April 1, 2009

GoodVision: Powering corporate social responsibility

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This post is condensed from an April 2008 dispatch from Israel on Socialmedia.biz.

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JD LasicaWe had a fascinating conversation over a lunch of yummy falafels at GoodVision, an Israeli consulting company that specializes in planning and managing corporate social responsibility processes in firms and governmental agencies. General manager Ivri Verbin took us through the site’s mission and mentioned these sites, which also support community efforts:

  • The Corporate Social Responsibility Newswire, a good U.S.-based resource for news about the space.
  • Global-demos.org, which describes itself as “a transnational civil society platform. It pools the globally dispersed and fragmented knowledge on the social and environmental performance of corporations. It empowers citizens, unites civil society and democratically embeds global business practices.”
  • Koldor.org, the first Jewish global platform of young leadership. established seven years ago by professionals around the world.

But the highlight came when six young people trooped into the room. Ariel Markhovski, Moran Haliba, Polina Garaev, Yael Rozanes and Gregory Karp were brought in to discuss perceptions of Israel around the world, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other high-minded issues. (Two of the young women wore their Army uniforms.) Their view of the prospects for peace ranged  from skepticism to hope. “I think when our own children grow up, then there will be a chance for peace,” said one.

Said another: “Today every kid who graduates can go and start a company at age 20. There’s a spirit that tells you you can do whatever you want.”

But they only really let their guard down — you could see their body language change — when I asked them about whether they and their peers were using social media tools like YouTube and MySpace.

Nearly all of them said they were using Facebook and YouTube because their friends do.

Deb Schultz asked: Why YouTube and not Israel-based Metacafe?

“What’s popular in the U.S. becomes popular here, because we have friends over there,” said one of the 20somethings.

Scoble has already posted a Qik video of our talk with the youths, taken with his cameraphone, here.


Bialik-Rogozin School

One of the week’s most touching visits came during a stop at the multicultural Bialik-Rogozin School  in Tel Aviv. The school enrolls 726 students, chiefly children of immigrants and migrant workers. The children, ages 5 to 16, hail from 29 countries, such as the Philippines, Nigeria and 33 who escaped killings in the Darfur area of Sudan.

“It’s the only place where the kids feel safe and are accepted regardless of their background,” an official told us.

The school has an extraordinary agreement with the immigration police not to raid the school for undocumented immigrants. They’ve worked with the Israeli government to get citizenship for 230 of the students so far.

“Hiding kids in a Jewish state is someting that is very loaded,” said Yossi Vardi, creator of the pioneering instant messaging program ICQ, who insists on not receiving recognition for his philanthropic contributions to the school. Dozens of volunteers and numerous organizations contribute as well.

Vardi pointed out aptly that education is not just about learning facts and imparting knowledge. “It’s also about what value system do you give to the kids. It’s about teaching young kids to be a mensch.”

We spent a few minutes chatting up the kids in Hebrew (um, I had a translator) and watching classroom instruction. Inspiring.

Robert Scoble has a great post about his experience at the Rogozin School here.JD Lasica, founder and former editor of Socialbrite, is co-founder of Cruiseable. Contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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