What does it take to be a Changemaker?

Every month Designed Good names a new set of Chagemakers, people whose work is making a positive impact on the world. What does it take to be a Changemaker? We are always looking out for young social entrepreneurs – often just a few years out of college – who are working for social or environmental causes. Some have started their own businesses, others are making a splash in established organizations. For some, their social entrepreneurship is a side project for now, while others have taken time out of their careers or education to take a risk on their exciting ideas. They come from all over the world, have different passions and varying approaches but there is one thing they all share: they are all tremendously focused and ambitious individuals. When presented with conflict, their response is to act and to find a solution.

Marty Schnure and Ross Donihue

Jeet Banerjee, another young social entrepreneur, recently gave a TED Talk in which he explores the mind set of people in their 20s. He covers how people under 25 often say that they are too young, or that they don’t have enough money to think about anything besides work. Those over 25 usually say that they are settled on a track and have less time. As you hear in the TED talk, it’s not possible that 25 is some magic number! And Jeet is hardly alone in his findings. The truth is that any age is a good time to get started on your good idea or to start something that will help the world. If it’s something you feel that strongly about, you’ll find a way to make it work, just as all of our Changemakers have done.  One of our younger Changemakers is still a college student: Henry Bergman, a junior at Williams College, is the co-President of Men for Consent, a group that aims to raises awareness about and prevent sexual assault both on and off campus.

The other factor that Changemakers have in common is that they don’t just do good, but they do good well. They do their homework and find out what would be most helpful instead of offering approaches which, while good-intentioned, are actually not solving any long term problem.  Take Austin-based Tim Scott: while volunteering along the streets of Austin, he discovered that after food and water, the most requested item among the homeless was socks. So, he went about starting Mitscoots Socks, another one for one company that doesn’t just give but also actively focuses on getting people employed.

Anthony Rouzier

There are many different paths you can take. We’ve featured artists using their skills to save the environment and we’ve seen web designers doing their part for the arts. What’s your passion? Here’s just a sampling of ideas and methods from our past Changemakers:

Education – If education is an area that you feel strongly about, there are many ways you can make a difference beyond petitioning school boards and protests (though those are places to start). Catherine Bellinger is an organizer for Students for Education Reform, a student-led movement that champions education equality for all kids in the U.S.. Obiageli ‘Obi’ Ukadike is Co-Founder and Director of Program & Development for The WaWa Project, which supports education for disabled children in Ghana and West Africa; Kleaver Cruz takes a more artistic approach to education equality as Dream Director of The Future Project.

Environment – The environment is an issue that seems to get a lot of attention, yet there is still so much to be done. Miles Cretin co-founded VeritCulture, an urban aquaponics project based on Miles’ agricultural expertise. In a different and unique approach to environmental issues, Marty Schnure and Ross Donihue started Maps for Good, an online site where they combine their love of cartography and nature and highlight global projects doing good for the world.

Hunger Crisis – Hunger is a cause that gets a lot of attention around holiday season, but it’s something that we as a culture should be doing more about year-round. Fortunately, Changemaker Peter Walters is taking action. He is Director of Marketing & Partnerships at Two Degrees Food, the first one-for-one food company. So, for every Two Degrees Food granola bar you buy, the company will donate a locally-sourced meal to a hungry child. Food Shift founder Dana Frasz is taking a different route, trying to change the way to think about food consumption and raising awareness about food waste.

Arts – The arts is an area that is in desperate need of aid. Rachael Kay Albers calls herself an artist, activist and awsomepreneur. She runs her own web design business that supports social arts projects around the world. PlaceBase Productions, founded by Ashley Hanson and Andrew Gaylord, works with local communities who commission the group to create works of theater that intertwine community, local history, natural environment and potential futures. By doing this, the partners are uniting communities and encouraging involvement in its development.

TechnologyErica Schlaikjer recognized role technology will play in future social entrepreneurship which led her to start Benevolent Media, a media and events company dedicated to celebrating story telling and design for good. Great Believer is another company harnessing technology for social good. Josh Riman realized the corporate world was not for him so he quit and started his own social good branding agency based in Brooklyn.

So whatever your passion, you can use it to do something for the world! Make it fun, make it good and make it yours.

Designed Good

Read about more of our amazing Changemakers and their incredible projects here! And If you like what you read, stay in touch with Designed Good by signing up here for a weekly email filled with our latest content and products!

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