2 and a half minutes to midnight: The power of community

My favorite definition of a community is a group of people who care about each other

more than they have to.

Cheryl Heller

In 1978, James Barnes published a book for the first time in which he mentions the term transformational leadership. Since then, the topic of transformation and leadership has become more and more popular, and our planet Earth and all of us (known and unknown species) who live here, increase our active role in making a difference, whether we want to or not. The Austrian philosopher Wittgenstein said "The boundaries of my language are the boundaries of my world" (1) and when we talk about the topic of transformations, changes, social innovations and the like, I feel the need to invite all of you to read this text with your own words, to process it with your own language and terminology, and to find the time to discover the exact and precise terms that will stick with you for a longer time; because the topic I am writing about is not dedicated to the wealthy or the poor, neither to the disadvantaged or the highly educated. The topic I am writing about is equally relevant to you, whoever and whatever you are and identify with, as it is to your community.

Bistra Kumbaroska - organiser of the Social Innovators Conference, CEE expert for social impact and author of this article - speaking at an event.

In 2017, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced that it is two and a half minutes to midnight. This clock called "Doomsday Clock" was set for the first time in 1947 by a group of atomic scientists in order to raise awareness of the "big global picture" or "the world we live in." The Doomsday Clock is a design that warns the public about how close we are to destroying our world with dangerous technologies of our own making. It is a metaphor, a reminder of the perils we must address if we are to survive on the planet.  In 1947, the clock was set on seven minutes to midnight. After the Soviet Union successfully tested its first atomic bomb in 1949, Rabinowitch reset the clock from seven minutes to midnight to three minutes to midnight. The furthest we have been from midnight is 17 minutes to midnight, in 1991, which scientists explain as a result of the end of the Cold War between America and Russia and the shortening in the production of nuclear weapons.

What our generation should accept without being discouraged is that we have never been closer to midnight before. In such circumstances, it is easy to start criticizing, to fear, to blame, and to regret. Due to my frequent travels, I have the opportunity to talk to different people from different cultures and countries, and I often ask them "why is the world where it is right now?". The answers I receive are varied: because of the unequal distribution of wealth in the world, because of the politicians who seem to live in a parallel universe, because of capitalism, the refugee crisis, etc.

Some people say that there is not one reason or explanation about the situation we are in. So not because of politics or leadership solely, not because of money or capitalism, but because of a systemic mistake in the core design of how we define and measure what is valuable. As long as we continue mastering the art of measuring profit and progress through financial indicators and neglect all the other indicators, the world will continue to look like an unpredictable battlefield in which climate change or migration come only as a shock or crisis. Now is the time to accept reality as it is and to start creating small yet functional examples of different systems of operation and action, systems that enable us to live the change we wish to see in the world.

Exactly such examples of different systems of operations can be seen in the examples of social entrepreneurship and social innovations shared at the Social Innovators Conference 2017. Every one of the speakers represents a businesses that is doing good and doing well. These entrepreneurs are the creators of those new business models that slowly but surely become the subject of research in universities across the globe, as well as one of United Nations strategic goals. As the number of social businesses grows globally, the way we support them is changing and becoming more sophisticated. The Global Social Entrepreneurship Network (GSEN) already includes over 65 members worldwide, organizations and incubators from China to South Africa, from Canada to Macedonia working to support social entrepreneurship in their countries. According to one of their latest surveys, the top 10 best countries to start a social business are France, Israel, England, Singapore, Chile, and Malaysia.

This time, for the first time, we will have the pleasure to host GSEN members and leadership team in Skopje, not only for the Social Innovators Conference but also for a special Learning Workshop scheduled for Oct 3rd-4th 2017. For more details on the work GSEN is doing in CEE, please follow this link. As for meeting the faces behind all these words, you are more than welcomed to book your ticket and join us in Skopje, Oct 2nd-4th! We are there to share, learn and create new transformations together!

(1) 1. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1958, p.149.

Written by Bistra Kumbaroska

Parts of this text have been published in Macedonian in Lice v Lice magazine, Skopje, Macedonia

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