Social entrepreneurship – Not a road to happiness for us?

Posted by on Nov 18, 2014 in social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

(Posted by Keith Campbell)

In my last post, while highlighting a street ministry in Minnesota, I referred to a distinction between happiness and meaning in life. This issue is a prominent point in an article a friend of mine shared with me a few years ago. I would like to discuss the suggested distinction between happiness and meaning here, because it relates to social entrepreneurship work. I regret that I do not recall the author or the title of the article.

The title of this post includes a question. Might social entrepreneurship work not be a path to happiness for us?

Of course the answer partly depends on how we define our terms, and I would like to share my recollections from the article I mentioned above. This article referred to happiness as the elimination of stress. The idea is that stress causes a feeling of being uncomfortable, and happiness is eliminating those uncomfortable feelings.

That makes sense. That is one perspective on happiness.

The article went on to also discuss meaning in life, which the author suggests involves commitment to a cause that is greater than the self.

This also makes sense. This is one perspective on meaning.

What intrigued me about this article was the point that what brings meaning to our lives may not bring happiness. (Recall that their definition of happiness was elimination of stress.) Their point was that what brings meaning to our lives may actually reduce happiness – in that meaningful activities often bring stress!

One of the underlying points to the article is that if we live a meaningful life (follow a cause bigger than the self) then we will add stress (unhappiness) to our life.

Wow. This seems logical.

By engaging in meaningful acts, we are adding stress to our lives.

By focusing on reduction of stress, we are decreasing meaning in our lives.

Of course, it doesn’t need to be “either or.” Most humans seem to mix their attempts for happiness with their attempts to engage in meaningful acts.

These points help me. I feel a fair amount of stress in parts of my life, and it is comforting to view some of that stress as resulting from intentional decisions I make in life. My involvement in social entrepreneurship projects adds much stress to my life. I choose this work, and I accept the consequences.

To repeat the title of this post: Social entrepreneurship – Not a road to happiness for us?

Maybe it is not a road to happiness. Maybe there is more to life than being happy.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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A mobile street ministry with calzones in St. Paul, MN

Posted by on Nov 11, 2014 in social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

(Posted by Keith Campbell)

Innovation to help others in need takes many forms, and an innovator in Minnesota has integrated calzones and church worship for some. Margaret Kelly, an ordained Lutheran minister, is collaborating with a bricks and mortar Lutheran church in St. Paul, to provide an outreach ministry to people in some poorer communities.

I was recently watching a PBS (Public Broadcasting System) news hour, and there was a very brief story on this street ministry. I went to the PBS web site to get the information I am reporting here. I am fascinated by this project’s simplicity and beauty.   

Ms. Kelly, the minister and leader of this outreach project, sees a need for her church to adapt and become more relevant. Through her food truck and calzones, she hopes to help people both physically (with food) and spiritually. Unlike some street ministries that provide food only after people have participated in the religious service, Ms. Kelly hands out the food first, and then conducts her service. She comments, “People are hungry, and I’m not trying to hold people hostage with the Bible.” The PBS web report says, “Of the dozens of people who pick up the meal, only a handful sticks around for the service that follows.”

I admire Ms. Kelly’s commitment to helping others, and I also like her creativity. Calzones? This is an attention-getter.

We don’t need to be an ordained minister to help people in need. Opportunity is all around us, although sometimes that opportunity is difficult to see. In any direction we turn, there is need. Most people try to hide their need, which often makes seeing the need difficult. And most of the time, we may prefer not to see the need because we are so busy.

Regarding us maybe being so busy and not wanting to see the need around us, we are often trying to reduce stress in our lives. I am reminded of an article a friend gave me about 3 years ago that discusses a meaningful life compared to a happy life. The suggestion was that happiness involves freedom from stress, while meaning involves commitment to a worthy cause (that almost always includes some stress.) I think I would like to comment more on this later.

The key points in this post are 1) to celebrate the work of Ms. Kelly, and 2) to suggest that we, as everyday people, have similar opportunities to help others in need.

Although your idea to help a category of people in need may not include an attention-getter like free calzones, I hope you will consider starting one small project at some time in your life.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards.  – Keith

(The information about the calzone street ministry comes from the PBS web site at the following address: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/pastor-brings-food-prayer-sense-community-homeless/  )

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The planned Global Community of Social Entrepreneurs – a few more ideas

Posted by on Nov 5, 2014 in social entrepreneurship | 1 comment

Hello. In the last blog post, I shared a few ideas about the plan to start a Global Community of Social Entrepreneurs. That seems like a good name for this community, even though I hope most of the people who become a part of this community are not yet social entrepreneurs. We are most interested in people who are NOT social entrepreneurs, but who want to learn more about how to help people in need.

The core purpose of this planned Global Community is to help spawn small projects all around the world to help people in need.

Through our web site, we want to:

- be cheerleaders, saying, “You can do it!”

- share “how to” information on starting projects to help others in need.

- provide opportunities for people from around the world to interact with one another to share ideas and collaborate on projects.

- profile normal, everyday people from around the world who have started successful projects.

- provide links to many other helpful web sites in some way related to helping others in need.

 - provide experienced mentors who help guide new social entrepreneurs.

- hold an annual “virtual” conference that hosts highly respected social entrepreneurs from around the world.

Our focus will be on “small.” We want everyday people to consider starting a small project to help a small number of people in need. Small projects are easier than large projects to start and manage. When many small projects doing good exist, then big good is being done.

I have been thinking about this idea for over a year, and a small team of people from several nations has been establishing the foundation for this idea for several months. We are now awaiting technical assistance from a web designer at my university who has been assigned to this project.

I hope that we are within a month or so from beginning to load content onto a newly developed web site through my university (Fort Hays State University). But life has taught me that many projects take more time than it seems that they should. So I am trying to be very patient.  

I have much hope for this idea. Maybe it can make a contribution to some communities within our world.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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Our changing world, and a Global Community to help others in need

Posted by on Oct 29, 2014 in non profit organization, social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

I have had an idea for a year or so. It is to try to build a team of people and delivery systems (such as web sites) to help spawn small projects to help others in need. The global stage is where I want to take this idea. I would like to be a part of the building of a Global Community of Social Entrepreneurs.

Our world is changing, as we all know. People are connected by technology, and we can be in quick contact from almost anywhere in the world. Being able to easily and cheaply interact brings many opportunities, for example, sharing information and collaborations. Sharing information about how to start projects to help others in need is a part of my idea regarding this possible Global Community of Social Entrepreneurs.

Another world event is a growing middle class in developing nations. This world change has amazing impact on the life situations and mindsets of millions of people. When people are in poverty, they have little time or reason to think about how to help others in need. But when people move into the middle class, they have discretionary income, and free time to think and look around their community and world. Many middle class people see people in need when they look around their community and world, and some build an interest in helping.

So increasing connectivity and a growing middle class in our world are two significant events that encourage me to predict an explosion of social entrepreneurship projects in the next two decades. The CNN Heroes web site is an illustration of the work that is being done around our world right now. I believe there will be many more innovative small, local, grassroots projects in the coming decades, and I would like to help these projects emerge.

Early steps are being taken at my university to build the foundation for this possible Global Community of Social Entrepreneurs, the purpose of which will be to help spawn small innovative projects that help others in need anywhere in the world. Although there is great opportunity for innovative projects in the U.S. and other technologically advanced nations, the greatest growth of social entrepreneurship projects will be in nations where economic growth has recently been spread across the nation and the middle class is growing. Thus, I hope that this possible Global Community will be able to have a special focus on these nations.

In this blog post, I want to share that my university, Fort Hays State University, plans to collaborate with a nonprofit I am associated with to build this Global Community of Social Entrepreneurs. Although the launch of a web site to share free information and build this Global Community may still be months away, I want to share that we have a steering committee composed of people from the following nations: China, India, South Africa, Egypt, Cameroon, Uganda, and the United States. This steering committee is building content for the web site and working with technicians at my university to help make the web site a reality.

Starting a Global Community is a big dream. Most dreams don’t become reality. Although this dream still might not become reality, I think it will. We are moving slowly and hopefully carefully. Within the next 12 months, I am very hopeful of having a university-sponsored web site that will provide free information to anyone in the world on how to start projects to help others in need. I would like to share more about our ideas for this Global Community in my next post.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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Previously incarcerated individuals

Posted by on Oct 21, 2014 in social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

In Keith’s latest blog he began a discussion on business models that employs previously incarcerated individuals. This is an area I am also passionate about. I have mentioned before about the urban eco-village project I am part of here in Columbus Ohio. The founder of the Franklinton Homestead, Dr. Hottle, has a real passion for helping those in need, especially previously incarcerated individuals. So part of our project houses and employs folks who have been incarcerated and are now destitute because of the stigma they hold. Most of us are aware of the downward spiral that happens once an individual has become a felon. These folks help us rehab houses that we will eventually turn into co-houses. We are also working on some vocational rehabilitation, helping these individuals start their own handy person businesses. While I am not directly involved in this part of our project, it made me realize something about my neighborhood. There is a large untapped work force here.

I am writing this because I want to support the idea of helping previously incarcerated individuals get back to work. The danger and instability of the large neighborhood I live in comes from the high unemployment rates. I go out and talk with these folks and sometimes they even come into the gardens and ask for work.  From my observation, we need to get these folks to work as a commitment to improving society. I think an unfortunate result of our judicial system is that it has a way of destabilizing our communities by making people ineligible to work. I see firsthand the results of this, which include the creation of very dangerous areas of my city including my neighborhood where people are actually afraid to go outside.  The creation of programs to put these people to work will be the future, and I believe social entrepreneurs have an opportunity to lead the way in this movement.  

Kevin Wilson
MLS in Social Entrepreneurship
PhD Student in Public Administration

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1) Web address for the free social entrepreneurship course, 2) A simple example of for-profit social entrepreneurship

Posted by on Oct 15, 2014 in social entrepreneurship | 1 comment

1) Web address

Hello, readers. In my last post, I shared some information about my third free online social entrepreneurship course that starts on October 29, 2014. This is a five week course available to anyone anywhere in the world with access to the Internet. For those interested, we have a web site set up to share information about that course, as well as provide a link to register. If you know of anyone who might be interested in this free course, would you please share the following web address with them? Thanks very much.

http://helpotherstoday.net

2) A simple example of for-profit social entrepreneurship

I was in a small manufacturing business in another state a couple months ago, one with around 10 employees. This business manufactures sport fishing boats, and they had some used boats I was looking at. The owner of the business was very friendly, and he asked me my profession, and then what I teach at my university. I told him that my focus is courses that help students start projects to help others in need. His face lit up, and he started to tell me about something he is doing in his business.

He said there have been several people who have been in prison ask him for a job building his boats. He told me he took a chance on one person a while back, and this person has been an exceptional worker. The owner of the business said, “This person didn’t know I knew he had been in prison, and one day I told him that I knew about that, and he could relax and not be afraid I would find out and then fire him. I told this worker that it doesn’t matter to me that you were in prison because you are such a good worker.”

This business owner then went on to tell me that he has hired another person who had been in prison, and that these two men are very appreciative of the opportunity to have a job. The business owner said, “These men seem to have built a very strong commitment to this business, and I have a strong commitment to them because of their high quality of work.”

It seems to me that this small business owner has started a small social entrepreneurship project within his business. He likes helping these men who have difficulty finding a job, he likes the strong commitment they have to his business, and he likes the work they perform.

For-profit businesses sometimes work to help a certain category of people in need, as well as work to make a profit. This social conscience within for-profit businesses to try to help people in need is very special. Although in my work I focus on nonprofit social entrepreneurship, there is a big for-profit world out there also making important contributions.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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Free 5 week online course on starting projects to help others – October 29, 2014

Posted by on Oct 9, 2014 in grant writing, non profit organization, social entrepreneurship | 5 comments

Hello, all. Before I share information about a free social entrepreneurship course I am teaching, I want to thank Kevin Wilson for the last few posts on this blog site. Kevin brings an important perspective to this site, and he will continue making frequent contributions. Thanks, Kevin!

Now I would like to share information on the free course I will be teaching. My university (Fort Hays State University) and I are offering our third free course on social entrepreneurship available to anyone in the world with access to the Internet. The start date is October 29. Some readers of this blog participated in one of the first two offerings. (Thanks very much.)

I am very pleased with the first two offerings. In the Fall of 2013, we had 844 students from 54 different nations. In the Spring 2014 offering, we had 793 students from 47 different nations. What is most amazing to me is that for the two course offerings, representatives from 71 different nations (more than 36% of the nations in the world) participated. I am pleasantly surprised with the breadth of international interest in this free course.

If you have not yet taken this course, please consider it. Also, if convenient for you, please mention the course to others who might be interested.

Many issues related to social entrepreneurship are discussed, but the core part of the course provides step-by-step suggestions for building your project. Is there a category of people in need you would like to help but have not yet started? If so, this course will provide some useful perspective on how to proceed.

Some social entrepreneurship projects are never organized into a nonprofit format, while others are. In addition, some projects are a part of for-profit ventures. There are several ways of organizing our social entrepreneurship work, and successful careers can be built from either the for-profit or nonprofit approaches.

It is an honor for me to have the opportunity to teach my third free course on social entrepreneurship available to anyone in the world with access to the Internet. If you are able to spread the word about this course, I would appreciate that.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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