Last night I went to a fundraiser for the Global Exploration for Educators Organization (GEEO) (GEEO.org). GEEO is a great new non-profit that my Integral Geek-up friend Zach is the legal council for and also on the board of. GEEO’s mission is to facilitate travel for educators. The idea is to break down the walls of isolation and ignorance that stand in the way of us (Americans) interacting compassionately with the rest of the world by exposing as many as poosible to the wonders of travel. This mean helping teachers to see the world, but also helping them to bring these experiences back to the classroom. They have presentations and lesson plans that they hand to teachers upon their return to the classroom that makes it as easy as possible for them to share their experiences (and hopefully their new found appreciation for travel) with their class. They really did a great job of making it clear just how many students a teacher can impact in their career and just what the ramifications of instilling a positive outlook on travel in them could mean for the world.
But they will not turn a profit.
They actually had us there to ask for donations (at a fundraiser! go figure). They made it quite clear that they expected the fund raising, grant writng, and other means of outside support to not only continue, but actually grow as the ‘business’ does.
Tonight I was at a FLOW (flowidealism.org) meeting. As I’ve said before. FLOW intends to help people engage in business in an effort to have a positive impact on the world. The idea here is to stop demonizing corporations, to stop making anyone the enemy, and to start creating a space for entrepreneurs to be do gooders; for making a living and making the world to go hand in hand.
Why do we assume that socially conscious endeavors should not turn a profit? Can’t they at least be self sustaining?
Isn’t there an amazing amount of waste, shame, and resentment in this fruitless shuffling of money between those endeavors which ‘support’ us and those which ‘nurture’ us. What’s the difference? Why the artificial separation? It is artificial. There is no reason that I am aware of that the two must be fundamentally separate.
I realize that this is a bit of a foreign idea to many. The dominant economic paradigm does seem to dictate that cut throat behavior is the means to an end if your end is to include a profit. But why is that? Is this not merely a short-sighted and ultimately unsustainable perspective? I think the state of the world today makes it obvious that this is true. You can only reap more than you sow for short periods of time. It is in everyone’s best interest(to be profitable and nurture others) to keep the ground fertile and healthy.
So what is the solution?
We must break down these barriers between sustainability in finances, sustainability of spirit and sustainability in nature(Triple Bottom Line). And not only do I think that this is possible and ultimately even required, people are already doing it. One of the tasks that decided to take on tonight as the NYC chapter of FLOW is to begin the documentation process of some of the stories of the people in our group who are already doing this.
Our group attracts amazing people with remarkable stories of looking at the world through compassionate eyes, recognizing need and moving forward with a profitable solution that does its best to benefit as many as possible at each step of the way in the business. No one has it perfect of course, but amazing strides are being made and it is quite clear that with each new endeavor there is a little less figuring out for everyone else.
I think that these ideas are already making their way through the consciousness of the populace at large. Hopefully we at FLOW will find ways to both speed up the process of making more people aware of these possibilities and also make it easier for those who are already undertaking such tasks.
Definitely more to come….