IDE, w1sd0m, Skoll World Forum, Oxford Jam, TedXVolcano..
WOW! I don’t know how it happened, but somehow life has conspired to effect collaboration on a global scale. Ride-sharing, couch-surfing, new communities and networks forming … its mind-boggling and unimaginably inspiring. Last week, Oxford UK became the nexus of global social entrepreneurialism – launching a phenomenon (with a little help from a volcano in Iceland) that feels as if it has irrevocably altered the landscape for social entrepreneurs, their projects, and the people they exist to serve.
I came to Oxford During the Skoll World Forum for Social Entrepreneurship on behalf of IDE – (International Development Enterprises), a 28 year old organization founded by Paul Polak. I was to meet the international board and discuss how IDE could achieve greater scale and impact by helping more people at the Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) sustainably increase their income . We stayed at Corpus Christi college and enjoyed gorgeous days and intensive discussions with great minds. I managed to make it to OxfordJam for a breakfast about online collaboration platforms for Impact Investing – I could only stay for an hour, yet even in that brief period met an incredible group of people open to innovation and collaboration on a scale I’ve never before experienced.
The volcano had already erupted, but nobody paid it any mind till the conferences were over and we realized that we were stuck. So back to London we all went..
… and so now, a new community is being born that is coming together in an even deeper way.
Saturday there was a great Kiva event where people shared Kiva trivia, their own business ideas, and trains and bus trips to the south of France and other places were arranged.
Here’s a little video clip of Matt Flannery, Kiva C0-Founder, and Premal Shah, President:
After this fun trivia contest, Matt & Premal asked if anyone had an emerging company and would like to talk about it. I stood up and introduced w1sd0m, an emerging network that I’m helping to build as core team, that helps social & sustainable enterprises like IDE (For which it’s already opened a lot of doors) find the intellectual, human, social & financial capital they need.
Sunday was the first ever “TedXVolcano” organized by Nathanial Whittemore, Evan Grant & June Cohen. In 36 hours these rockstars brought together TED, TEDxLondon, The Hub, Sandbox Network, Newspepper.com, & Robert Leslie along with Skoll World Forum Speakers and other great minds such as Matthew Bishop, Jim Hornthal, Gary Bolles, Peter Greenberg, Elizabeth Lindsey and musician Shesheela Raman.. Click here for the story of how they did it..
One of my favorite moments was when Jeff Skoll read his volcano poem:
This is an ode to the volcano
That sent our travel plans into the draino
I’m not really one to complaino
But this all hurts my little braino
Madrid, Casablanca, Amsterdam, Rejkavik on cruiseships
The trains will fail
All the escape routes that we planned
Are blocked by nature or by man
We heard the French trains may soon be striking
At this rate we’ll all be biking
With our luck we’ll all be struck by lightning!
This is all rather frightening
So better we all meet at TED
That is what I should have said
So thank you June and thank you all
Damn the volcano, let’s have a ball
Presented at TEDXVolcano, London, 4/19/2010
Monday afternoon, Suzanne Biegel, social venture investor and “catalyst at large” (i love her title!) and Dr. Audrey Selian of Rianta Capital organized some action-takers from the Friday OxfordJam breakfast who have built collaboration and connection platforms for impact investors and social entrepreneurs. Socential, Artha, ClearlySo, Nexii, Sasix, Gexsi along with w1sd0m were there to talk about ways to collaborate in an efficient way and eliminate waste of resources for entrepreneurs, and the networks themselves.
Another networking event after this meeting led to even more fascinating conversations over dinner with Jill Finlayson & Jason Clark of SocialEdge, Lora O’Connor of Citizenglobal.com, Cathy Clark who runs the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) program at Duke, Suzanne Biegel, Sean Holt, David Green (Solar World for All), and others.
Waking up this morning I’m slammed with all of the ideas, people, and inspiration swirling in my head. I don’t even need coffee!
As much as being ‘stranded’ in London would be viewed by many as disastrous, the remarkable thing about this exceptional group of people is that, when faced with no other options, they simply turned lemons into lemonade. For the past ten days, due in no small part to the intercession of the very earth so many are working to save, some of the most brilliant minds and open hearts in the world have come together to talk, to dance, to celebrate – and most importantly of all, to find new ways of working together (as the Buddhists would say) in service to all beings.
I’m grateful and honored and humbled to have been invited to engage with these people, at this time, in this way.