Socially Conscious Geek Notes from SXSWi 2010

Sorry, these notes are a bit messy than usual. It was an interesting session format...


#sociallyconsciousgeek, #scgeek
Making Money While Doing Good
Lief Utne, @foglio zanby.com (platform for socially responsible collaboration)
Lauren Bacon “The Boss of You”
(sorry, because of the many participants, I could not get everyone’s names.)
  • What is a socially responsible geek?
  • Non-profit versus No profit
  • Transitioning from corp work
  • triple bottom line / alternate business models
  • 4 empty seats
    • Modified Samoan Fishbowl
  • Really a desire to learn about different types of business organization. A co-op as opposed to a partnership or a corporation. 
  • Annie Bruno: materials geek, have a consulting business that does deep research into materials impact
  • Philip Dja? Uja? : drupal shop
  • Web of Change conference...
  • Why aren’t you doing what you really care about?
  • It is a positive experience loving what you do
  • Many people come into it with a starving artist perspective... if i do what i want to do, i won’t be able to make money.
  • One thing that has helped me get over a fear of profit is having employees. when it was just my partner and i, it felt greedy to take profits. but when we had all these amazing employees, i realized i wanted to be able to hire them and keep them there, and provide for them.
  • Sarah, from Australian: curious how many people are from non-profits, looking to technology, how many people from geek world who want to be socially conscious. poll showed room was 90% geeks.
  • Max Whitney, NYU, central IT. essentially a non-profit. Recently tried to be recruited to a massive internet company. But her response was that it wasn’t very stable...only been there for 10 years. Her question... They need to hire people, can pay only a third of what a big internet company can pay, how can they get talented people to come do worthwhile things.
  • A: if you create a business you want it to be profitable. if you don’t make a profit, it goes away.
  • B, latino, worked for presidential campaign. 1 out of 4 babies born in the US is latino, yet when you come to SXSW, there are no latinos. want to leverage and engage technology. civil rights organizations are so far behind environmental organization when it comes to adopting the technology. how can we all work together to share best practices, how can we work together in solidarity, rather than in silos. could build real political power if all worked together. how can a community take the internal power they have, and work with other communities. 
  • C, agency in portland. Personally socially conscious, but have to come to work everyday and make ways to sell more cola to kids. Want to do socially conscious stuff, but in the non-profit world, either need 10 years experience grant writing, or would have to make the same salary she made coming out of school.
    • response: There are jobs available, you have to find them. Partly it is selling the whole lifecycle: normal work hours, being happy, etc. some non-profits can afford to hire agencies, some cannot do it at the regular rates.
    • resources: netsquared.org, puts on net tuesdays, for people to network.
  • college students are coming out of school with $100k to $300k in student loan debt. If you work at non-profits, after 10 years, you can get the loans forgiven. This can add up to $30k/year in a benefit to the employee.
  • one option is to do volunteer work. maybe you may still be at an agency to make money, but you could use skills to volunteer at organization. e.g. manage a non-profits social media.
  • VP marketing from patagonia there.
    • socially conscious marketing does work.
    • for profit company, but a company that does believe strongly in doing good.
    • they give 1% of revenue away (about $35m over many years) to non-profits, primary those that benefit the earth.
    • they try to be as sustainable as possible, but avoidable to pollute somewhat.
    • grassroots activists schooling: they teach people how to be activists, write grants, give presentations, etc.
  • Dawn, from Intuit. They are committed to social responsibility (will: they are?). They do fundraising for non-profits, give 32 hours paid volunteer time per year. Their question, how can they leverage their skills in technology to help non-profits. For people in non-profits, they have skills that they can bring to for-profits, to help them blend their for-profit and do-gooder sides.
  • (gap in notes because I went up to speak)
  • Suggestion of Four Hour Work Week book, because it can make you more effective and efficient so you can get your day job done in 20 hours a week, and spend more time launching things on the side, or volunteering.
  • Idea for Crowdsourcing Non-Profit ideas... have a site where people can propose ideas, and corporations can fund them.

Resources:

  • http://www.netsquared.org/
  • Four Hour Work Week http://bit.ly/bADd4A
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