Where do you see yourself in 20 years? Is it in an office working for a corporation, a fashion design firm designing clothes for the masses, in a management position overseeing dozens of full- and part-time employees? I don’t have a specific vision for my career, but I do see myself in a position that somehow serves a purpose. This week, we defined the term ‘design activism’ and what it means to be a social entrepreneur. After a complex reading on design activism by Fuad Luke, we discovered that this concept has to do with designing a counter-narrative aimed at positively creating or changing something. In other words, going against the norm and what already exists to create a higher good of many. The reading was difficult to get through, but after discussing it with my class, I gained a good sense of understanding of how activism operates through capitals. Faud Luke describes five capitals, the two primary being Human and Natural. Natural Capital is the capital from which all life springs, measured by available resources. Human Capital is acquired and useful abilities held in each individual human. We got to explore some various existing activism organizations and apply our own ideas to new possibilities within each. It was fun and I learned a lot about how I could actually be a part of something like this in the real world without any professional experience. It just takes a passion.
We also watched a video this week called, “Who Cares?” based on social entrepreneurship. There were several examples of people who had seen possibilities and hope in a need that no one else did. The most common trend among these entrepreneurs was how they focused on giving people the tools and skills they need to do something instead of providing them with resources or just giving them money. The difference in social entrepreneurship and conventional entrepreneurship is that S.E. focuses on helping the world, its people, and its resources while C.E. focuses on monetary value and gaining profit. I love that people give to charities and send food to places in need, but I think the greater impact on these communities is providing them with the tools to provide for themselves. Yes, you may go to a community and have a great impact when you bring food, money, clothing, and other things, but what happens when you leave? They need to be able to sustain life in their communities with skills that they have acquired themselves.
We played a game this week called “The New Heroes: Buld a Socially Conscious Business.” I chose to be “Adam Advocate” and pursue the “Profit Pump” as my big idea because I figured that most of my classmates would choose the Crafty Clothing option and I wanted a different perspective. My venture was to start a manually operating pump for village farmers to reach ground water. I chose to take matters into my own hands and stay to help the famers build a prototype so I didn’t have to ask for grant money, which proved to be a tough choice, but would have the greatest impact. I then chose to put my ideas into action, making more pumps with donated materials and borrowing money to go back to Africa to help more villages. After a lot of wary farmers, my perseverance has made my idea a reality. I then decided to build a team to take my organization to the next level, which helped my business thrive. I decided to not quit and take the next step in a new venture designing a machine for processing sunflower seeds in order to tackle other problems. I ended up resulting in a Super Social Entrepreneur. I was surprised by the feedback I received, because I have never really seen myself as, what I now know is called, a social entrepreneur. I have always admired people who go to struggling communities and start something like this, but never really thought of the possibilities of doing it myself. I thought that only people with scientific degrees and mounds of recognizable research did these things, but now I ask myself, “Why can’t I do it?” I talk a lot about how this class inspires me in different ways to be sustainable, but as I’m coming up on graduation, I’ve actually been looking into some non-profit organizations to join. I’m not big on being rich. My definition of success has to do with how I feel about myself, not how much money I have made, so I look forward to learning about opportunities and exploring a career that has a purpose and makes a difference, even if it seems small.