Social Entrepreneurs, Social Change, Government & You

July 31, 2009 Leave a comment

Last week while in DC for a work assignment, I took time to connect with a brother-colleague and former professor of mine, Dr. Shaun Casey, who teaches Christian Ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary, and served as Senior Advisor for Religious Affairs for the Obama Campaign.  As he is gearing up for another semester, he is also in he throes of promoting his new book,  The Making of a Catholic President: Kennedy v. Nixon 1960 and finds himself  well suited to speak to the transformative historical moment and opportunity that is the Obama presidency.  As we caught up, shared stories from the campaign trail, and spoke of our common passion for public theology, transformative policy making and ushering in social change informed and fueled by the grassroots,  he shared of his enthusiasm for the  White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, and for the work of Senior Advisor for Social Innovation for the White House Domestic Policy Council, Michele Jolin.

Mentioning her work as Vice President of Ashoka, and with the Center for American Progress, Casey shared how he was hopeful that office’s ability to appreciate the role of  harnessing the thinking and experience of community-based,  faith-based, and other grassroots located  change agents to build policy and enact solutions for  some of our most intractable national issues. He recommended that I contact her directly (which I will, so stay locked in to this blog site), and also that I check out a book she co-edited, Change for America. In the book, Casey makes this claim in an article he authored, and which collectively sets forth a blue print of recommendations to the Obama Administration for real…change.  I recommend you check it out as well, so that we may continue our blog conversations with it in mind.

Below, the founder of Ashoka, Bill Drayton, shares their theory of change — that coming alongside those persons who are usually outside of the mainstream, located in community, and coming up with innovative solutions to intractable social problems (= social entrepreneurs), is a way towards social change, true transformation, and in response to Curtis’ post of yesterday, towards the global mind-set shift that we so desperately need.

What do you think? Is social entrepreneurship a viable way to go on this journey towards systemic, structural change? What role can and ought government play – really — in all this?

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