November 28, 2012

How to become part of the Revalue Economy

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Isn’t it time for you to become a revalueist?

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, businesses, educators, journalists, general public.

JD LasicaThe CEO of Goodwill Industries of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin Counties — one of Socialbrite’s nonprofit clients — was recently invited to give a talk at TEDx San Joaquin. So three members of the Socialbrite team, Carla, Shannon and myself, met with the SF Goodwill communications team and hammered out the rough outlines of the 15-minute talk that Debbie Alvarez-Rodriguez fleshed out and delivered beautifully.

TEDx San Joaquin just posted Debbie’s talk, so I embedded it above to showcase what I thought was a stirring idea: The choice before us to live in a disposal economy or what Debbie terms “the revalue economy.”

“We have to fundamentally reimagine our connection to the poor — that word that no one wants to talk about today — to nature, to community and to profit,” she said during her talk to a capacity crowd in Stockton. “We have to start grafting the social principles of fairness and justice into the very fabric of business and profit. … A Revalue Economy is a way of changing the world.”

She pointed to Salesforce, Kiva and Pacific Coast Bank as examples of organizations with a social conscience, and (per the culture of TEDx talks) mentioned Goodwill in passing, given that the social enterprise has played a pivotal role in the Bay Area community for generations.

‘Innovation happens at the seam’

Over the years, she says, she’s become convinced that “innovation doesn’t happen at the edges. Innovation happens at the seam, when two unlikely forces come together and create a new opportunity, a new possibility.”

Sometimes those forces arrive in unexpected places — between employers and people living in poverty or the incarcerated, between consumers and discarded objects.

In the United States,
1 million electronic devices are discarded every day, and only 19 percent of those devices get recycled

In the United States, 1 million electronic devices are discarded every day, she said, and only 19 percent of those devices get recycled. At the same time, we have 2.3 million people living in prisons and jails and 5.1 million on parole. Fully 1 in 48 working-age men are in prison.

Do we give up on them? “Do we really want to decide as a society that some people are as disposable as this cell phone?” she says. “I see opportunity and value, and we have to harvest the opportunity of those things that scare us the most. Don’t be afraid to act big, to think big.

“Instead of living in a disposal economy, what if we just began to leverage the value of the people all around us?” she asks. “There is a new value proposition we need to embrace. We need to recruit from the welfare lines, from the prisons, from the street corners.”

She ends with a call asking people to take the pledge to become a “revalueist,” to be intentional about the waste we create, and to embrace the idea of taking a second look at how to leverage and value the resources and people right in front of us. It’s a memorable, and important, call to action.

Watch the video of Debbie at TEDx. I loved it.

What do you think? Are you a revalueist?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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