Dan Blumberg is the managing editor of Citiology, a soon-to-launch social network for NYC foodies and night owls. He is passionate about food and eager to work with social entrepreneurs who are tackling world hunger. Dan also likes to startle his friends and family while they brush their teeth by showing up on their radios as a fill-in host of Morning Edition on WNYC.
A happy audience | Photo Credit: Michael E. Lee
Acumen’s *spark benefit made me happy.
I’m an Acumen Fund newbie. I’ve read a lot about Acumen’s theory of patient capital and its inspiring Base of Pyramid projects. I dig the approach and felt I had a pretty good handle on what Acumen is up to. But there’s just so much you can learn about an organization from its website, social network, and Twitter feed. I wanted to meet the folks behind Acumen, especially the passionate community that supports them. What an impressive bunch! Everyone I met is working on one interesting project or another. From new ways to connect with charities, to a website that helps treat mental health problems online, to folks from TED, Google, and other startups…. And those were just the folks in crowd! I can’t wait to partner with my new friends to support Acumen and support each other in our own social endeavors.
That’s the short version of why *spark made me happy. Here are several more reasons:
Gretchen Rubin | Photo Credit: Jamie Billet
– Happy it’s OK to be happy. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, is on a mission to tell the world that it’s OK to be happy. In fact, it’s good to be happy, because happy people tend to do good. Gretchen says studies show people are happy when they make other people happy. That’s not so surprising, but what is is that it also works in reverse: the happier you are, the more likely you are to want to make others happy.
Jawad Aslam | Photo Credit: Michael E. Lee
- Happy I’m supporting entrepreneurs like Acumen Fund Fellow Jawad Aslam. He quietly described how his faith and sense of purpose caused him to leave the States so he could help Pakistanis escape poverty. He’s building a clean, safe development in Lahore and plans to keep it that way by focusing not just on the buildings, sewers, and streets, but on the people. They must take ultimate responsibility or else Jawad’s development won’t have lasting impact. Jawad’s dedication is so impressive. He’s no ordinary developer. He’s also a community organizer, conflict negotiator, and visionary. 90% of Pakistan is poor enough to qualify for his housing and he aims to reach as many of them as possible. The biggest opportunities are where the problems are the greatest, he told us.
Sarah Kay | Photo Credit: Michael E. Lee
- Happy I could be in the presence of Sarah Kay. Everyone I spoke to agreed the biggest “spark” of the night was when Sarah took the stage. The 21-year old poet lit up the room with her self-confidence and poise (she’s got more of both than most of us will ever have). Sarah described how she found herself when she started telling stories on stage at the Bowery Poetry Club when she was 14. Since then she’s become a YouTube sensation and founded Project V.O.I.C.E., which encourages teenagers to tell their stories through spoken word poetry. Sarah insists that “telling stories is a human instinct” and wants other teenagers to feel the empowerment she felt when she started telling stories on stage. She’s founded Project V.O.I.C.E. to give them that chance. All this before she’s even graduating college (which she’ll do later this month). She was a tough act to follow, even for Chris Hughes, who apologized for being an “just an Internet dork” when he took the stage next.
Chris Hughes | Photo Credit: Jamie Billet
- Happy Chris Hughes is on a new mission. The co-founder of Facebook and wunderkind behind Barack Obama’s online campaign now aims to help us develop deep relationships with charities that match our interests. His new venture is called Jumo and while details are a little vague right now, Chris said his goal is help us make better sense of the information overload that Facebook, Twitter, and other networks represent. Chris is convinced that people want to be engaged, but they are overwhelmed. That’s why he aims to connect us with relevant information to help us build lasting relationships to charitable causes (he didn’t share too much on how Jumo will do this. I’m eager for Jumo to launch, so I can find out). Ultimately, the goal is to tap the vast untapped potential between our intention to do good and ACTUALLY DOING IT.
- Happy this is just the beginning of my involvement with Acumen. Excited for what comes next…
New York for Acumen’s spring benefit, *Spark! Igniting Change in an Interconnected World on May 3rd, raised over $26,000 for Acumen Fund! Join Acumen Fund’s online community to join others all around the world who are working together to change the way the world is addressing poverty.