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Just BE Cause: Ah Ha Moments to Inspire the Next Generation of Change Makers

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An anthology, from 33 social entrepreneurs sharing how they re-imagained their game! …

An anthology, from 33 social entrepreneurs sharing how they re-imagained their game!

www.justbecausebook.com

Published in: Education

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  • 1. JUSTBECAUSEAH HA MOMENTS TO INSPIRETHE NEXT GENERATIONof CHANGE MAKERSEditor Syreeta Gates
  • 2. Contentsi Forewordiii Preface1 Introduction3 ‘Cause It’s Necessary — The Problem4 A Crash Course in Social Entrepreneurship — Mark Babbitt7 ‘Cause I’m Possible — The Journey8 Just BE You! — Divinity Barkley, Akua Soadwa, Lincoln Powell, Virgilia Singh14 Just BE: The Tipping Point — Pamela Hawley, Sean D. Carasso, Brenton Gieser, Guesnerth Josúe Perea, Edward González-Novoa27 Just BE Giving — Meredith Chase-Mitchell, Shalena Broadnax30 ‘Cause I Make It Happen — From Idea to Action31 Just BEgin — Bryan Urbsaitis36 Just BE a Business, Man! — Saul Garlick, Danielle Lanyard44 Just BE Impactful — Dale J. Stephens, Jullien Gordon49 Just BE a Resource — Mike Del Ponte, Alex Budak53 Just BE Good — Shipra Prakash, Charles Orgbon58 Just BE on It — Sarah Baird, Brenton Gieser, Drew Little62 ‘Cause I’m Winning — Putting Things in Perspective63 Just BE Charged — Laura White, Zim Ugochukwu, Ashley Seiver and Michelle Dugan72 Just BE… — Michael Karnjanaprakorn, Kanika Gupta75 Just BE Real — Maritza Alarcón, Zim Ugochukwu78 Conclusion: Just BE — We Ain’t Done Yet81 Why Just BE Cause?82 Contributor Biographies92 Meet the Contributors
  • 3. ForewordWe live in a time where our lives are more connected than ever, and it’s BEcausewe want it to be so. Our culture brims with all kinds of social activity — socialnetworking, social media, social change movements, social entrepreneurship. Ourindividual existence has been catapulted into spiraling, concentric circles of opinions,strategies and ideals, feeding and fueling one another in a frenzy of interconnectedbrain waves, or in a less-dramatic fashion, actively and continuously connectingpeople.Generational? It’s highly likely. “Millennials“ are the first generation to grow upalongside the exponential development of the microprocessor. It’s had an indescribableeffect on our connections with others. We are a generation with insatiable access toeach other, to information, to places, to ideas. Faced with the Great Recession of 2008,Millennials (empowered by homegrown economic analysis) remain optimistic of theireconomic future and the economic future of the country as a whole as compared toother generational groups. (Source: Pew Research Center) Millennials are also themost diverse American generation. With problem-solving skills that are infused withshared insights from various cultures and ethnicities, Millennials are poised to takeon some of society’s most pressing issues.The political, economic, and social climate for attacking social ills has never beenmore complex. Incredible social inequity coupled with a rapidly converging globalmarketplace (thank you Google, iTunes, and Amazon) have spawned the largestsector growth in years. The public sector, or more aptly known as the social sector toMillennials, added 160 nonprofits and 8 foundations — per day — between 2007 and2008. (Source: Monitor Institute) Coupled with the emergence of corporate socialresponsibility, social entrepreneurship and B corporations, Millennials stand at a forkof great possibilities. Human capital is now within finger’s reach, and as the worldbecomes increasingly more responsible for itself, Millennials stand at the cusp ofmitigating some of society’s most challenging causes BEcause we strive to be whatwe want to see.BEcause we see a better future and our preceding generations don’t. BEcause wesee what’s possible: Mom, Dad, and video games did not kill our imaginations, theymade our reality more vivid. BEcause we create (Facebook), revise (Tumblr) and adapt(DropBox). BEcause everything that has led us to this point screams “innovation, i
  • 4. change, and resourcefulness.” We’ve lived through monumental moments, some thathave brought humanity together (September 11, 2001) and some that have torn usapart (Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell, transitioned February 4, 1999 and November25, 2006, respectively). We have come to understand that our access to information,people, ideas, resources, and human capital means little unless we act for the causewe believe is just.Just BEcause is about action. It’s about the tremendous, unbridled power that existsthrough creation, entrepreneurship, and collaboration. In a time when ideas spreadas fast as one can type, action is what makes a difference. It distinguishes the changemakers from the rest and empowers those who are empowered by cause. JustBEcause is more than a massive collection of wisdom. It is action taken by leaders,innovators, and executives BEcause they sought a change, saw something othersdid not, or wanted to contribute to a vision that could benefit others . . . just BEcause.Just BEcause is about taking your cause, your spark, and BEcoming the change youwant to see. Just BEcause is meant to demystify, encourage, and guide your cause toaction, to Being, to benefit not only you but those you will empower. Why? Just BEcause.Mekaelia Davis ii
  • 5. PrefaceIt takes so much work just to BE. Many processes happen simultaneously just foryou to be here. Your blood flows, your skin sheds, your heart beats, and even whenyour body is still, you are breathing. Did you command these parts to flow, to shed,to beat? Probably not. They mysteriously function on their own. You are constantlymoving. Parts of you transform and the cells inside of your body shift as you read thewords on this page. My thoughts, these words, and your interpretation are shapingthe makeup of your BEing.Let’s take this moment to thank your Being, to acknowledge the beautiful design ofyou. Thank every detail, down to the lines on your hands, the texture of your bones,the lining of your muscles, the shape of your teeth, the curve of your hips, the color ofyour hair, the sound of your voice, and the essence that is your love. Give thanks forthe opportunity to BE you another day.The SourceWe are powered by something — something special, something divine. With thispower, we create visions of the world we wish to see. We create moments to sharewith people around us. We create movements to change the lives of others. Wededicate ourselves to a cause that provokes action, moves us forward, and ignites afire that has the potential to spread through the universe like the stars in the galaxy.This is some real cause-mic sh*t (pun intended).This divine source gives us super powers. It sends waves of inspired thoughts andpulls toward us experiences that breathe life all over us. We may go through trauma,devastating loss, or have a life-altering experience that can make or break us. Theseexperiences may rehabilitate and inspire us to create initiatives that mobilize people,kick-start projects that uplift communities, and come up with brilliant ideas to solvethe world’s problems like hunger, literacy, and poverty. This life source empowersand energizes us to live in total conviction.The PromiseThis is your story. You are the light, the superhero, the agent of change. With yourpowers, you move people across oceans of possibilities. Have you ever thought aboutthat moment, the moment that you knew that this was your journey? You transformeda tragic, traumatic, and deeply personal experience into a movement that spoke to iii
  • 6. people’s hearts. You turned what could have easily been a negative into a positive.You exercised your alchemy. This moment of clarity activated something inside ofyou, and you made a promise to use your experience to improve the lives of peoplenear and far in a powerful way. This becomes your legacy.Building BridgesI used to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge every Sunday morning. Every time, it remindedme of the breathtaking beauty of New York City. I felt a huge sense of gratitude as Iwalked across the bridge. It was designed and built by people who committed theirlives to this cause. As a result of their commitment, citizens of the New York area (andeven the world) use the bridge, easily and effortlessly, to travel to and from Brooklynand Manhattan. This massive 5,989-foot bridge of steel, cable, and stone continuesto carry and inspire millions of people. Why is it such a big deal? What was the storyof the Brooklyn Bridge? This led me on a quest to understand the magnitude of thework behind this magnificent beast.Thirteen years, fourteen thousand tons of stone and steel, fifteen million dollars, andtwenty-seven deaths after it was designed, the Brooklyn Bridge opened to the publicon May 24, 1883. We may never know the challenges, pain, and names of the men andwomen who sacrificed their lives for it, but we know that the Roeblings had a dream.They dedicated themselves to a cause and were committed to completing what isnow one of the most respected and visited bridges in the world. The Brooklyn Bridgehas become not only a national historical landmark but also an iconic part of the NewYork City skyline.Emily Warren Roebling, the wife of John Augustus Roebling, who originally designedthe bridge in the late 1860s, was the first lady on the project. She was the first to walkacross it, and the bridge was dedicated to her in honor of her relentless giving to herhusband’s dream and to all of us. Without her commitment, her moment of clarity,and the life-altering experience of almost losing her husband, the bridge may nothave been completed. The legacy that she and many others left with the BrooklynBridge still touches the lives of many.Giving ThanksNow when I walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, I think of every brick that someonelaid, every cable that someone hung, every family that it fed, every person that hadthe opportunity to enjoy it, and everyone who supported its creation. It has becomea gratitude ritual to give thanks to every part of it. It took me many walks across the iv
  • 7. bridge to get to this place of deep reflection. In fact, these feelings and revelationshave become a big part of why I do what I do. The stories of Emily Warren Roeblingand others like hers inspire me to wake up every morning and live in total conviction.That means that I live purposefully, passionately, charitably, authentically, and alwaysdo my best, even when my best might not be one hundred percent.I’ve come to the conclusion that my cause is to help others live fuller, richer, moreabundant lives through exercising gratitude. I had to go through the transformationmyself. I began to acknowledge every part of my life, the good and the bad, becauseeverything that happens is a blessing to be counted. All that I’ve experienced is formy betterment, and gratitude is a discipline that I exercise daily. I started to see mylife expand, my mind open, and my heart fill with love and support. This simple actionof giving thanks and sharing with others has shifted my life as well as the lives ofpeople around me. Together, we live in abundance and deliver thanks all over theglobe. From one comes many, and from many comes one.Take a look at all that is happening around you. Look at all the people who move youforward, love you, and care for you. Start to acknowledge everything. Whether you areworking on a project, producing a show, throwing a party, writing a book, or havingdinner with friends and family, many things work to orchestrate each experience.Remember to appreciate every part, down to the smallest detail, because this tinycause-mic occurrence is what grows a movement. Giving is the major factor thatlaunches many social causes and propels them to change the landscape of our globalsociety.So why give? Just BE cause.Ashley Mui v
  • 8. Introduction Just BE Cause happened by accident. I stumbled upon a website dedicated to writing e-books and found an article entitled, “How to Write an eBook in Thirty Days.” I was hooked. In doing substantive reasoning and research, I quickly discovered that the“thirty days” mentioned on the website was nothing more than a punch line.For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to write a book — just BE cause. Iwanted to disseminate knowledge, and I wanted people to learn from my mistakes. Ialso knew that because I would never record an album, writing a book was the nextbest thing. I wanted to write about something I was passionate about, something thatI would do even if my work went uncompensated. I wanted to target my generation.This book was imagined, re-imagined, and finally created.Gen Y-ers are coffee drinkin’, remote location workin’, jean and sneaker wearin’,Twitter tweetin’, super plannin’ multitaskers. We want to make money doing whatwe love and lead a fly life. We just do the work and leave the titles to others. Thoughour generation has played a heavy hand in the spread of social entrepreneurship,most of us don’t know that we are social entrepreneurs. We have taken social changeand integrated it into our lifestyles. Conversations among change makers goes a littlesomething like this: “So what’s up?” “Everything is cool, just came from studying abroad in London. They have this amazing social entrepreneurship program over there.” “Really? What made you want to go over there? You know they have the same program in the states.” “I know, but as an undergrad, I studied abroad and loved it. I started an organization that provided resources to young social entrepreneurs.” “That’s amazing! I started a social venture a few years ago myself after attending StartingBloc.” “You did StartingBloc, too? Yes!” “We have a lot to catch up on. Lunch next week? “Cool beans.”Over the years, we’ve seen amazing people leave their legacy. They’ve taken their 1
  • 9. unlimited supply of “ah ha” moments and made the most of them, and now it’s timefor us to get to work. We don’t have to wait until we have had a job for thirty years,kids, a house, and a retirement plan to know the meaning of “Giving More.” Imaginea world where teenagers create the curriculum for their high school educationalongside their teachers or where a twenty-year-old finds a way to integrate greenenergy initiatives in schools across America.Just BE Cause aims to challenge and inspire readers to make that dream a realityby using “ah ha” moments to be the foundation to inspire the next generation ofchange makers. The extraordinary people that have contributed to this book arefriends and colleagues (some I’ve never met). I appreciate them for not only trustingme to compile a book with their words but for also believing in me. I am a twenty-something–year-old girl from Queens, New York, who had a vision that is now areality. Anything is possible.Let’s go get ‘em!Syreeta Gates 2