That’s a weighty and undoubtedly SEO unfriendly title, but let me explain.
I once listened to a lecture by Joseph Ellis, the Pulitzer-prize winning historian, called Brotherhood of the Revolution. He artfully described what he called the “Liberal Recipe,” as understood and practiced by the founding brothers.
“It is a society that is bottomed on the principle of popular sovereignty and whose economic policies are rooted in the conviction that the energy of individual citizens need to be released onto the world.”
I can’t think of a better summary of the Business Innovation Factory Summit (BIF-8) than the idea that we are tapping into the energy of individual citizens and watching that energy permeate and inspire others.
Like Robin Chase, the Founder and CEO of Zipcar and Buzzcar. Chase turned the frustration of living in a city and not needing a full-time car into a car sharing service that now has over 100,000 members in 10 cities across the U.S.
This year, she created GoLoco, a ride-share start up that helps members find a driver or passengers and divvies up the cost between the riders. Chase believes that innovation “comes from stuffing your head all full as you can with things not in the same vertical silo of ideas, the same discipline. The newest and most exciting ideas from at the intersection of disciplines.”
And Marc Freedman, the founder and CEO of Encore.org -- a nonprofit that promotes “encore” careers for individuals over 50. Freedman told BIF, “Life is certainly becoming more of long-distance race, rather than a sprint. Why the balloon payment at the end? That’s the insanity of retirement.”
And Teny Gross, the Executive Director, Institute for the Study of and Practice of Non Violence -- a unique organization that teaches nonviolence and provides advocacy for at-risk communities. Born in Israel, Gross was a sergeant in the Israeli army, patrolling the West Bank in the late 1980s.
Gross earned a master's degree from Harvard Divinity School and moved to Rhode Island in 2001 to become the institute’s first employee. By hiring ex-offenders as staffers, Gross trusts former gang members to speak from their own experiences and convince young people not to answer the loss of their friends with more shootings and bloodshed.
And Hillary Salmons, Executive Director, Providence After School Alliance, who created AfterZone -- an innovative approach to education and recreation for middle schoolers who’d normally be setting in front of a video game or out in the streets looking for something to do.
This is just a small sampling of the many storytellers who turned problems or passions into innovative solutions. To echo Joseph Ellis, we are seeing innovations created by impassioned citizens. It is often called grass roots, but I think we need a more powerful metaphor.
So what about popular sovereignty?
Essentially, it is the principle that the source of power lies with the people.
And we are seeing a rebirth of innovation trickling up from individual to larger organizations. It is the individual face behind Facebook. Or Instagram. And, in the case of Teny Gross, the idea that civility can be learned from people who have lived in an uncivilized environment.
BIF is about a productive collision of these individuals -- these unusual suspects. And we are all the better for it.
Thanks again BIF.