In the midst of chaos comes opportunity. While the current government is trying to figure out the financial meltdown, the President-elect is assembling his cabinet, the ice caps are melting and two wars wage on, the chaos can seem a bit overwhelming. But at the same time innovation in the social space is taking off. People are coming up with and implementing new ideas to tackle some of the world’s most intractable problems. And in an unprecedented way it seems that everyone is talking about possible solutions to the many problems we face. Here are just a few examples.
In his column this past weekend, David Brooks talked with Michael Porter, economic expert from the Harvard Business School, about positive things an Obama administration could do to turn the economy around. At the end, Brooks offered his own idea for addressing the economic turmoil: a network of social entrepreneurship investment banks:
These regionally operated semi-public funds would invest in the best local community organizations, so they could bring their ideas to scale. These funds, first proposed by the group America Forward, would supplement the safety net and employ college grads entering a miserable job market. They’d have a powerful psychological effect on a country that desperately wants to feel mobilized and united. This is a mental recession as well as an economic one. Solving it means getting more and more people involved in a fundamental rebirth.
Getting more and more people involved in finding solutions is exactly what Change.org, a social network of people and nonprofits, has launched with their “Ideas for Change in America” effort. They have taken Obama at his word, in asking Americans to be involved in their own democracy again, by asking people to submit their ideas for solutions. The top ten winners, voted on by the Change.org community, will be submitted to Obama on inauguration day. There are some pretty interesting ideas. They include: creating a citizen news organization, developing a national youth policy council, restoring rail service, and launching a public service academy.
The best antidote to the chaos that surrounds is the hope that ideas like these bring.