Stephen Huddart is the Chief Operating Officer of the JW McConnell Family Foundation and a critical participant in our Social Innovation Generation collaboration. The richness and thoughtfulness of his perspective is honed from his extensive background in business, non profits and philanthropy. His inquiring mind generated the following response to:What would you like to become more visible in 2011? You can also Download Becoming Visible - the complete collection of 58 essays.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said that the future belongs to those who give future generations reason to hope. Something that would give us hope is an enduring and visible commitment to creating a resilient society.
The first decade of the 21st Century has demonstrated that we are in a time of multiple and accelerating crises in our economic, environmental, and social systems – issues too complex to be grasped by watching the daily news. The path to resiliency will not be found by charities that provide band -aid solutions; by companies driven to produce continually increasing quarterly earnings statements; nor by politicians whose primary interest is in winning the next election. So the first step is public engagement, informed by our best minds and involving citizens from all walks of life, to shape a vision of what we want things to look like in 10, 100, 1000 years.
As an outcome from the above, we would like to see policy and legal frameworks for transitioning to sustainability. When societyʼs long-term viability is our starting point, it becomes easier to make sensible decisions today. As UBC Professor John Robinson says in relation to energy conservation and cities, retrofitting is important, but making sure that new buildings are designed for sustainability is urgent. We want more examples like 2010ʼs Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, which commits an entire industry to transition to sustainability; and wider recognition of the visionary recommendations of the Task Force on Social Finance.
Finally, if we care about societyʼs long-term health, we need to see continuous and extensive innovation in public education. Education for resilience calls for a new set of skills – emphasizing team-based projects and community service learning on the one hand and self-directed learning on the other. It may be time to re-introduce the practical skills of homemaking and craft – what were once called home economics and shop, useful things to know in a severe downturn, and of likely interest to a group of boys who currently find school irrelevant. At a time when their world is changing faster than school can possibly reflect, we need to listen to students about their needs and preferences.
All of these things I have mentioned are taking place, albeit sporadically and in general beyond the awareness of the mainstream media. Making them more visible would accelerate their spread, and increase hope.
To access Stephen's article for the Philanthropist: Patterns, Principles and Practices of Social Innovation click here.
Please share and distribute to your friends and through your various networks, websites etc. I think you will agree – these are too good to keep to ourselves.