Social Innovation: Disrupting Paradigms by SIS Faculty Sarah Bobrow-Williams

The white policeman..finds himself at the very center of the revolution

now occurring in the world. He is not prepared for it – naturally, nobody is -and what is possibly much more to the point, he is exposed, as few white

people are, to the anguish of the black people around him…….

James Baldwin, Esquire, 1960
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What is social innovation? What is sustainability? And, who gets to decide? These questions weave their way through our “SIS” conversations.

Sustainability is about negotiating balance so that neither human or natural life is compromised. When we veer away from the affirmation of life in our systems, be they social or natural, multiple points suffer downstream. According to Donella meadows, nature teaches us that the most awe inspiring intervention in a system is its inherent capacity to transform itself. Meadows likewise proposes that the most powerful leverage point in transforming social systems is disrupting paradigms.

I find myself asking, “what will it take to disrupt a paradigm that upholds the notion that the systemic gunning down of unarmed black men by state sanctioned guardians is justifiable?” It will take nothing short of embracing “Black Lives.” Hopefully the surfacing of “Black Lives Matter” is an indication of our inherent capacity to transform ourselves.

The capacity to transform ourselves, whether we call it social innovation, sustainability or disrupting paradigms, requires openness – a willingness to connect and integrate insights outside of ourselves. Openness is not simply about acceptance, it is about breaking down our immunity and allowing ourselves to engage from the very core of our beings in creative possibility. It is in this space of rawness, and vulnerability and in the spirit of connection, where the possibility for building new relationships and discovering innovative and sustainable ways of doing things emerge.

In what can be termed “the practice of social innovation” there is important work going on around how to facilitate genuine engagement that leads to sustainability – strengthening our capacity for connection and resilience. In the next SIS blog we will hear from Rania Campbell-Cobb,  a 3rd semester SIS student and the recent recipient of Goddard College’s Sustainability Entrepreneurs’ Grant. Rania is the founder of Cloud 9, a non-profit partnership that engages local residents, youth, and a core group of unlikely allies in urban rooftop gardening as a means of nurturing connections essential to re-envisioning new ways of living and being in community.

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This entry was posted in Deep Ecology & Bioregionalism, Economics, Environmental, Sustainability & Place Studies, Faculty, Right Livelihood/ Making a Living, Social Innovation, Sustainability and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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