“Whatever the story, remember to share it – it is your most valuable currency.” These words were used by Mel Ochoa, chief operating officer, Landmark Ventures, to close the final session of the Washington, D.C. leg of Social Innovation Summit 2015. They aptly capture the essence of the Summit, which was a convergence of storytellers, who captivated the attention of the audience by their eloquence and authenticity. They told stories of innovation and impact, born of passion, creativity, and even tragic circumstances. Through the information shared in workshops and plenary sessions, attendees gleaned inspiration and useful tactics to fuel their social innovation drive. Insights gained form a sample of the many prolific presenters are shared below.
Innovation is no Respecter of Age or Differences
Justin Bachman, at age 17 is the Founder of the nonprofit Honor Good Deeds. Through this organization, he empowers people to embrace their differences and live loud through interactive events, in-school/corporate programming and social media campaigns. Justin birthed this idea after he, affected by Tourette Syndrome, ADHD ad dysgraphia, struggled to deal with intolerance to his differences. He shared that, by age eleven he had attempted suicide three times, because of the challenges which came with being different. With courage and determination he has learnt to embrace his differences and is now dedicated to empowering others to do the same.
The Innovative See Potential in Almost Any Resource Available
Even rats can be used for sustainable development. Bart Weetjens, Founder of APOPO, talked about his organization’s HeroRATS initiative, which uses giant African pouched rats to save human lives. APOPO engages some 600 individuals from nine countries, whom they train to train rats in detecting landmines and diseases such as tuberculosis. Since the implementation began, rats have helped to restore significant portions of land in Mozambique, which were riddled with landmines. This story, shared by APOPO Founder, Bart Weetjens demonstrated that big problems can be resolved by the most seemingly useless or offensive resource that is available, once we apply our creative intuition.
Social Innovators See Opportunities in Social Challenges
Grammy Award-Winning Producer/Engineer, Mark Johnson, and his team, saw an opportunity for social impact, in creating a band comprising street musicians from around the globe. Talented musicians can be found in many locales, rendering melodious tones to passersby, sometimes for small change and sometimes for nothing. Moved by such individuals who enjoy giving joy to their listeners, he co-founded Playing for Change to inspire, connect and bring peace to the world through music. They achieve this by harnessing the talent among street musicians. Their first production “Stand by Me”, amassed over 60 million views on YouTube, blazing the trail for the resounding success of subsequent concerts and productions. Through the Playing for Change Foundation, they have set up music and arts schools in nine countries, for children in communities they have visited – breaking down boundaries and uniting people through music.
Storytelling is Important to Mobilizing Support for Your Innovation
The many stories shared, vividly demonstrated that the capacity to innovate is an inherent human quality; the purpose of social innovations is to enhance and sustain human existence; and through collaboration we can surmount the most daunting challenges. Mandar Apte, manager of Shell GameChanger pointed out that innovation is a social process, and it is by sharing, listening and supporting ideas that we connect with a cause, and are more likely to see innovative ideas become reality. “Storytelling is important. Never neglect the human side of your cause,” was his resonant advice.
What’s your story? Remember to share it!