The Lonely Business of Changemaking
Back when I was manager for the AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) program at the Initiative Foundation, I often heard VISTA members say it was lonely work. Many were young people who had moved to unfamiliar cities and towns, and most were engaged in projects that were new or experimental. They had to simultaneously prove their ability to execute while demonstrating the viability of the idea to others. A tall task, to be sure.
They learned early on that creating change can be isolating, especially if you are pitted against an all-too-prevalent “we have always done it this way” mentality. The same scenario plays out for social entrepreneurs, who generally are creating a business that does not include profit as the main motive. That goes against the norm. And that can make it an isolating endeavor.
In early November, as program manager for the Initiators Fellowship, I helped organize a virtual gathering of emerging social entrepreneurs and community leaders. What started as a small gathering of the Initiators Fellowship and the Finnovation Fellowship serendipitously became a convening of four fellowship programs when we were joined by Lead for Minnesota and Native Nation Rebuilders. We went from 16 to nearly 40 participating fellows!
From the outset, our goal was to create connections and inspire action. Fortunately, through our emerging relationship with the Native Nation Rebuilders program, we were able to benefit from the wisdom and generosity of Regis Pecos, a member of the Pueblo de Cochiti and co-found and co-director of the Leadership Institute at Santa Fe Indian School. He instilled the idea of working from your core values, and that set a nice tone for the fellows to connect.
I can’t say for sure what happens next, but I know several fellows made new connections and plans for follow-up meetings. Sometimes, we just have to trust the power of people to connect and let new community-changing relationships bloom. And, hopefully, that will make the business of changemaking a little less lonely in the future.
Contact, Chris Fastner, Initiators Fellowship program manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (320) 631-2019.
- Spending Time in the Fellowship: Working ‘On’ and ‘In’ Your Business February 12, 2021
- Growing Greater: 53 Counties Represented in Cohort 3 January 8, 2021
- Year No. 2: From Aspirations to Action December 23, 2020
- The Brain Trust: A Signature Fellowship Event December 11, 2020
- The Lonely Business of Changemaking November 17, 2020