PICnet at the StartingBloc Institute for Social Innovation

I promise the reason I left dreary Washington, D.C. behind for 5 days in Los Angeles wasn’t just that it was 70 degrees in mid-February.  Rather, it was the chance to connect with 100 young social innovators from around the world all convening in Santa Monica to discuss trends in social entrepreneurship.  Okay, so the weather didn’t hurt, but I swear it was the chance to learn and grow as a social entrepreneur that inspired me to go.

I was honored to be selected as a StartingBloc fellow, and am incredibly grateful to PICnet for supporting my attendance at their social innovation summit.  In attendance were social entrepreneurs representing six continents, multiple countries, numerous sectors and cause areas, and myriad life experiences.  What connected us all, though, was our passion to employ the toolkit of entrepreneurship to improving the world around us.  From the social entrepreneur addressing sanitation issues in slums in his native India, to a recently-returned Haiti volunteer dedicating his career to teaching others the Creole language to promote cross-cultural communication, the ideas were big, and the action even bigger.

Throughout it all, a couple of key themes emerged.  The first is the power of storytelling.  We learned the impact that a well-crafted story can have on inspiring people to take action – be it getting involved, wanting to learn more, or giving money.  This is a theme central to the work of PICnet: we provide Non-Profits with an easy-to-use set of tools so that rather than stressing about php and jquery, they can focus on telling their own story on the web.  The second theme is that of the increasing blend between non-profits and for-profits, showing that not only can (and should!) both contribute to the social good, both are perfectly able to do so.  This again fits in well with the PICnet ethos; as a certified B-Corporation, PICnet has been recognized for its dedication to social and environmental consciousness and transparency.  I’m proud that PICnet proves that it’s not just non-profits that can be dedicated to improving the world.  There’s room for lots of different types of companies to create social good, and as I learned at the summit, the organizational structure is less important than the fact that an organization does truly do good.

And it wasn’t just learning from my, ahem, fellow fellows – we also had the chance to learn from established leaders in the field.  We were inspired by the story of the founder of Falling Whistles, an organization dedicated to shedding light on and halting the war in the Congo.  We were educated about the increasing role of Corporate Social Responsibility by the founder of Just Means. And we were encouraged to envision ourselves as changemakers and “take the leap” of making a difference by the founder of Accelerating Possibilities.

The five days in Los Angeles were an extremely intense learning experience, with conversations, exchanges and learning going from 9AM until late at night.  But I walked away so thankful for PICNet’s support in making it possible for me to attend, and even more inspired to work towards being a social innovator.  Okay, and I also walked away ever so slightly more tan – but don’t tell anyone!

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011 at 3:50 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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