Individuals, Companies, Governments – Who’s Responsible? All?

Every day I keep learning that there is so much more we could be doing to help alleviate the wicked problems we face in our world.  It doesn’t always have to be the big things!  It can be as simple as choosing a company which practices social entrepreneurship to buy the simple yet necessary objects in our lives.  Without realizing this, I was chose one of these companies to purchase my glasses I am wearing at this very moment!  I read part of their mission when I had first heard of them, but it just went to the back of my mind. I just knew Warby Parker had some stylish glasses!  They do so much more than just make affordable glasses though.  They commit to their “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” program.  This is an incredible feat where they give away a pair of glasses to those in need with every pair of Warby Parker glasses bought.  It’s so cool to think that there might be a child in need, sitting in a classroom on the other side of the world, wearing the same pink pair of Percey glasses all because I chose to purchase them from Warby Parker!  I never thought about how such a simple program like this one could make such a big difference across the globe.  Warby Parker truly took to heart much of the information spoken about on the wicked problems website.  They design for the people and truly inclusive to everyone.  They understand that social entrepreneurship is the answer for sustainable design. It makes me sit back and wonder…what would be possible if all companies decided to be social entrepreneurs?  What would happen if everyone decided they would pitch in to solve more of our wicked problems?

The awesome thing about it is…its possible for everyone to chip in to help alleviate wicked problems!  Using the Current State—Future Scenario Analysis tool, we can determine what all is needed to accomplish our goal.  Warby Parker seems to have utilized this because they figured out where they were (too many people without proper vision care), where they want to go (a world where everyone has equal opportunity to good vision care and correction).  They decided they were going to incorporate their “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” program to get to their hopeful destination, and realized without companies like them doing programs like theirs, they were never going to reach that goal and our world would stay the same (where we are headed).

I believe even I can help to solve the wicked problems by using this tool.  Homelessness in urban settings has always weighed heavily on my heart.  I love to travel, but each time it makes my eyes even more open to this awful problem.  With the way our world is currently acting, it seems as though there will only be more homeless individuals (and especially homeless YOUTH!) in the future as urban hubs continue to grow at a rapid pace without the proper understanding of how this growth will affect those already living there.  Hopefully once I get established in the architecture field, I can start to make a direct impact on this community just as Warby Parker does for the world’s vision care issue.  With a very slight increase in prices from design estimates, funds could be raised to build more shelters for the homeless or half-way houses to help homeless individuals transition back into “normal” society.  I know this is only one possible solution for this issue, and I hope to come up with more as I get older!  I truly hope for a world where homelessness is no longer an issue, or at least it is where the communities it’s happening in recognize it and start implementing strategies to diminish it!

Now I know I’ve only talked about how we can all help the wicked problems through companies and individuals taking part in the effort.  However, I know that change of these wicked problems can even be implemented at a foundational level through policy enforcement and similar actions.  In the Market vs Government Regulation reading, I read the Government Regulation side of the debate.  I believe it is absolutely possible, as well as already been proven so, that we can have meaningful environmental change through regulations.  We already have great standards set in place through LEED and several acts created by the EPA that address these environmental issues.  The next step we need to take is simply to enforce these standards.  When we aren’t enforcing regulations like these (AKA today), its as if we are given the recipe to bake a cake, throw the recipe away, and try to just figure it out by ourselves.  I just have to wonder… WHY AREN’T WE DOING THIS ALREADY?!  Using these policies can be a financial gain in the long run as well, and who can say no to having a little extra money down the road?

I’ve realized how much social entrepreneurship can truly make such a huge difference in the issue of wicked problems.  Through this simple process, both consumers and producers take a part in changing our world.  If its truly as easy as it seems…what’s stopping us from doing it?

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