Conviviality is a word designed for Diogo Vasconceleos – gregarious, intimate, cheerful, gracious. You could settle in to a deep conversation with him the way the earth settled into an orbit around the sun. Simultaneously attracted by his energy and ideas while basking in his curiosity and attention. He gave you European thinkers all nicely lined up on his I-pad. You gave him McKnight, Block, Kahane. The next time you saw him he had read them all and wanted more.
Except there won't be a next time. Diogo died unexpectedly last week fighting a sudden viral attack. His commitment to social innovation had its deepest impact in Europe but the rest of the world including Canada was beginning to take notice of this extraordinary man from Portugal. His mission – nothing less than a grand convergence of government, business and community acting together to tackle our toughest social, financial and environmental challenges. And he would have succeeded – after all he was only 43.
Vickie met him first. And while there were many topics in common, the one that resonated was belonging. From that moment she, Tyze and the importance of relationships in everyone's life were escorted into the boardrooms of European governments, companies and foundations by a man who seemed to know everyone. See here a presentation he made at the Social Innovation Exchange (SIX) Spring School in Paris, 2009 (Innovation and Opportunity in an Ageing Society). SIX was one of the many organizations he chaired, founded or supported while a Distinguished Fellow with Cisco's Internet Business Solutions Group.
Diogo chaired the 2009 European Commission's Business Panel on Future EU innovation policy. The report, Reinventing Europe Through Innovation, broke down the wall between economic and social well being, recommending Europe move from an information to an innovation economy which addressed society's current and emerging social challenges. Vickie and I were fortunate to hear the fruits of that work at the launch of Social innovation Europe in March when President Barossa indicated the EU would address the challenges of ageing in Europe to showcase how the social economy can be a driver of economic health. We suspected Diogo wrote his speech.
Just a few weeks ago Vickie, Geraldine Cahill, Tim Draimin and I were speaking with Diogo about his planned Canadian tour this fall. He was so excited about visiting Canada his warmth would have melted the cold November days we were planning. And Canadians would have loved him too.
Diogo's blog site proclaimed: "We are what we share." Such abundance – the electronic equivalent of the 'loaves and the fishes' captures the indispensability of this dear man whose heart was as big as our globe.
The Next European Renaissance – Social innovation Europe
The Future European Style – Reinventing Europe Through Social Innovation
Thank you Al for these words. People talk about the butterfly effect or the ripple effect – when we heard about Diogo last Friday, it felt more like waves. I was just commenting on Thursday about his incredible accomplishments and was so looking forward to meeting him in person. His impact will be greatly felt in Europe and across the world for years to come.