The Brooklyn Comedy Company Proudly Presents the 4th Episode of season 2 of This Week in Blackness. In the latest episode host Elon James White talks about the past few weeks in so-called post-racial America…and this was even BEFORE the incident involving Professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates that happened a few days ago, right in IISC‘s backyard. (For more on that connection and an extension of last week’s lively discussion on same, check out Princeton Professor and MSNBC regular Melissa Harris Lacewell’s recent blog in “The Nation” entitled “Skip Gates and the Post-Racial Project”.) Read the rest of this entry »
Archive for July, 2009
“Beware of the stories you read and tell.They are shaping your world.”-Ben Okri
I’ve been very interested to read more about the research of social psychologists focused on the impact of the order of thoughts when it comes to making changes in behavior. David Hardisty has conducted experiments in which people considering whether or not they would agree to a carbon tax to offset their air travel were asked to jot down the sequence of their thinking as they went about making their decision.
What showed up was that in constructing their preferences, the order of participants’ thoughts really mattered, with early thoughts significantly biasing subsequent ones. For example, people who ultimately rejected a carbon tax had negative first thoughts along the lines of, “I will be dead by the time the world is in an energy crisis,” whereas those who ultimately supported the tax had more positive first thoughts about the welfare of their children or subsequent generations. More intriguing, in a follow-up study, when Hardisty asked people to first make a list of the benefits of a carbon tax and then make a list of cons, this affected their preference in a more supportive direction no matter their political inclinations.
As I sat down to write this morning, I was pulled in two different directions. And laughingly realized (again) that I am pulled, actually, toward creating the bridge between them. Recently, Ellen Gurzinsky posted a fascinating article on her Facebook wall by Derrick Jensen called Upping the Stakes: Forget Shorter Showers – Why Personal Change Does not Equal Political Change. Jensen describes in detail that we become convinced that our individual actions will be enough to address major issues like climate change – and in so doing, stop short of addressing the deeper structural issues at play, and the main culprits – capitalism, industry and agriculture. And so he advocates for changing our focus to structural activism.
I also read a fabulous article about a retreat Pema Chodron did in Seattle this week, in which she talked about Boddhisatva practice – and specifically about the importance of not “getting hooked” with emotional reactions that lead to our own and others’ suffering. She describes that this way of being in the world creates real transformation. And in her amazing way, leads us in the direction of personal transformation to bring about transformation in the world. Read the rest of this entry »
That’s in just 11 years, so what is our vision? Things are changing really fast, so how do we take the shift into account. In his TED Talk on the next 5000 days of the web, Kevin Kelly outlines the contours of the world that is emergent, and it is very different than anything we’ve seen before. What is our role, as individuals and communities, organizations and movements – people who want to see a better world – how do we help shape this?
So much is in the ether about “social innovation.” There is a new office in the White House dedicated to the idea as well as a prestigious journal, Stanford Social Innovation Review and multiple books. The following are only two such examples: Geoff Mulgan’s The Process of Social Innovation 2007 and David Bornstein’s How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas,Updated Edition.
One of the best things that I have read recently is Social Innovation: What It Is; Why It Matters; and How It Can Be Accelerated. In this article the authors define social innovation as “new ideas that work, to meet pressing unmet needs and improve peoples lives”. They introduce us to the stages of innovation from the generation of ideas through prototyping and piloting to scaling up and learning. And they introduce us to the idea of the “bees and trees” i.e. that social change depends on small organizations, individuals and groups who have new ideas and are more mobile, quick and able to cross-pollinate connecting to the trees, which are big organizations like foundations, government and corporations which have the resilience, roots and scale to make things happen.
They posit that it is these alliances that will ensure that new and creative ideas will be translated into new products and services. At IISC we have spent a lifetime steeped in this struggle. We are bees learning constantly, experimenting continually and daunted by the time, effort and cost of turning many of these ideas into real and replicable products and services. While it remains a struggle, it is also our core commitment to “change how change happens” and so it is our dilemma to solve.