Drunk with Satisfaction, #FemFuture

I’ve had the desire to create change [work] for the greater good since I was a child. While in college, this need exploded. Boston has that effect on young impressionable students.  It’s a hot-bed of intellectual, liberal politics. I volunteered for political campaigns, for women’s organizations, environmental campaigns, Rosie’s Place and AIDS Action Committee. My greater good has taken many forms, most of which have been reflected at least once in this blog. It’s  women’s empowerment, environmentalism, health/wellness all rolled into one. It’s why I self describe as a tree-hugging, feminist yogini.

My father used to tell me I was born to work for nothing be a volunteer and “you can’t pay student loans working for nothing.” But to me, working for something always meant more than a paycheck.  Ultimately, it’s the reason I went to law school. I thought I could simply skip out on the “work for free, pay your dues” part of the feminist or environmental movements out there and jump right into a management paid position. Oh how naive I was. There is no such thing as skipping out on the work-for-free rung of the non-profit/social movement ladder. It’s imbedded in the hierarchy of social movement.

For what seems like the majority of my adult life I dreamed of creating an organization.  One dedicated to women’s empowerment, to educating and inspiring and transforming lives of women so they could in turn transform their communities.  My contribution to the world.  That dream is how I connected with my former business partner. We gave it a name, The Odonata Project.  And for one brief moment, it almost came to life.  Sadly, it was set aside due to finances. {You can’t work for free, Terra}  Reality dictates that you have to pay the bills before you can change the world. It’s self preservation. So while the dream now has a name, it still sleeps.

Odonata, the order of the dragonfly, representing transformation

Every so often I stumble upon a woman’s organization that I was not previously familiar with doing the work I think The Odonata Project is destine to do.  I dig a little deeper into their website, connect with their mission and values and realize this one is a little different. It’s not The Odonata Project with another name. {My dream still has hope} I join their mailing list and send them a $10 contribution. Over the years, I have joined too many mailing lists to count and contributed hundreds of dollars to missions centered somewhere in women’s empowerment.  All of them doing the same thing, just a little differently.  All of them struggling. Scraping, begging, fundraising for the dollars for next year’s budget. Dreaming of what they could do if they really had the money.

Last week I read #FemFuture: Online Revolution.  As I read it, I fell a little more in love with Vanessa and Courtney (co-editors of Feministing.com) and the #FemFuture movement.   I am starting to get the idea that the Universe is gently coaxing me into the intersection of feminism and digital media.  While I want to blather on about the awesomesauce that is the #Femfuture report, feminism, digital media and my path, I’ll do it another day. Right now, I really need to highlight the the gem found on page 21: Debating the Non-Profit Model. And of course, they cited a recent Tedx Talk (everything brilliant is run through TedX these days). It’s an awesome talk, only 18 minutes long. Take a break and watch it!:

This resonates with me so deeply. It’s a really interesting piece to my puzzle (for which I am perpetually putting together). Before I left LBG, I was hell bent on making it a social enterprise. I was obsessed with the business models of Toms Shoes and Sevenly. I didn’t (and don’t) believe that business should only be there to make a profit (or simply pay back investors). There has to be a bigger picture.  {I’m a very bad capitalist, I know} We have a duty to give back to our community or to a cause that effects us in distinct, tangible ways. That belief is why I am so married to my NPO dream. It’s why LBG eventually (in hindsight) proved to be so very dissatisfying. Producing tees seemed trivial. To truly thrive, I need to make change. Before I stepped down,  I created a charitable program and forged relationships with three major women’s organizations to cross promote and fund-raise for their cause(s). It put a purpose behind just producing tees for me. (Unfortunately, The program wasn’t a priority for my business partner and since I left the program has not come to fruition).

My satisfaction requires the purpose.

In our culture, the idea that an NPO can make money or that a private corporation should {be required to} give  a certain amount away back is a little earth shattering. Dan Pallotta explained it perfectly in his talk (above) it’s the remnants of our puritan, Calvinist ways. I agree with Dan, we need to get the hell over it.  I am so grateful that I read every word in the #FemFuture Online Revolution white paper and found the tidbit on the NPO model and Dan Pallotta’s Ted Talk.   It has fired me up about my “non-profit” dream, or the evolution of whatever it may become again. Perhaps The Odonata Project  is the name for #FemFuture’s proposition of a strategic plan for the coalition of the feminist movement.

Planning, conspiring, mind-mapping, jamming on ideas to make something great these are the things that make me drunk with satisfaction.

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