Social Entrepreneurs are Making the Difference, Japan Society invited her to photograph participants in the U.S.-Japan Innovators Network retreat in San Francisco in June 2006, where she met Bill. Deeply moved and impressed by Bill’s work, Nana profiled Bill in her most recent book Changemakers: Working as a Social Entrepreneur.

Bill Strickland describing his organization in Pittsburgh, the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild. ©Satoru Ishikawa.After being introduced and invited to the podium, Bill, a man standing around six feet-five inches tall and whose presence commands attention, began his presentation much like every other presentation he has given: with a joke. He has one presentation and he knows it and openly jokes about it. He says he feels sorry for those who have chosen to listen to it yet again, but deep down you know what he’s about to talk about is no joke. It’s this disarming and charming attitude that puts an audience at ease and allows his powerful message to reach the hearts and souls of people every day.

Bill began his slide show by describing his organization, the Manchester Bidwell Corporation, and the numerous job training and community arts programs they provide to disadvantaged children and adults. Inspired and, as Bill puts it, “saved” by his high school art teacher, Bill knew from the time he entered the University of Pittsburgh as a probationary student that he wanted to transform the lives of the people in his neighborhood. He knew that the first step in achieving his goal was to build a center worthy of the people he wanted to help. It would have to be a beautiful structure with tons of natural light, beautiful displays of artwork, flowers and a huge fountain in front of the building, because according to Bill, “When you put people in a world-class facility, you create world-class people. When you put them in prisons, you get prisoners.” This was his first step in killing the “spiritual cancer” infecting the poor people living in the ghetto. As a result, he had a student of world-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright design and build his center, which as we all found out, became the scale model for the Pittsburgh Airport.

The second ingredient of Manchester Bidwell’s recipe for success is the cutting-edge education people receive. Not only are students given a sense of the possibilities, but also a sense of control over their lives through music and arts programs. Additionally adults are learning trades such as pharmacology, culinary arts, and horticulture that can be applied to finding jobs that Manchester Bidwell has smartly identified as hard to fill by corporations in the greater Pittsburgh area. Connecting music and ceramics with pharmacology might seem like an odd paring, however Bill’s ability to see opportunities where others might only see obstacles allowed him obtain funding and expand Manchester Bidwell to the point where it is today. His relationship with the late Senator John Heinz brought his center a million dollar kitchen and top-notch culinary arts program, and contacts with Hewlett-Packard birthed a state-of-the-art computer lab and visual arts program.

Bill Strickland and Nana Watanabe fielding questions from the audience. ©Satoru Ishikawa.After expounding Manchester Bidwell’s philosophy of light and beauty as a way to lift people out of poverty, Bill explained his new goal: 100 centers in the United States and 100 around the rest of the globe. Centers have already been built in San Francisco, Cincinnati and Grand Rapids, MI, and new centers in places like Philadelphia and New Orleans are in the planning stages. Internationally, Bill was recently in Israel and sat down with Jews and Arabs where they discussed a plan for a new center that would target a diverse group of Jewish and Arab children and adults as well as immigrants to Israel from Russia, Ethiopia and around the world. Conversations about building centers have also begun in Ireland, South Africa, San Paulo and Costa Rica

Bill wants his book Make the Impossible Possible to be a source of inspiration and guiding light for people without hope. He wants a number one book for the media attention and financial backing that a best selling book can bring to help him communicate his message all over the world.

The lecture was followed by a Q&A session, reception and book signings by Bill and Nana.

[photos by Satoru Ishikawa]

Read Full Post »

RETREAT & PUBLIC SYMPOSIUM
Invigorating Communities, Designing for Inclusion
November 4-10, 2007
Kyoto, Japan

PARTICIPANTS
Ruth J. Abram, President, Lower East Side Tenement Museum
Ayako Fujii, President, Environmental Co-op Union, Shiga; & President, Nanohana Project Network
Jeanne Giordano, Urban Design Consultant, Jeanne Giordano Ltd.
Taneo Kato, Secretary General, Asahi Beer Arts Foundation & Executive Director, Yokohama City Arts Promotion Foundation
Keito Kohara, Producer, artcomplex group
Limbon, architect and Professor, Urban Planning, College of Social Sciences,
Ritsumeikan University
Rick Lowe, artist and Founder, Project Row Houses
Osamu Maebashi, President & CEO, M.crew INC.
Tomohiko Okabe, Director, Funnybee Co. Ltd. & CEO, Okabe Tomohiko Design Studio
Villy Wang, President & CEO, BAYCAT

***

Kyoto, a city of 1.5 million people and Japan’s traditional seat of culture, faces challenges familiar to many American cities. At the top of the list are the revival of downtown commercial districts and the inclusion of economically depressed “outsider” groups.

So it was natural that Japan Society’s U.S.-Japan Innovators Network should hold a two-day retreat in Kyoto, bringing together architects, urban planners, and leaders in culture and civil society from the United States and Japan to share ideas on urban revitalization, social inclusion, the role of arts and culture in stimulating local economies.

The two-day retreat, Invigorating Communities, Designing for Inclusion, was held in collaboration with the Keikan Machizukuri Center in Kyoto, and was followed by a public symposium where American participants discussed their work in revitalizing communities in the United States.

The retreat and symposium were inspired by ideas that arose from the U.S.-Japan Innovators Network’s second retreat, (IN)SIGHT: Bridging Gaps (Tokyo 2007), and recommendations made to Japan Society during its third retreat, The Next Phase: Innovators Network (IN).

The Kyoto retreat began with a walking tour through the Kamo River area, with some emphasis on Higashisanjo, a predominately burakumin (a Japanese social minority group) neighborhood, and the Kiyamachi entertainment district, a historically popular entertainment area that has deteriorated.

This provided participants with a first hand look at some of the ongoing issues—commercial and entertainment revitalization, education, crime and beautification—related to the revitalization of depressed communities in Kyoto. The walking tour was followed by a day and a half at the Kyoto Keikan Machizukuri Center intensely discussing each others’ experiences, successes, and ongoing challenges in four sessions:

The Economics of Community Revitalization – Once commercial activity dies in a community, how do you revive it? And once you’ve revived it, how do you make it sustainable, while making sure the original community does not get chased out as a result of over-gentrification?
Community Inclusion: Working with “Outsider Groups” – Whether working with low-income minority communities in San Francisco or Houston, or NEET (Not currently engaged in Employment, Education or Training) and people at the bottom of the social pyramid in Japan, the challenge is the same: How to give the dispossessed a voice and a vested interest in the larger community.
The Role of Arts & Culture in Community Renewal – A strong magnet for cultural communities is important for the health of all urban areas. Strong cultural communities attract people, tourism, new businesses and business investment.
Financing Community Innovation – Whether in Japan or the United States, obtaining financing is a constant challenge for entrepreneurs, both social and business, working in community revitalization.

Each session featured two participants presenting his or her ideas, challenges,
and/or successes on the subject at hand, followed by extensive dialogue among all the participants. From these discussions we uncovered a number of important steps for community revitalization and some poignant observations:

Important Steps to Community Revitalization/Innovation:

Change negative perceptions/mind-set.
Break the emotional barrier.
Use the media to get the word out.
Tell your story to people all over the world.
Build partnerships to increase social network.
Create greater opportunities for outreach and support.
Create new or strengthen fading values.
Foster a community that cares and wants to be involved.

Interesting Observations:

“Outsiders” are not bound by the status quo, bring fresh perspectives, and can affect change.
Invite outsiders to be involved in the design process.
Economic hard times can increase opportunity in community revitalization/innovation.
People are more willing to try new, riskier ideas when things look bleak. The freedom to make mistakes, learn from them, and try new and daring things are critical.

During the final wrap-up session a number of people voiced their desire to continue discussions and collaborate with each other. Discussions started in Kyoto are continuing:

Jeanne Giordano and Limbon are interested in forming an urban development “swat team” to create a
revitalization blue print for Kyoto.
Tomohiko Okabe and Villy Wang, representing organizations that have successfully used the video arts, are interested in deepening their relationship to build more effective means for using the media to empower people and change negative perceptions.
Taneo Kato is interested in collaborating with BAYCAT and is interested in the Tenement Museum’s
unique business structure.
Limbon, Ruth Abram, Jeanne Giordano, Katsuhide Takagi, Manager of the Department of Preservation, Kyoto Keikan Machizukuri Center, and Japan Society staff will meet in January 2008 to discuss future collaboration on historic preservation and community revitalization.

For more on Upcoming Events and Innovators’ News, visit the Innovators Network website: http://innovators.japansociety.org/

Read Full Post »

“I predict that the 21st century will be most effected by a new breed of something we have not seen yet, which is a new form of chapter based organization. Institutions always need to be blown up every once in a while, because even with the best intentions and the great people, new things, you just need ‘new’ to be effective. There’s going to be a whole new breed of organizations like this.”
-Scott Heiferman

When I first heard these words I was taking notes as a relatively new member of the Japan Society staff. Japan Society’s U.S.-Japan Innovators Project was holding its second major retreat in Tokyo and it was my job to capture the overall experience, i.e. atmosphere and important ideas, of the three-day event. Needless to say I was very nervous and anxious to take on one of my first big tasks on the job. I listened and typed and tried my best to record what I could; however, after the retreat I realized nothing really sunk in. There was no time for me to mull over the information that flowed into my ears, through my fingers and onto the screen in front of me. Now, almost six months later I finally got a chance to sit down and go over my notes and transcripts for a purely personal look at what I may have missed. Let me tell you that after re-reading those notes I realized that the wisdom that came out of that retreat was incredible, and I’d like to share some of it with you.

Below is a list of some of my favorite quotes that came out of that retreat, in no particular order:

  • “The high cost of the status quo, well basically what I keep writing down in my notes is SQ > C. Status Quo is costlier than a change. Now that’s a huge idea.”
    -Dan Pink
  • “You know, I’ve kind of figured out how to go from the bandstand to the board room and make it swing. I kind of figured out a way to improvise through that and think of the balance sheet as a set of changes, and never lose that ability say, ‘Why?’ Why do we have to do it that way? Can’t we have some fun with it and play with it? At the end of the year it’s going to be the same numbers. Why don’t we do it this way? And so we’ve been able to kind of improvise our way through it, and still have fun, and keep it going. I mean, that’s the point, is that without the fun part and the play, oh my goodness, I never could deal with these arts administrators and stuff.”
    -Marty Ashby
  • “Start off with the assumption that people are assets, not liabilities, and treat them that way and you will see extraordinary things happen.”
    -Bill Strickland
  • “What we need to do is to create these cycles, and allow innovation to be adaptive and not recreated, because we’re wasting so much money in international reconstruction trying to reinvent the same solutions to similar problems.”
    -Cameron Sinclair
  • “Knowledge that can be expressed by word is available to anyone; therefore that knowledge is losing its value. However, it has become more important for us to have the tacit wisdom that cannot be expressed by words; for example, intuition, insight, imagination and creativity.”
    -Hiroshi Tasaka
  • “I call it innovation acupuncture. The idea is that if you want to create large change, don’t do massive projects and expect a society or a culture to come with you. You have to do these small, little interventions and you put one in and you see if that thing spreads. That little pin makes a huge difference. If it doesn’t that’s okay, we’ll put another pin in. And we’ll keep going until those pins eventually make you feel better.”
    -Cameron Sinclair
  • “Money is the raw material of politics. And politics is either the raw material of change or preserving the status quo.”
    -Ann Rutledge
  • “I am rich in terms of life, which I believe actually has more value, ultimately. I am not personally wealthy. But that is precisely – that actually gives me an advantage. Because when I’m able to talk with young people, particularly students and my staff, I’m able to say that I am not doing this because I am driven by wealth in the conventional monetary sense. I’m driven by a higher order of things that is more in the range of what this Japan-America conversation is all about. I believe at the end of the day, at the last day of your life, you only have your memories. You can’t take the money with you. So the question becomes to make sure that you have memories that reflect a quality experience and reverence for life.”
    -Bill Strickland
  • “We need to examine is what we believe about homelessness and other social challenges…If we think that homelessness is about altruism, then we are comfortable with gestures like giving people money, handing out a bowl of soup. That’s something that makes us feel better. It doesn’t change the situation of someone who’s homeless.”
    -Rosanne Haggerty
  • “I’m here to contend that sooner or later, it does not come down to money. Sooner or later, it comes down to people. And you can call me some sort of a hippie freak if you’d like.”
    -Scott Heiferman
  • P.S. – Check out the August 2, 2007 New York Times’ article Design Steps Up in Disaster’s Wake, by Allison Arieff. The article highlights the struggle of a woman trying to rebuild her and her family’s life in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and how Architecture for Humanity came to her aid.

Read Full Post »