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Presidential Debate: Focus on Inclusivity

If I were hosting the upcoming presidential debate on domestic policy, what questions would I ask?

They would center on inclusivity:

  • How can we challenge the economic beliefs that are holding back our economy?
  • How can we include the poor as a source of resourcefulness, innovation, and business opportunity?
  • How can we better identify and support local (social) entrepreneurs?
  • What urban centers are taking the lead in creating sustainable, inclusive communities?
  • What innovative approaches to education are working and can prepare students for meaningful careers?
  • How does social wellness use existing resources to create more inclusive health for us all?
  • What does inclusive leadership look like?
These broad questions deserve our unwavering attention. No matter how you keep score--99 to 1, 53 to 47, or something else--too many are struggling to have decent life. 

What if I were asked these questions--how would I answer them?

Glad you asked: In my new book Inclusivity: Will America Find Its Soul Again (written with Christian Sarkar, who also created paintings for the book), we tell fifty stories about those who are taking giant strides in tackling these issues. These vignettes tell of entrepreneurs leading a resurgence in Detroit, Tony Hsieh (founder of Zappos) reinventing Las Vegas and David Orr (a leader in the environmental movement) creating the most sustainable community anywhere in the US, the midwest community of Oberlin, Ohio. We tell how poor kids--in our inner cities or equally poor rural areas--are being given new educaitonal opportunities and are rising to the occasion. We tell how doctors are writing prescriptions for food, how struggling high school students become devoted and successful tutors, and how a national entrepreneur identification and training program in South Africa could become a model for the United States.

More inclusive education and health care would go a long way towards fully using the talents of our populace and creating expanded opportunity for everyone--wealthy and poor alike. More inclusive places to live coupled with more inclusive economics would create not just a fairer, but a stronger, country. Those blazing the trail of inclusivity exhibit a kind of leadership that is uncommon--creating value for others first. But it is within the reach of us all.

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Back in the saddle, writing this blog after more than a month away. (NOTE to self: see if blogging saddles are the next great investment.)

What's been going on?

1. Drafted a new book on creating Inclusivity in the United States.  

The aim is see how we can create better, and more inclusive, health, education, economics, and more--right here at home. Kind of a manifesto for dismantling BOP-USA--the system which keeps too many Americans at the Bottom Of the economic Pyramid while stacking the deck to favor the very few.  

My co-author on this effort, Christian Sarkar, and I are now making this book more bite-sized--un-writing it, so to speak--so that its message passes through more eyes, reaches more minds, and leads to more action. 

Stay tuned: this is ready to "pop."

2. Been thinking "local."  

I attended my first-ever BALLE conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Don't let that sentence fool you into thinking I'd been contemplating attending a BALLE event for a while: I had never heard of BALLE until Paul Saginaw, of Zingerman's and a BALLE board member, recently told me about it. Once I attended, it felt like my crowd, and I was amazed that it had been hidden (from me), but in plain view.

This conference rearranged a few pieces in my mental jigsaw puzzle of how best to create change, causing me to re-think some ideas and giving me evidence to reinforce others that had been looking for support.

3. Still on the trail doing interviews.

It's been my privilege to talk to amazing changemakers.  I think I've become addicted.

Many are in Detroit, but the roster is truly international. The more I listen (and learn), the more optimistic I become--whether about innovative approaches to health in Detroit (thanks, Bobby Smith of En Garde Detroit) or about piggybacking on cell phone technology to light up Africa (thanks, Lesley Silverthorn Marincola of Angaza Design).

These interviews form the backbone of two works well underway: 
  1. What I Wish I Knew Then: Becoming a Social Entrepreneur, a book with Cynthia Koenig of Wello and 
  2. a study of entrepreneurship and renwal in Detroit, with Neesha Modi.

My technology (which is not always the latest and greatest--I'm still holding out against smart phones) tells me Summer starts tomorrow.  What does your technology say?

Goals for the rest of Summer include keeping the ol' blog galloping along (better make that trotting) to let you know about the new books and Detroit-based activities, and to share stories, ideas, and lessons learned from the cool folks kind enough to share their experiences with me so that I have something truly of value to share.  Oh, and to avoid saddle sores.

Happy trails!

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