They come from all over the world, have different passions and varying approaches but there is one thing they all share: they are all tremendously focused and ambitious individuals.
Every month Designed Good names a new set of chagemakers, people whose work is making a positive impact on the world. What does it take to be a changemaker? We are always looking out for young social entrepreneurs – often just a few years out of college – who are working for social or environmental causes. Some have started their own businesses, others are making a splash in established organizations. For some, their social entrepreneurship is a side project for now, while others have taken time out of their careers or education to take a risk on their exciting ideas. They come from all over the world, have different passions and varying approaches but there is one thing they all share: they are all tremendously focused and ambitious individuals. When presented with conflict, their response is to act and to find a solution.
If it’s something you feel that strongly about, you’ll find a way to make it work.
Jeet Banerjee, another young social entrepreneur, recently gave a TED Talk in which he explores the mindset of people in their twenties. He covers how people under 25 often say that they are too young, or that they don’t have enough money to think about anything besides work. Those over 25 usually say that they are settled on a track and have less time. The truth is that any age is a good time to get started on your good idea or to start something that will help the world. For example, Henry Bergman is still a junior at Williams College and he’s the co-President of Men for Consent, a group that aims to raises awareness about and prevent sexual assault both on and off campus.
Changemakers don’t just do good, but they do good well.
Changemakers do their homework and find out what would be most helpful instead of offering approaches which, while good-intentioned, are actually not solving any long term problem. Take Austin-based Tim Scott: while volunteering along the streets of Austin, he discovered that after food and water, the most requested item among the homeless was socks. So, he went about starting Mitscoots Socks, another one for one company that doesn’t just give but also actively focuses on getting people employed.
There are many different paths you can take.
We’ve featured artists using their skills to save the environment and we’ve seen web designers doing their part for the arts. What’s your passion? Here’s just a sampling of ideas and methods from our past changemakers...
There are many ways you can make a difference beyond petitioning school boards and protests (though those are places to start). Catherine Bellinger is an organizer for Students for Education Reform, a student-led movement that champions education equality for all kids in the United States. Obiageli ‘Obi’ Ukadike is Co-Founder and Director of Program & Development for The WaWa Project, which supports education for disabled children in Ghana and West Africa. Kleaver Cruz takes a more artistic approach to education equality as Dream Director of The Future Project, which inspires youth to follow their dreams and become leaders in the impact space.
Maps for Good, plotting out Patagonia
The environment is an issue that will forever be in need of attention and change, whether it’s through agriculture, science, research, or mapping. Miles Cretin co-founded VeritCulture, an urban aquaponics project. In a different and unique approach to environmental issues, Marty Schnure and Ross Donihue started Maps for Good, an online site where they combine their love of cartography and nature and highlight global projects doing good for the world.
Photo via Food Shift
During the holiday season, hunger usually becomes a main focus, but it’s something that we as a culture should be doing more about year-round. Fortunately, changemaker Peter Walters is taking action. He is Director of Marketing & Partnerships at Two Degrees Food, the first one-for-one food company. So, for every Two Degrees Food granola bar you buy, the company will donate a locally-sourced meal to a hungry child. Food Shift founder Dana Frasz is taking a different route, trying to change the way we think about food consumption and food waste.
Audience watches a play from PlaceBase Productions on the Minnesota River
The arts fuel our culture, and can be a wonderful way to raise awareness about important issues. Rachael Kay Albers calls herself an artist, activist and awesomepreneur. She runs her own web design business that supports social arts projects around the world. PlaceBase Productions, founded by Ashley Hanson and Andrew Gaylord, works with local communities who commission the group to create theater that intertwines community, local history, natural environment and potential futures. By doing this, the partners are uniting communities and encouraging involvement in its development.
Erica Schlaikjer recognized the role technology would play in social entrepreneurship, which led her to start Benevolent Media, a media and events company dedicated to celebrating storytelling and design for good. Josh Riman realized the corporate world was not for him so he quit and started his own social good branding agency based in Brooklyn called Great Believer.
So whatever your passion, you can use it to do something for the world. Make it fun, make it good and make it yours.