Sunday, March 25, 2012

Microfinancing a Community Change Maker Revolution

These are challenging times economically. With official unemployment rates hovering around 8% in both the U.S. and Canada, and millions more either unaccounted for, or severely underemployed, struggling to make ends meet is becoming more the norm. More and more, the promise of getting a college education and then moving up the corporate ladder is disappearing. Not only is it so much less possible in this age of de-unionization and regular corporate layoffs, but for many people, myself including, it's simply not the story of a fulfilling life.

My entire adult life has been dedicated to being a community leader through grassroots service and organizational development. When given the choice between making more money and potentially making the world a better place, I always have chosen the latter. I live my life by the motto "Serve locally; transform the world!," believing that it is both easier to have a deep impact in one's own community, but also that those benefits have ripple effects across the planet. And given how consumerism and privatization have eroded the majority of our communities, there is really no shortage of opportunities to serve locally.

While it may seem like things are dire, the current economic crisis is also an amazing opportunity to reassess how it is that we work and live together. To challenge the stories we have about what is valuable and what isn't. And to learn to come together in renewed, more interconnected ways.

Having spent most of my adult working life employed in various non-profits, I have come to recognize the benefits, as well as the limitations of such work. In some cases, they are the same. Getting a steady paycheck, for example, is often both a blessing and a curse. It's a curse because it can hinder a person's ability to take proper risks and do the right thing for others. What often comes first, at least to some extent, is personal job retention and/or maintaining the reputation of the organization one works for.

And so, a few days ago, I started a month long fundraising campaign. It is based upon the idea of being an independent community re-development worker. Instead of being tied to a single social service agency or non-profit organization, I have been freely investing time in three different communities that I am passionate about. It is an experiment in giving that I hope will inspire others.

I am seeking your help to continue to do this work. If any of what I have written here has inspired you, or caused you to pause and reconsider some aspect of your life, please consider donating to my campaign and/or spreading the information about it to others. The beauty of microfinancing is that no one person or organization needs to foot the bulk of the bill. Just as we are all naturally interconnected through space and time, through mircofinancing, the work we are all doing becomes a more visible demonstration of that interconnectedness.

The times are calling for us to re-place volunteering and community service back in the center. To cease seeing helping others and giving back as something some people do to fill in their time after work, or on the weekends. Please join me, and spread the word, as we together create a new revolution.

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