I’m spending this week at Almedalen — an amazing political/NGO week on the island of Gotland in Sweden. The week features over 3000 events — social mingles and panels on everything from the new capitalism to policy debates.
Today featured the culmination of a couple of months of hard work, putting on a panel with Reach for Change and MTG entitled: Business and Entrepreneurial Success Through Celebrating Failure. Since moving here last year, I’ve been frustrated with many Swedes’ approach to failure — avoiding it at all costs, and seeing so much opportunity in shifting this mindset.
We brought together an amazing panel featuring leaders from the social entrepreneurship world, the business world and the political world:
Mia Brunell Livfors, styrelseproffs Mona Sahlin, fd partiledare för Socialdemokraterna Arkan Asaad, Right 2 Choose Georgios Karpathakis, Underbara ADHD
Together, in front of a packed house, we discussed the question: how can we create a culture in Sweden that celebrates, rather than fears failure.
For more photos, and audience responses, check out the Twitter hashtag for the panel: #Failmedalen.
After today’s panel and the ensuring response, I believe we really are starting to forge this new mindset.
This year, instead of just giving more *stuff,* join me in making a more meaningful gift for family and friends by supporting the amazing ventures on StartSomeGood. From using lacrosse to transform the lives of Chicago’s at-risk youth to building community resilience in El Salvador, there are amazing changemakers that are running campaigns now at http://startsomegood.com.
I know, I know, it’s a tad early to be talking about the holiday season, but if you want your gifts to change the world, there’s a little preparation involved.
StartSomeGood project rewards are the ultimate gift for people who care about the future of the planet, and for people who like cool stuff - that just about covers everybody, right?
By buying your friends and family one of the gifts below, you’ll sidestep the usual meaningless commercialism and help an incredible project get off the ground.
We’ve compiled a list of rewards on offer from current crowdfunding campaigns and feel-good products from previous StartSomeGood success stories. We’ll update this page weekly as more projects launch. Remember, get in early to allow for campaign length and shipping times. Then sit back and relax while everyone else sweats it out in the last-minute mall stampede, knowing you’ve helped passionate changemakers create a better future for their communities.
Live campaign rewards
For the art lovers
The illustrations in this calendar from Friends of Bangladesh are so gorgeous you’ll want to frame them as each month goes by. Add some beauty (and a boost to climate justice) to your 2014.
Greenola Style is a young, entrepreneurial fashion brand aiming to create lasting opportunity for women artists in Bolivia through ethical fashion. They have a whole range of funky jewelry and more to choose from. Change lives and fill those stockings! Buy now in time for Christmas
For the chefs
It’s in your interests to buy this book for the best cooks you know. If you’ve never tasted authentic Cambodian recipes, you’re in for a treat. Offerings is gorgeously styled and worthy of pride of place on the coffee table or in the kitchen.
Better still, you’ll make it possible for Cambodian kids to attend school, creating new hope for a generation whose country has suffered so much.
If you’re only familiar with Somebody That I Used to Know you need to hear more from Gotye. Wally de Backer’s second album was described by Pitchfork as “full of dark pop, produced with an open clarity that separates the numerous sounds and consequently comes off as huge and sweeping…Like Drawing Blood is memorable and captivating.”
If you’re an activist, a social entrepreneur or an NGO employee, Anarchists in the Boardroom is going to make you feel just a little bit uncomfortable - in a good way. It challenges organisations to be ‘more like people’ to stay relevant and be more effective - and it was funded on StartSomeGood.
Bacchara is an incredible ethical, sustainable fashion enterprise in Bangladesh. As well as creating gorgeous threads to suit women of all ages, shapes and sizes, they also provide excellent employment conditions and support the education of Bangladeshi kids.
It’s no Shades of Grey but the for the engaged Aussie citizens in your life, Pushing Our Luck will get the pulse racing. The book, funded on StartSomeGood, gives important thinkers space to imagine better ways to do things, based on real evidence, for a fairer and more sustainable Australia.
At their worst, greeting cards can be an obligation, a waste of paper or a chore. At their best, they can touch hearts and change lives. This year, why not send little sparks of inspiration flying through your network, with these thoughtful Pollyanna Principles notecards from Creating the Future. A great way to reconnect while supporting innovative programs for changemakers.
As of this week I have now transitioned from my full-time role as Co-Founder of StartSomeGood.com to that of an advisor. Below is the post I wrote for the StartSomeGood blog sharing the news as well as reflecting on my journey as a changemaker — intertwined with the story of StartSomeGood — over the last three years.
Four years ago, in the middle of a dusty field in Ahmedabad, India, my life changed forever. I arrived in India an idealistic, if uncertain, wannabe policy wonk; I left the country with my mind and heart filled with visions of collaborative social change. On the surface, I spent my days coaching girls from the local community in ultimate frisbee, but really we were using sport as a tool to empower them as individuals, as leaders and as young women in their community. For the first time, I witnessed the power of a community coming together to create its future.
Three years ago, I joined my friend, Tom, in a number of brainstorms about how we could combine our shared passion for technology and social change and create a toolkit that would empower changemakers anywhere in the world — like our group in Ahmedabad, India — to create those new futures themselves. Spoiler Alert: the result was StartSomeGood.
Two and a half years ago, StartSomeGood went live to the world, my stomach filled with excitement, nerves and two weeks of excess caffeine. One of the greatest honors of my life has been cultivating and caring for a community of over 25,000 people from around the world, all together helping 200 (and counting!) new social ventures and projects become a reality through funds raised on our site.
Six months ago, I moved to Stockholm, Sweden. No, it wasn’t the weather, the meatballs or a desire to get better at building IKEA furniture that brought me here. It was an amazing woman that prompted the move. Though Stockholm and Ahmedabad might have little in common on paper, in both cases they have helped me renew and refocus my energy and goals.
Today, these four moments all come together as I transition from my full-time role with StartSomeGood to that of a committed and dedicated advisory board member. Just as seeing the world through the lens of a new culture in India shaped the trajectory of my life as a social entrepreneur, so too has my time in Sweden inspired me to take on some fresh projects here in my new community.
Bolstered by an incredibly talented and committed team around the world, and a truly visionary and inspiring CEO, I make this move knowing StartSomeGood is in great hands and I look forward to advising the team as we grow. As for me? I’ll be spending the rest of my life working on various new projects, but all towards the vision that began in Ahmedabad and that StartSomeGood embodies: creating a world where anyone feels empowered to be a changemaker. And rest assured that whatever I do, I still won’t be any good at building IKEA furniture.
A few visual highlights of the journey:
The first time I ever pitched the idea of StartSomeGood (then CrowdSplash):
The first-ever mockup of CrowdSplash:
The first ever StartSomeGood logo:
An early brainstorming session with my co-founder Tom, laying out our “big, hairy, audacious goal” of creating a world where every person has the tools to make good things happen:
Photos from our StartSomeGood launch party, held at the Case Foundation in Washington, DC, March 17, 2011:
Presenting StartSomeGood at a TechCocktail event in DC:
A typical StartSomeGood team meeting:
The DC-based team, in February, 2013:
Presenting StartSomeGood at the US State Department’s TechCamp in Ukraine:
It’s been an incredible journey and I’m excited for what StartSomeGood will become in the coming weeks, months and years!
Dusting off that old podcasting microphone of mine to host a new StartSomeGood project: The StartingGood podcast. For the first episode I had the absolute pleasure of speaking with Charles Best of Donors Choose!
StartingGood Podcast - Interview with Charles Best of Donors Choose
For the first episode of the Starting Good Podcast, we talk with Charles Best, the Founder and CEO of Donors Choose. Donors Choose, one of the first websites to popularize the field of crowdfunding, allows public school teachers to create classroom project requests for needed resources and then enables donors to pick the educational projects they want to support. All told, Donors Choose has helped teachers raise over $170 Million.
Listen to this episode for Charles’ advice for social entrepreneurs and to hear how his mom’s delicious pear dessert served as a catalyst to launch what would become Donors Choose.