social & ethical issues.   the more you know.
 
Get On Board. The Charity Commission and TimeBank are running a campaign to encourage a wider and more diverse group of people to become charity trustees. I've just signed up.
20 Sep, 2005 | social & ethical issues | permalink | (0)

A day in the life. Being a career changer myself, I've long been passionate about the lack of information out there for people thinking about or going through the process. So nice to see the BBC's "My life@work", which features a bunch of people giving us an illustrated explanation of a typical day in their jobs. So far they've had a fundraiser for environmental research centre CAT, a museum curator, a charity boss, a railway worker, and a kinesiologist. Let's hope they continue to add more.
05 Aug, 2005 | social & ethical issues | permalink | (1)

Uncommon people. The six winning entrants to what I think is one of the most exciting funding programmes in the UK have just been announced. The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust's (JRCT) Visionaries programme will give up to 40k a year over 5 years to six "visionary" individuals who they believe can literally change the world, making it a more peaceful and just place. 1,600+ applicants were apparently whittled down to a shortlist of 17, and the final seven (one project is jointly run by two people) have just been announced. They include a human rights advocate who hopes to close down Guantanamo Bay, a food industry expert with a vision to create global food sustainability and man who believes he can save thousands of lives in developing countries through better health advertising. There are only one-line summaries of each person's projects available at the moment, so looking forward to hearing more. I'm also hoping one or more of them will be blogging about their experiences...
10 Jun, 2005 | social & ethical issues | permalink | (0)

McLibel on BBC2 this weekend. I'm not much of a TV fan, but some recommended viewing for this weekend if you're around: "McLibel", the story of a postman and a gardener who took on the might of McDonalds in England's longest-ever legal wrangle, is showing on BBC2 on Sunday at 10.30pm. Having seen director Franny Armstrong introduce a short clip from the film at a Funding Network event back in March, and knowing from the Spanner Films newsletter what a battle it's been to get it shown on terrestrial TV, this should be scintillating viewing.
01 Jun, 2005 | social & ethical issues | permalink | (0)

Know the score. ethiscore.org, a new site that gives ethical ratings to consumer products, is a much-needed concept. The free trial reports on coffee, computers, electricity suppliers, toothpaste + others make interesting reading, but it's a shame that the majority of the content is subscriber-only. Early days yet, but why not hook this scoring system in with a shopping search engine such as froogle or kelkoo? - not only would you provide ethiscore with a potential business model but you'd also give us punters an easier and more intuitive route to the information.
23 May, 2005 | social & ethical issues | permalink | (0)

Wasted.
weee_man.jpg
Sometimes we need big statements to remind us of the small things we should be doing to make the world a better place, and the WEEE man, a beautifully conceived sculpture representing the 3.3 tonnes of electrical & electronic waste each of us will chuck out during our lifetimes, is an excellent example of that. It's going to be hanging out on the Southbank (where I saw it) until May 27th, then heading down to the Eden Project for the summer, before, finally, like all good appliances, being recycled. Congratulations to my friend Mark Fremantle who co-developed it, and his friend Hugh Knowles, who came up with the idea - and to both for battling long and hard to get the project realised.
15 May, 2005 | social & ethical issues | permalink | (0)

Ideas feed. The excellent Global Ideas Bank has launched a daily RSS feed for new ideas. (via The Global Ideas blog)
26 Apr, 2005 | social & ethical issues | permalink | (0)

More Skoll coverage. An excellent (very comprehensive) report on the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship from Lee Bryant at headshift.
06 Apr, 2005 | social & ethical issues | permalink | (0)

Skoll Forum 2005.
skoll_forum_2005.jpg
Just back from this year's Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship at the Sad Business School in Oxford.

Like last year, many of the scheduled sessions felt academic-heavy and practitioner-light, but there were more than enough interesting people and ideas to make up for it.

Some of the themes that stuck in my head, in no particular order:

* The power of the media to effect social change. Jeff Skoll's Participant Productions (from which we saw an extract of their New Heroes series), is pioneering this in Hollywood. Jamie Oliver has recently used the media to good effect in helping to win more money for school dinners in the UK. Michael Hastings, Head of CSR for the BBC, talked about the vast sums Comic Relief and Children In Need raise every couple of years. David Bornstein, author of How to Change the World, spoke about the need to develop patterns of social entrepreneurship that people can recognise and use in their own communities - and story-telling via the media is an ideal way to do this. But there were still many unanswered questions. How can groups without the budgets and influence of the people above effectively leverage popular media? New peer-to-peer distribution methods (BitTorrent, etc) were banded about, but how do you effectively use them and what are examples of people who've done so?

* The need for systemic thinking. Jake Chapman, author of System Failure, asserted that people need to think differently to solve the kinds of issues that government and other large-scale institutions face. While "difficulties" can be solved by conventional mechanistic thinking (typically a reductionist and positivist approach), "messes" can only be solved by systemic thinking (a more holistic and pluralist approach). Meanwhile, Skoll Fellow Charlie Leadbeater used the example of the Brazilian city of Curitiba's innovative approach to recycling, which has been implemented not by a social entrepreneur creating change from the bottom up, but by a forward-thinking city government innovating at the system (top-down) level.

* The potential power of social software. Tom Steinberg was promoting his excellent, almost-finished PledgeBank, a site that lets you say "I'll do something if other people will do it too" (and the latest concept to roll off the MySociety production line). Having also listened to the BBC's Martin Vogel talk about his iCan project, it strikes me there are a myriad of possibilities in joining these and other social software tools together. Why not have users posting a local issue on iCan and then using PledgeBank to galvanise group action? hooking writetothem.com into iCan also seems like an obvious move.

More coverage of the Forum at Social Edge and Learning Innovation.
01 Apr, 2005 | social & ethical issues | permalink | (0)

Another health service. Boo Armstrong, a brilliant social entrepreneur who is integrating complementary health into the NHS in the UK (and who I also have the honour of working with), was featured in The Times a couple of days ago.
30 Mar, 2005 | social & ethical issues | permalink | (0)

Magic workspace. The very inspiring Carmel McConnell, who I've had the pleasure of getting to know recently, is featured in today's Guardian. Not only does she run Magic Breakfast, a fantastic charity which delivers nutritious breakfasts to primary schools in deprived areas of London, but her new book - Make Money Be Happy - is currently riding high in the WHSmith business bestseller lists.
19 Mar, 2005 | social & ethical issues | permalink | (0)

The Hub launches.
the_hub_opening.jpg
In November last year, I got a glimpse into a cold, dark, half-rennovated top floor warehouse behind Angel tube in central London. At the time, Jonathan Robinson and Mark Hodge, two young but remarkably accomplished social entrepreneurs, were still in the process of transforming it into their vision: an eco-friendly creative workspace - or "hub" - where social and environmental entrepreneurs could incubate their businesses and rub shoulders with fellow changemakers.

Tonight, at their opening event, the transformation was complete. Desks made from recycled corrugated cardboard, wood-pellet burning stove heaters roaring away, light pouring in from the large windows in the roof, and a rawness and freshness that seemed to reflect the possibilities of what they've created. Their mobile-phone styled charging system for the office space (pay-as-you-go or buy a certain no. of hours' use a month) has still to be proved, but judging by the fact they've already got a number of occupants bedded in, it seems they're on the right track. And if the variety of people there tonight was in any way reflective of what it's going to be like in the future, it's going to be an interesting place to hang out.

The Hub's website is here, and Christian de Sousa's stunning photography tells the story from concept to launch.
03 Mar, 2005 | social & ethical issues | permalink | (0)

The retail alternative. Two fair trade / ethical retail launches from Oxfam in as many weeks that will be interesting to watch: Progreso, their own chain of fair trade coffee shops, and big Noise Music, a music download service to raise money to fight poverty. Both will be playing in very competitive markets, but even if one (or indeed both) fail, this is more evidence that, in time, we're going to see a fair trade / ethical option available to consumers in every sector.
25 May, 2004 | social & ethical issues | permalink | (0)

Spaced out. Nice, recently re-launched website from the people at Space Plc.
04 Apr, 2004 | social & ethical issues | permalink | (0)

Social shopping. shopsocialenterprise.com, a shopping portal for goods produced by London-based social enterprises, has just launched today. A somewhat eclectic range of goods but a respectable 19 suppliers on board so far.
23 Mar, 2004 | social & ethical issues | permalink | (0)

Compatriots.
How many people are currently blogging on social entrepreneurship? Not many it seems.

Tom Munnecke's blog titled "What is the simplest thing I can do which will have the maximum global humanitarian uplift?" is perhaps be the closest thing. Thomas Madsen-Mygdal, a self-described "Social Designer & Entrepreneur", has a section covering Social Capitalism, but seems to have sprinkled it with as much purely capitalist stuff as socially-orientated references.

Otherwise, it's pretty much lone entries in the blogs of more conventional entrepreneurs: Loic Le Meur has a a single entry in his "social entrepreneurs" category, featuring Mel Young and their meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos; Dina Mehta mostly quotes an interesting muse on the evolving definition of social entrepreneurship by Judith Meskill; Rajesh Jain quotes a NYT article that talks about dot-com'ers turning their hands to more socially profitable pursuits; and T Jacobi quotes some right-on stuff about success from Fast Company.
22 Mar, 2004 | social & ethical issues | permalink | (0)

MySociety. Take a good idea backed by a talented individual, and you hope the funding will follow. So well done to Tom Steinberg for bagging a cool quarter of a million from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to set the wheels of his excellent MySociety project in motion.
18 Mar, 2004 | social & ethical issues | permalink | (0)

 
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Online musings of Richard Alderson: aspiring social entrepreneur, writer, photography-lover and closet geek.

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