Being good is on my bucket list: I want to be an individual of character and moral rectitude.
But I haven't thought much about ‘social good', whether clean air, clean water, etc. In part, because it often seems the loudest agents of change smirk at being the subject of change. I've also wondered if our emphasis on social good isn't at all about improving the world per se but is symptomatic of a people disconnected.
My skepticism as a backdrop, I was invited me to be a U.N. Foundation #2030 Influencer Fellow at the Social Good Summit. Ordinarily I would have said no, but a person I very much respect, Chrysula Winegar, invited me.
So I went.
There was a dizzying array of luminaries from Melinda Gates to Al Gore to Linkin Park. They lived up to, and in the case of Al Gore, surpassed expectations, but there were a few people who made a lasting impression:
1. Jessica Matthews – While in college, Jessica co-founded sOccket, a soccer ball that captures energy when the ball is kicked and stores it to charge lights and batteries. Currently 15 minutes of play provides 3 hours of LED light. Jessica is a bootstrapping entrepreneur using her wherewithal to eradicate energy poverty.
2. Jennifer Burden — Founding editor of World Mom's Blog, a blog that writes from over 20 countries with over 50 bloggers, about global motherhood, culture, social good and human rights. Jennifer is an example of a woman who is a force for good in our society.
3. Magatte Wade — a serial entrepreneur whose mantra is Michelangelo's ‘criticize by creating.' The idea for her first company, Adina World Beat Beverages, came in 2004 when she visited her native Senegal and discovered that cola products had replaced local drinks. “She couldn't see herself in any of the beverages”. Magatte is a perfect example of pairing the hunger of the developing world with the embarrassment of resources in the developed.
4. Malala Yousafzai — On October 9, 2012, the Taliban stormed 15 year-old Malala’s school bus, and shot her in the head in an attempt to silence her and end her campaign for girls’ rights to go to school. The conversation with Malala brought me to tears. I felt as if I were listening to a 21st century Anne Frank, and for a brief moment the 92nd Street ‘Y' auditorium became holy ground.
Entrepreneurs, innovation, developing markets, women, education, bootstrapping — daring to dream and disrupt: these are my social goods. Yours will be different. What I learned at the Social Good Summit is that for an individual like Malala doing good and being good are one and the same.
Do you think much about being good?
Doing good socially?
Are they bound together for you?