June 23, 2009
Craigslist Foundation Bootcamp: Contribute & Give Back
The Craiglist Foundation 6th annual bootcamp had an interesting line-up of speakers and panelists from volunteer and non-profit worlds this past weekend in Berkeley.
The wrap-up panel included: Craig Newmark, Arianna Huffington, founder of Action Without Borders Ami Dar, AllforGood's Jonathan Greenblatt, Rich Harwood of the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, Shirley Sagawa, co-founder of Sagawa/Jospin Consulting, and Steve Wright, Director of Innovation for Salesforce.com Foundation.
Wright says, “I’m hoping for the day when marketing becomes synonymous with truth telling. Ultimately that’s really where we have to be. We keep borrowing stuff from the corporate sector. We have to have more real value in decreasing poverty in the same way that a corporation generates real revenue. It has something to do with competition and something to do with collaboration.”
Harwood talks about the fact that all of this is just a journey and you have to keep moving forward, applying different approaches along the way. In other words, our work doesn't end. He says, “there are ways we feel that we have to tell stories. It holds greater meaning from what you learn throughout the journey."
Greenblatt says, “so much of the innovation is happening at a grassroots level. Here’s where technology comes into play to help empower you. Using social tools like Twitter and open source tools, it becomes bottom up. Throw your API out there when you build things. The point here is that this revolution is not going to happen top down, it has to happen bottom up." He adds, "keep driving change in your own communities.”
Ami Dar reminds us that it can't just be about the technology. He says, “it's really about the people. We’re almost over emphasizing technology. The Romans actually built an empire without Facebook. People are amazing. Technology is useful, but in some ways, technology is making us less ingenious. Technology is not the answer. We are the answer. Technology is just a tool.”
Wright pipes in, “I agree with that. With social networking, we’re still focusing on the node rather than the network. The power is the lines between the people. It’s in the relationship not in the individual. Even when I hear things through Facebook, it’s still push. One of the things we haven’t figured out yet, is how do we discover aggregate value. It’s not about the social networks, it’s about how do we discover what is of value in what people are doing.”
It's not just about service and volunteering to give back, it's about a commitment to a cause, something you are truly passionate about.
Craig shares jokes but there’s a serious sentiment behind them. He says, “in our case, Craigs List is like a flea market, a marketplace where people come to do commerce but also to socialize. People come together to do what they want to do. Build the right platform and then get out of the way. People will mobilize and generate their own communities.”
Arianna adds to the community thread, “we evaluate what is fun. Why is it fun to shop in a mall? I find it completely exhausting. People have more time on their hands, people watch TV, search on Wikipedia."
She asks, "What is it that makes people interested in something? The conventional ways of how people spend time are not necessarily how people may have the most fun.”
Overall, the pitch between the lines is: get passionate about something you believe in, have fun in the process, bring others to the table to do the same, give back and make an impact in the world. Contribute to something greater than yourself.
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