The Feast: Activating Ideas, Creating Value Through Social Innovation
By Gregory Papajohn and Lee Ann Zondag for CSRwire
Let’s face it. A lot of people have come up with a lot of good ideas for society. And, that feels good. Some may see a paralysis of choice in the helping of ideas and say, “Hey, let’s choose one and devour it.”
Jerri Chou, founder of The Feast Social Innovation Conference, agrees. “We’re looking for action, not necessarily more ideas.”
We sat down with Jerri, recently named to Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business, one-month out from the first-ever global Social Innovation Week, hosted by The Feast, to understand what, exactly, she meant by that. Jerri started by pointing out two well-known routes toward social good:
- One-off: direct one person to do one thing like wearing a yellow wristband to support a cause.
- Crowdsourced: ask everyone with a dollar or a dream to give you an idea.
“Getting ideas out there is great. But the act of completing the idea is more powerful,” she explained. “The world needs more people understanding what they’re capable of achieving.” Jerri sees a middle ground between the one-off and crowdsourced directives to do/give one small thing, that is, encouraging the participation of many people to build something together.
“Take wikis. When you feel like you have agency you start to feel power, a power to see what you’re capable of completing,” notes Jerri.
Enter The Feast
Similar to the popular proverb, “actions speak louder than words,” The Feast challenges those who want to do good to move beyond talking and start doing. “We have to take action. We have to make a commitment to apply our individual skills and talents to achieve that better world,” states Jerri.
An impressive speaker lineup of doers and innovators will activate Feast attendees through challenges – in the fields of health, data, open design and poverty; tool kits – presented on topics from ideation to storytelling to help attendees approach opportunities from totally new perspectives; and over 50 intimate roundtables, allowing attendees to gather and respond to challenges. A few of this year’s speakers include:
- Neil Blumenthal, Co-founder and Co-CEO, Warby Parker
- Bre Pettis, CEO, Makerbot
- Beth Comstock, CMO, General Electric
- Jim Adams, Deputy Chief Technologist, NASA
- Gillian Ferrabee, Creative Director, Cirque du Soleil
The Feast is a medium for the people “in between,” for people “trying to make it happen” to build a brighter future from the bottom up. “It’s a time, a space, a format that you make your own. While creating ideas and models is part of the [platform’s] process, [The Feast is] about you personally finding and then creating value with others, not simply fitting into the [one-off or crowdsourced] template.”
On the last day of The Feast Conference (October 5th), the broader community will be invited to a Global Dinner Party where hub cities such as Singapore, Istanbul, Urtrect, Mexico City, Auckland and Philadelphia – alongside the hundreds of individually organized dinners – will host dinners to kickoff a new project – guests can choose to respond to a challenge issued by speakers or hash out a project of their own – to make the world a better place.
Shifting Eras: Finding & Creating Value
Jerri contextualizes this middle space by describing our era’s shift from a linear industrial life—where one gets an education, finds a job, assures her productive place in the world— to the newer service- and creator-based life – marked by “me finding value and creating value.” The new service- and creative-based life calls for people to make an active decision about what they want to do.
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Published: September 30, 2012 By: