Four Things We're Looking Forward to Most from the National Conference on Volunteering and Service

You may have noticed that we're big on service here at GOOD. We've long been inspired by and helped support the work of civic ventures and community-based projects, from the big players like City Year and 826 National in the education space, to upstarts like the Noun Project and Verynice in the social design space. One of the common threads that runs through these organizations is that they are powered by service and volunteering—these folks are problem-solving on a hyperlocal scale, but with scalable impact that presents useful models to other aspiring social entrepreneurs.

This week in Washington, D.C., Points of Light hosts its annual Conference on Volunteering and Service—one of the largest gatherings anywhere of civic leaders and social hackers. Thousands will be in DC to connect and inspire, to learn from and train each other. GOOD will be there too.

1) The conference theme is "Service Unites," and the Wednesday, June 19 kick-off sets the tone with an opening roundtable talk featuring folks from the conservative end of the political spectrum (Karl Rove and Bill O'Reilly), as well as from the liberal end (Donna Brazile and David Plouffe). It will be interesting to hear how service and volunteering unites this group.

2) Adam Grant, author of Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, as well as the subject of this great recent NYT magazine cover story, will give a talk on the connections between altruism, giving and taking, and an upward path in the workplace. His approach to organizational psychology and the dynamics of reciprocity are fascinating as outlined by that NYT piece:

The greatest untapped source of motivation, he argues, is a sense of service to others; focusing on the contribution of our work to other people’s lives has the potential to make us more productive than thinking about helping ourselves.


3) Frans Johansson, author of The Medici Effect and The Click Moment, is something of a guru on social innovation. He'll be leading a talk on "The Future of Service" and GOOD will be in attendance to hear more on where he sees the most innovation beginning to happen right now. Given that he believes all new ideas are just combinations of old ones, where are the most vibrant intersections at the moment?

4) Most of all, we're looking forward to meeting the second cohort of the Points of Light Civic Accelerator program—an exciting group of start-up social entrepreneurs launching ventures in four impact areas: education, disaster preparedness, economic development, and environmental sustainability. The founders of each of these ventures are in the middle of a twelve-week incubator to refine their mission and value proposition. At the end of this bootcamp, two of these ventures will receive $50,000 launch investments from Points of Light's partner Village Capital. These are the tinkerers and doers on the front lines of community engagement and civic change—the folks building the next City Year or 826 National.

barnraising image (cc) wikimedia commons

Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

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RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

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