Seeking Stories of Resourcefulness and Innovation

By Hanh Le, ASF

David Bornstein, New York Times journalist and author of How to Change the World, will speak at the ASF 2012 National Conference, October 7-9.

It amazes me how resourceful people can be. Whether it’s in that crafty McGyver, “I’ll jump start this car with a wad of chewing gum and a used tissue,” kind of way, or in the Sal Khan, I’m going to provide “free world-class education for anyone anywhere,” kind of way. Amazing.

I love hearing stories of and seeing first hand resourcefulness. Why? It makes an impression on me, and it inspires me to be more resourceful myself. It challenges my brain to take nothing for granted and to appreciate all that is at my disposal in approaching life and the many challenges and opportunities that come with it.

I seek out stories of resourcefulness by observing and talking to people, watching TV (I love TV), paying attention to what others are doing through social media, and good old fashioned reading…of books.

A few years ago, I came across the book, How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas. Talk about being amazed by the resourcefulness of people. From Florence Nightingale’s work to improve health of the British army and ultimately revolutionize the nursing profession and hospital management, to the quiet resourcefulness of J.B. Schramm’s work to increase college access for low-income high school grads, the book is full of awesome and inspiring stories of regular people accomplishing extraordinary things through heroic resourcefulness.

I was as equally fascinated by the stories in this book as I was by the author, David Bornstein, a writer who uses his knowledge and talents to write about social innovation, with the goal of sparking more social innovation. Talk about resourceful!

And now, David Bornstein is finding ways to tap into a major resource of these times, the internet, and social media to share stories of social innovation even more broadly. David co-authors the Fixes column in The New York Times Opinionator. This is how David and his Fixes co-author Tina Rosenberg started their 2010 inaugural post in that column:

Welcome to Fixes.

This is a series about solutions, or potential solutions, to real world problems. It focuses on the line between failure and success, drawing on the stories of people who have crossed it.

Most of us tend to be better informed about problems than solutions.  This presents two challenges: if we rarely hear about success when it occurs, it’s hard to believe that problems can, in fact, be solved.  Also, knowledge about how to solve problems ends up being concentrated in too few hands.  It needs to circulate more broadly so that it can be applied where needed.

I love getting my weekly fix of Fixes so that I can be informed and inspired by social innovators using their resourcefulness and entrepreneurship to address our most pressing problems.

There are so many exciting innovations happening across a variety of different disciplines — exposure to these can help us improve our ability to think in innovative ways. How do you get your “fix” of stories of resourcefulness and innovation to inspire your work?

David will share more stories about solutions as a plenary speaker at ASF’s upcoming 2012 National Conference in San Francisco. Using some of our own resourcefulness, ASF also asked David to participate in the conference’s Social Entrepreneurship learning lab and facilitate the salon conversation, “Social Innovation Through Journalism.”

Hanh LeASF’s Member Services Director Hanh Le joined ASF in March 2008 as an educational program director. Prior to ASF, Hanh directed training, grant, and technical assistance programs for KaBOOM! and the Community Technology Centers’ Network. Before moving to DC, Hanh served as a small business development volunteer for the Peace Corps in the Eastern Caribbean. A proud DC resident, Hanh is a member of the Cherry Blossom Giving Circle and seeks opportunities to engage in her Northeast DC neighborhood of Eckington.

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