Ann Wizer, XSProject Founder
What's a conference without schwag? You know those bags tattooed with the sponsors' logos and filled with stickers, t-shirts, coupons, samples, and other goodies. I typically donate my schwag to a good cause or if there is a schwag recycling room, I participate. But Socap 09 has taken the concept of socially conscious schwag to new heights.
Ann Wizer is an artist who uses design and education to protect the environment and reduce poverty. The conference bag is one of of her "out-of-studio experiments" to involve poor communities in the development of simple solutions to problems of un-managed consumer waste. She buys non-recyclable waste from trash pickers and creates small scale products like the above bag.
In a brief interview with Ann, she shared some of her philosophy and passion. "I want to design well made recycled bags. We are at such a point with consumer waste and poverty - that we need to do something. The shoppers won't go to the landfill, so I needed to get the designers there."
Socap 09 Conference brings together a mix of the world's top social innovators, investors, donors, entrepreneurs, and thought-leaders, today's leading catalysts of change from across the globe. As Kevin Jones, Socap's co-founder, said in his welcome address:
Let the bag be a metaphor and useful physical reminder that it all starts with an idea and you look around see that something has the power to make change. You decide you're going to do something about it.
Ben Rattray, Change.Org shows off his bag
I was fortunate to have a press pass - so while it didn't entitle me to one of those bags, I got a front row seat in close proximity to an electrical outlet for the keynote address by Sonal Shah, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation and panel discussion with Andrew Wolk, Root Cause; Vanessa Kirsch, New Profit; and Carla Javits, REDF, moderated by Jeff Bradach, Bridgespan Group.
Sonal Shah gave an overview of the goals and strategies for the Office of Social Innovation. This was followed by a panel discussion and questions from the audience.
I learned a new term "Hockey Stick Returns" that colleague, Nedra defined for me. The context is that many projects don't offer this.
attended a panel called "The Future of Social Innovation on the Web"
This all-guy panel was facilitated by Dennis Whittle, Global Giving and
featured Premal Shah, Kiva.org; Jonathan Greenblatt, Our Good Works;
Steve Newcomb, Virgance; and Ben Rattray, Change.org. I tweeted some of the key points.
After the session, after waiting an hour for Premal Shah to be available for a quick interview, he graciously shared his thoughts on what Web 3.0 looks like as did Dennis Whittle. I also interviewed Shara Karasic who was in the audience. Premal talked about the need for creating magic for the users and building in workflow software that was facilitated relationship building through the ladder of engagement.
Dennis introduced each panelist with a personal story of how they met. I loved what he said about Premal Shah - that he wanted to apply for a job at Kiva after hearing him speak. He set up the panel with a definition of Web 3.0 - it wasn't about the real-time web or semantic web. He defined it as: "If Web 1.0 is about one-way communication, and web 2.0 is about two-way communication. Web 3.0 is about building a bridge between two-way online communication and offline actions and impact.
He asked each of the panelists to describe where they think the field is now. Ben Rattray mentioned:
He asked each of the panelists to discuss what they were most proud of in their project's achievements. Jonathan Greenblatt of All for Good talked about the work they were doing to bring volunteer opportunities to Americans who want to serve. He also spoke about his accomplishments with Ethos Water.
Premal Shah talked about the importance of the user experience to create a compelling reason to give.
Dennis also asked panelists to share some of the criticisms they've received along the way.
Several themes that came out in the discussion:
- The line between for-profit and nonprofit
- Balance between cooperation and competition
- Are there too many social entrepreneurs. If your idea isn't high quality, why not work with someone else instead?
- Don't give up
I haven't spent much time in this space, but when I walked through the door I ran into Sean Stannard-Stockton who at met at Netsquared several years ago and encouraged him to set up a blog. He has recently announced a new venture, Tactical Philanthropy Advisors, an advisory firm working with wealthy individuals and families. He told me I got his first business card!