"My name is Gwendolene Mugodi and I am a writer and the founder of Paivapo Storytellers, a movement that aims to provide better access to local, good quality literature to the children in Zimbabwe--and eventually beyond. Our work would not be complete without the help of local artists like Abel Zvorufura who I met through the National Gallery of Zimbabwe. As two different artists we spent about a month and a half going back and forth on this book until we got to a place we were both happy with. I look forward to sharing that full book in a few months, but for now here's a little bit about Abel and why he does what he does."
The Value of Fun
Entrepreneurship is a famously demanding career, which is why for successful entrepreneurs, it’s not a career, it’s a life style. For social entrepreneurs, this life style stands to be even more all-consuming. After all, your minimum viable product isn’t just defined by how much a user likes it, but also by its social impact. That’s a hefty call to action and the reason that social entrepreneurship isn’t a 9 to 5 summer job. It’s a 24/7 initiative for your entire team.
It takes a true team that’s worth more than the sum of its parts to keep up the 24/7 pace. No matter how productive each individual is, there’s no match for a team with a sense of empathy and compassion for each other. The Better World by Design committee has learned that first hand since its beginning six years ago. This year, we took care to make sure that beyond the meetings, emails and phone calls, there was a common bond; a friendship with a social mission. Now, with our committee spread around the world, our smaller groups in Providence and New York City are getting together, hitting the town and hitting the road. We’re keeping the social impact fresh with a little good old fashioned fun. For the crew here in Providence, we decided to get out of the city and head north, to my family’s house in Maine for a weekend.
I never thought I’d see a ZipCar with Rhode Island plates parked in my driveway at home, but there it was on a Friday night after a three hour drive. Saturday, we adventured to Monhegan Island, 12 miles off the coast of Maine, for a day of hiking and exploring the tallest cliffs in Maine. We capped it off with a swim in a hidden glacial pond and a lobster bake over a roaring fire in our back yard. In a single 48 hour ZipCar rental, we covered good ground and had a quintessential Maine weekend. But the travel dairy isn’t the important part.
The real benefit of the getaway is obvious in the picture of our group smiling on the front stoop with my mother and our loving dog Lady. For the Better World by Design Providence Outpost, we had a 48 hour long trust fall. We trusted Jeff with the road trip playlist (good choice) and Keela with her first lobster. More importantly, we returned to Providence a team forged in the fires of Boston traffic and refreshed by the ocean air of the Vacation State. We came back ready to pick up where we left off with renewed enthusiasm, having spent a weekend actively avoiding email and our To-Do lists. I have no doubt the progress we’ve made since then is in part thanks to the smiles seen on our front stoop, and the bag of freshly picked peas stuck under Keela’s arm.
As important as full commitment to your mission is, the value of a balanced lifestyle and cliche team bonding can’t be over estimated. As Richard Branson of Virgin Group advises, take a break and put business to the back of our mind - but not out of it. Be it while riding the downward swell of an Atlantic wave, or jumping ten feet down into a lake, vacations serve as more than a break from work. They serve to refocus the mind and place problems in a new light. Taking a breather along with your team only magnifies the benefits. So give it a try. Gather the group; set those vacation responders; push off into the summer. Inspiration won’t be far behind.
August 11, 2016
June 13, 2016
Lauren Maunus '19 is starting a bold new venture.
Its goal: To help eliminate food waste and bring healthy, affordable food to "food swamps" in Rhode Island and beyond.
March 15, 2016"If little girls like me were saying Barbie is the pretty one and the brown one is the ugly one, that's a problem."
Yelitsa Jean-Charles studies Illustration at RISD with a a concentration in Gender, Race & Sexuality. She identifies as a visual activist, and believes that artists have a responsibility as society’s image-makers. Her doll company and book series, Healthy Roots, combats internalized racism and colorism by getting to the root of the problem: altering beauty standards and cultviating self-love for young girls through education, diversity, and positive representation.
March 12, 2016An Excerpt
Mina is a Brown-RISD Social Innovation Fellow. She traveled to her home in Iran last summer and brought back a cultural souvenir: the book she wrote, Taste of Culture. She explores Iranian families, streets, stores and the stories and spirit embedded in the recipes of Iranian food. She hopes to start a conversation about the benefit of knowing cuisines of different cultures to connect societies.
This year's class of Brown-RISD Social Innovation Fellows have just begun their yearlong foray into the world of social entrepenuership. Check out their projects here.
December 16, 2015
Ria is a 2015 Social Innovation Fellow and co-founder of No Country for Women (NCFW), an internationally-recognized gender education initiative that aims to combat systemic gender-based discrimination in India. Ria and her co-founder, Shreena Thakore ’16, who grew up in India, were awarded the Projects for Peace fellowship and used this grant to launch the project in May of 2014. NCFW was set up to educate the people in India on gender, rape culture, and misogyny through a series of workshops and initiate informed discussions about social change.
I was inspired by Ria’s story because she was determined to start a conversation about an issue in a country that fights hard to keep such issues silent and hidden. We reflected on Ria’s experiences, her interactions with young people, most of whom had never thought about this obvious form of discrimination before, and her moments of self-doubt and extreme conviction.
October 2, 2015