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Making innovation work for good. T:@inspirechilli

Sunday 29 January 2012

A week in advantaged thinking

The week began in grey, a Metropolis of monday commuters shuffling like Hammer Horror zombies. Humanity connected only through the touch of oyster cards and the shared smell of recession biting the air.  
Then, energy changes everything. 
On Monday, Look Up to Yourself, showing how a single smile can spark someone else into being; that the smallest of gestures break through the ice between us with a talent for life.
 On Tuesday, a breakfast of funders and thinkers, looking beyond the surface of disadvantage to explore the potential to invest in a real stake in society for young people – not just a bed for a night or a job for a day, or another two hours at Job Centre Minus.
On Wednesday, Foyers discussing an alternative learning offer for young people, followed by entrepreneurs (Visionpath and Mysi) offering a different way to experience education.  Can Foyers develop an innovative space to open talent, with their own unique advantages to fuel the confidence of young people?  Can this identity be recognised beyond being the poor partner of mainstream education?  Will our age-based policy ever grow up to take responsibility not to act like Logan’s Run, discriminating against anyone who isn’t connected by 19 or 21?  (which reminds me of the work of the wonderful Forum for Youth Investment)  In such questions lie the small seeds of revolution.
On Thursday daytime, our Open Talent pilot Foyers, reflecting back on learning from a year of discoveries.  If we really want places, people and opportunities to inspire young people, then there are simple investments we can make to achieve these – if we are prepared to recognise and change the paradigm of current working. This, perhaps, is the central message.   I am struck by the potential for both young people and the staff working with them to learn more from the world of enterprise on how to identify and take the risks required to succeed, and how to do so by disrupting the limits we are living and working within.

On Thursday evening, the week’s main event at the Ministry of Entrepreneurship, sharing stories to ‘defeat the poverty mindset’ through ‘the rise of the creative, conscious class’: GoodPeople, Darren Robson, Bitch, and the amazing Sir John Whitmore.  The impact from such a room – the buzz, the ideas, the passion - makes me feel that there is another service to a Gym that we need: a sort of Posi-cafĂ©, where you walk into a space for 30 minutes of personalised energy focused on the positive and the possible within you,  after which, reconnected with your real self, you go and get on and create the rest of your day.  I’m looking for a building if anyone has one…
Friday finishes with a few last flourishes from the excellent Keyfund and Venture Trust, until I’m left with a series of connections, of people in separate organisations and networks, whom, if we all connected, could completely change the conversation we are currently in - and reshape how we see the world for those young people our society prefers to 'disadvantage' rather than 'advantage'.  
Where is the oyster card to 'touch in' to that dream? 
Even in the cacophony of Monday mobile phone calls to mysterious others, there are individuals evolving beyond brands and sectors to do good differently together.  The positive deviants within.  Become one...

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