Cruise to the San Francisco Chronicle building in SF and you may discover something unexpected on the first floor. A Hub. Or, The Hub (SoMa) to be more specific.In exploring social innovation, a former colleague who is now deeply engaged in the field suggested checking out Hub SoMA. And no sooner did we sign in and enter the lobby–featuring trendy seating and a number of individuals hard at work on a late Thursday afternoon– did I begin to realize that this is no ordinary co-working space.

Take a look at the quick video showing a 360 degree view of the Hub SoMA to get the look & feel…and then read on to find out a few features that make the Hub unique and how it could be a useful tool for any entrepreneur exploring the social innovation space.


Funk and Soul


Alissa Walker wrote a great post on the Hub for Fast Company (“The Hub Bay Area: Where Change Agents Share Space and Ideas”) in which she overviews the Hub, its offerings, and sheds a little light on its history and design—including that it was designed with advice from the well-known design firm IDEO and under the direction of a local lead architect.

Visiting the Hub SoMA, I definitely picked up on vibes of funk and soul. Work tables on wheels, unique conference spaces, privacy booths for telephone calls (or very small meetings) and conference rooms complete with writable glass walls are all features that give it a funky, groovy feel. And the soul is the sheer diversity of individuals, organizations, causes, and ideas that flow through the airy space in any given moment.


Movement


Sans cubicles there is a lot of movement at the Hub. Literally. Walk around and you will see a CEO of one organization walking over to chat with a founder of a budding social venture. Or you may spot an blogger taking a break for tea and chatting with a developer stirring a latte. Wait until evening and you may see all of the desks and chairs shifted over to host a Hub workshop or networking event.  There is movement at the Hub—and that can be a welcome counterbalance to inertia that organizations and individuals may face when trying to think through a big idea.


en-Listing


Membership at the Hub requires committing to a monthly fee that enables you to use the space for a specific allotment of hours per month. The lowest increment is five hours per month for $25. Is it really worth it? One of the big adds in being a Hub member is being a member of the mailing list—and that may itself make the monthly fee worthwhile. Through the internal listserv you can post about your organization and receive updates on employment opportunities, upcoming events, volunteer activities, and social/health happenings.

Being a Hub member at SOMA also gives you access to Berkeley’s Hub (and vice versa).


Sexy Salad Wednesdays


A peek at Hub SoMA’s calendar  reveals a number of events—intended to inform, introduce, and entertain. Perhaps one of the most memorable events our host (and tour guide) for the afternoon mentioned was Sexy Salad Wednesdays. A time to bring the ingredients you have and share with others to create some healthy, delicious, and downright tempting fruit and veggie re-mixes.

The emphasis on social activity is a key feature of Hub membership. Just like communities aren’t based soley on work, the Hub organizers realize that social change is effectively fostered when it’s, well, social.

From a newly-minted Hub SOMA member, you are invited to take a tour, a peek, and perhaps partake in a sexy salad and consider joining a community of social innovators.


Launching Innov8Social has been marked by attending fascinating events, the opportunity to be part of compelling legislative efforts, and the chance to interview passionate people in the field.

And it may be time stretch our handshake a little further. Innov8Social would love to enlist your social media support for our efforts.  You can email here with any ideas, feedback, or observations you have on the blog, the concept, and topics discuss.

Q: How can you support Innov8Social? 
A: Here are 5 things you can do in 5 minutes +1
1. Become a fan of Innov8Social on Facebook here
2. Join the email listserv here
3. Become a member of the LinkedIn group here
4. Follow on Twitter here
5. Subscribe to the YouTube channel here
+1. We can’t overlook the latest online social sharing tool, so feel free to share posts of interest on Google+ Email here for an invite

 

An Idea Only As Compelling As the Community that Supports It 
An idea is only as compelling as the community that supports it~~ and part of Innov8Social’s mission is supporting the idea of social entrepreneurship by building a community of informed, passionate, active individuals.
Arigato ~ Mahalo ~ Merci ~ Shukran ~ Grazie
Thank you for your support. It means the world. I hope engaging with Innov8Social will be as meaningful for you as it already has been for me.

Now it’s the Judiciary Committee’s Turn

california state capitolAs you may recall, last week AB 361— the California bill that would create a new corporate form called a benefit corporation— was presented by sponsor Assemblymember Jared Huffman and witnesses (including certified B corporations, attorneys, and investors) at the California State Senate Committee on Banking and Financial Institutions. It marched forward from there with a resounding vote of 5-1.

The next stop was the Senate Judiciary Committee which heard arguments for AB 361 on July 5th 2011.

How did it go?

With many many more bills on the docket this time around, Senator Noreen Evans— Moderator for the Judiciary Committee– warned early on that argument and testimony for all bills would be kept brief.  When AB 361 was presented, Assemblymember Huffman once again introduced the legislation and outlined his three-prong argument for the bill.

Attorney Donald Simon testified to the legal structure and rationale behind AB 361, emphasizing the reaching effect it could have by creating a unique reason for entrepreneurs and founders to opt to incorporate in California instead of other states, in order to be able to be registered as a benefit corporation. He also provided counter-arguments to opposing concerns—emphasizing the complementary relationship that b corporations have already demonstrated to have with non-profit sector.

A number of certified B corporations and supporters (Innov8Social included!) also provided ‘me too’ testimony.

Opposition to AB 361 also voiced their concerns that California may not yet be ready for a new corporate form for socially responsible business and/or availability of other hybrid structures and potential opposition from California non-profit organizations.


How did the Judiciary Committee vote?

In a vote of 3-0 the bill was dubbed ‘on call’ — to be forwarded to Senate Committee members who were absent at the time of the vote.

By the following day, the final vote was in: 4-0 with one abstaining vote. AB 361 moves forward.

Is there video of the hearing?

Calchannel.com streams State Assembly and Committee hearing sessions online. You can find the Judiciary Committee testimony here: http://www.calchannel.com/channel/viewvideo/2810.

Keep a lookout around 1:30 for the beginning of AB 361 argument.


What’s next for AB 361?

Next is the Senate Appropriations Committee in August after the summer recess, followed by the Floor of the State Senate, then back to Assembly, and then to Governor Brown’s desk. That is the path that AB 361 will have to successfully follow to become California Law.

    How can social innovators and supporters understand the legislative process better? 

    Simple, get involved.
    That’s what Innov8Social did this past week when we joined a number of social enterprises, state legislators, and policy makers at the State Capitol in Sacramento to observe and testify in support of AB 361 in a Senate Committee hearing.  AB 361 is the California bill that would establish a new corporate form in California. Businesses that elect to incorporate in this new form (i.e. as benefit corporations) would do so with the purpose of creating a general public benefit with their business.
    What is a general public benefit?
    The legislation outlines a general public benefit as a “material positive impact on society and the environment“—taken as a whole and assessed under a 3rd party standard.

    AB 361 at CA Senate Committee on Banking and Financial Institutions

    The June 29, 2011 hearing for AB 361.AB 361’s sponsor, Assemblyman Jared Huffman delivered the first remarks to the California State Senate Committee on Banking and Financial Institutions, chaired by Juan Vargas.

    He outlined key points of the legislation, which was submitted by a number of his constituents.  A few key points he noted:

    • incorporating as a benefit corporation would be completely voluntary
    • benefit corporations would be required to show material positive impact
    • benefit corporations would be required to meet higher standards of accountability and transparency
    • benefit corporations would create a way for consumers to contribute to social impact through their patronage
    • the concept of stakeholders (including the environment, community) would expand on the fiduciary relationship that exists currently between corporations and shareholders to maximize profit.
    • a version of the benefit corporation bill has already been passed in 6 states
    Several witnesses then delivered testimony on the basis of their support of AB 361. These supporters included:
    • Ryan Williams of Method — a scientist at Method–a company that aims to do more than business as usual spoke about Method’s aim to improve the world we work in through supporting infrastructure changes such as AB 361.
    • Don Shaffer — an investor and President & CEO of RSF Social Finance attested to the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been invested in B corporations and underlined the interest of investors in funding social enterprises.
    • Donald Simon — an attorney and partner at Wendel Rosen Black & Dean and Co-Chair of the Legal Working Group & Founder of 2 environmental non-profit organizations pointed out the social entrepreneurial roots already tied to California and the need to update the arcane view of fiduciary duty in the state.
    • John Montgomery — an attorney and Co-Founder of Montgomery & Hansen and Co-Chair of the Legal Working Group behind the bill noted that AB 361 would make California a leader in social enterprise.
    • William Clark — attorney and partner in Drinker Giddle and Reath LLP who has been integral in formulating the model benefit corporation legislation that has been passed in 6 states.  He mentioned that he and B Lab (the organization co-sponsoring the bill) have been working on California’s legislation for the past 2 years.
    A number of other witnesses provided brief testimonial support for AB 361 including leaders from: svt group, green age 360, One World Futbol, inNative, Worklore, Innov8Social, and others.
    Was there opposition?

    There were speakers who voiced opposition to AB 361. This included members from the California Association of Non-profits who were concerned about the impact AB 361 could have on state non-profit organizations seeking funding, noting a potential competition for resources.Attorney Steven Hazen also voiced concerns about the impact of any modification to fiduciary duty standards and the impact on shareholders. He also noted his support of AB 201, a bill proposing the creation of a blended corporate form called a flexible purpose corporation.

    Did AB 361 pass?

    After about an hour of testimony and answering of questions from Committee members, AB 361 went to vote. It was passed by the Senate Committee on Banking and Financial Institutions 5 (in favor) – 1 (against) – 1 (abstained).

    It passed through the Committee.

    What’s next for AB 361?

    It is due in the California State Judiciary Committee next week where it will face a similar process of presentation, witness testimony, and questioning from Committee members.

    While in social innovation exploration mode, last month I reported back from an interesting conference on sustainable enterprise, in which we learned a few key buzzwords in the field.  One was the “Green MBA“—with special focus on triple bottom line accounting.

    Which makes me wonder, is there a parallel “social innovation” LL.M course of study?
    An LL.M is a postgraduate law degree (a Masters in Law) that is typically a one-year, full-time program. It is often pursued to specialize in an area of law. For example there are LL.M programs in taxation, environmental law, international law, and intellectual property.
    With legislative innovations such as the benefit corporation and B corporation gaining traction, it seems that it would be useful and helpful to have attorneys who specialize in this emerging field.  Four pioneering states have already passed benefit corporation legislation. In California, the benefit corporation bill (AB 361) passed a vote in the state assembly 58 to 17, and New York’s benefit corporation legislation (A4692-A/Silver) is heading to the governor’s desk…With the connection between social innovation and law becoming a little more foreseeable than Mrs. Helen Palsgraf and harm caused by an ill-fated newspaper-wrapped package, it is food for thought to consider what tools and methods law students and attorneys have to study this subject further.

    It would be great to hear feedback on any programs you know of, you can also find Innov8Social on Facebook and connect on this topic there.

     

    If you are exploring signs of responsible business, you will likely come across the terms “B corporation” and “benefit corporation”…and while they may sound like synonymous buzzwords in social innovation, they are actually distinct concepts.

    Here are 3 key differences to help keep them straight:

    1. B Corporation is a voluntary certification.  B corporation certification recognizes companies that are purpose-driven and which create benefit for the community, the environment, and employees–as well as for shareholders. B corporation status is conferred on companies that apply with a passing score on the B Rating System and that agree to take steps to legally expand the fiduciary duty beneficiaries beyond shareholders.  The certification is granted by an advisory committee from B Lab–a non-profit organization dedication to B Corporation certification.
    2. Benefit Corporation is a legal corporate structure.  You’ve likely heard of corporate structures such as a C corp or an S corp, similarly, benefit corporation is a new class of corporation that serves society and the environment, as well as shareholders. As of June 2011, four states have passed benefit corporation legislation (Maryland, Vermont, New Jersey, Virgina).
    3. Becoming a Certified B Corporation is one way to meet statutory requirements for Benefit Corporation status. This is true for states that have passed benefit corporation legislation.
    I had the serendipitous good fortune of being able to attend the U2 concert in Oakland yesterday after a good friend had an extra ticket. As only of the greatest bands can do, U2 made a lasting impression on upwards of 60,000 fans.

    I Am One
    ONE campaign wrist band from Oakland U2 show, June 2011

    Bono and U2 offer a unique view of how social innovation can work. We have heard of celebrities championing causes, but attend a U2 concert and you may find the theme of social awareness is weaved in to nearly every aspect of performance.

    The entire concert experience becomes a call to reflect, motivation to act, and a reason to believe.

    In fact, even before the concert began, while enthusiastic ticket-holding fans were waiting in line, volunteers for the advocacy group ONE—co-founded by Bono—were on the scene. With iPads blazing.

    With a few quick strokes and multitasking ease, they explained the “I Am One” campaign, added names to their petition, and handed out simple but dramatic wristbands. Bono even recognized the volunteers, the cause, and a few of ONE’s achievements during the concert.

    So, what is the ONE campaign? Here are a few facts to put it in perspective:

    • ONE is an advocate. The ONE campaign is a grassroots advocacy movement fighting extreme poverty, preventable disease, and pressuring political leaders on policy ranging from supporting democracy to providing education for children.
    • ONE is a global citizen, with a special interest in Africa. With efforts spanning the world, ONE been key in securing over $100 billion in debt relief for nations struggling with extreme poverty, which has enabled countries in Africa to fund education to put 42 million more children in school. The ONE Campaign also recently supported $450 million in debt relief for Haiti after the earthquake.
    • ONE has rockstar lineage. What is now the ONE campaign is actually an amalgam of an anti-poverty advocacy group founded by Bono in 2002 and a separate grassroots anti-poverty movement launched in 2004. The two groups joined forces under the umbrella of ONE in 2008. The Board of Directors includes Bono, Bobby Shriver (of the Shriver family),  Howard and Susie Buffett (son & daughter of master investor Warren), as well as rockstars from academia, government, the non-proft sector, and business.
    • ONE is not asking for your donation. As an organization primarily focused on advocacy, ONE is not a fundraising effort. They work with world leaders to change and develop policy and practice. (note: apparently you can buy some ONE swag. ONE is also allied with (RED) the business venture designed to raise money to combat AIDS in Africa)
    • ONE wants to make its collective voice louder. ONE wants your signature, as your endorsement for its work. It wants to rachet up its member base so it can leverage its worldwide base of support in negotiating change with law makers and political leaders.
    • ONE is living proof. A big part of being a problem solver is being an active listener. The ONE campaign has a site dedicated telling the stories of issues it is addressing around the world. Real lives, and ONE living proof.
    Interested in ONE? You can find more information and sign up on the ONE campaign website.
    What do you call it when you make big life changes to “find your destiny” or “realize your true potential” or to answer a whisper that has been long-marinating?

    If you’ve lived in the past quarter-century of Oprah Winfrey, you may simply refer to it as the Oprah Effect.

    I’m always amazed when I get a harsh or caustic reaction to the mention of Oprah’s name. I’m sure there are naysayers and skeptics–and reasons for their criticism– but I guess she has just been part of our household and my life for so long that for me there isn’t space to dismiss her reach, her passion, her success, and her motivation to inspire.
    For my mom, moving to the U.S. in her mid-twenties, Oprah was a friendly voice and willing tour guide to America and its sometimes-surprising ways. For my sister and I she has been an inspiration, and has set a high bar for what is possible, and what we can contribute, teach, and achieve.
    Watch her show and you will see profound examples of the Oprah Effect. Individuals who have creatively raised money for causes in need of support, who have used their own talents to serve, who have lived through excruciating circumstances with level grace and dignity, and who–in spite or because of–events in their lives have found a voice, a place, a purpose.
    I would like to think the Oprah Effect has held the hand of social innovation—or at least given it a place to grow.
    She is perhaps among the most known coincidental social innovator—using her acumen in enterprise, her expansive platform, and her team-building to raise awareness of social injustice, shed light on environmental issues, toast efforts (charitable and corporate) that are making a difference.
    And above all, she has constantly underscored the importance of dialogue–a tenet of lasting social innovation.
    We may never know Oprah’s celebrity–never be able to understand how profoundly it can impact the way decisions are made, how deals are brokered, the kind of compromises that are required, how empires are grown. But in seeing the rise and fall of those who have experienced it—I think her commitment to authenticity and service speaks lessons of a career well-pursued.
    So, to those who have been moved to be the best version of themselves by the Oprah Effect and those of us who strive to—Oprah, good luck in your future endeavors. And Godspeed.
    Intrigued? I definitely was when I read a recent blog post from the Stanford Social Innovation Review titled “Monk, Architect, Diplomat” by Mark Albion.Don’t hold your breath for a punchlineAnd it turns out the post didn’t just have a witty title to pull readers in, well, unwittingly (on that note I will admit that I do give a hearty mental ‘bravo’ to witting, insightful, or just plain well-put titles). The article was a well-reasoned piece on how social entrepreneurs can successful scale-up as their organizations grow. Rather than lack of finances, Albion argues that the underlying reason social entrepreneurs have difficulty scaling to a larger version of themselves is due to challenges in leadership.Albion focuses his leadership advice into three simple statements:

    1. Be a monk, not a father.

    2. Be an architect, not a captain.

    3. Be a diplomat, not a dictator.

    Through these metaphors he describes the successful expanding social entrepreneur as one who is socially engaged in her work, and mindful of her impact on others. For the greater goal of the mission and vision, she is willing and capable of distributing leadership and building a strong team. And she’ll spot the forest from the trees by not hesitating to be collaborative and compassionate.

    It’s a great read. And inspiring. Sometimes being in a hierarchical framework such as a corporation, non-profit, or social enterprise it may seem like you are on a ladder with the options being continuing up, falling back, or holding still. This article and metaphors of leadership, allow us to be makers of a delicate yet resilient web of work—far reaching, three dimensional, and progressing in more than one direction. I like it, and I like the possibility and scope of thinking of meaningful leadership in this way.

    If I had to add a #4 to Albion’s list, it would be:

    4. Be a sherpa, not a ranger.

    While I have not been in a position to scale-up a social enterprise as Albion describes, I have been part of the active leadership of social organizations that have changed hands. And I have seen first-hand the importance of sherpa-ness. While sherpas (Wikipedia) supply the necessary support and guidance on a demanding trek, it is not their hike. They serve as support for those who have chosen to undertake a challenging journey.

    In the same way, “alumni” or subsequent generations of an organization or cause don’t necessarily need to hide under a rock so as not to influence the path of successive leadership. But I think they can benefit from seeing themselves and their accumulated expertise as support. Perhaps the support that would have helped them when they were actively leading or the support to help traverse a particularly tricky pass. Most of all they should form the support that is asked for by the noveau leaders.

    While rangers no doubt save lives, prevent forest fires, and maintain pristine surroundings—in a social entrepreneurship venture ‘naysaying’ by organization alums may create confusion and uncertainty that can handicap a growing organization.

    Read on:

     

    I find myself thinking about how social media would have impacted the journey of historical figures in the past. Would Gandhiji have been able to explore nuances of ahimsa and satyagraha through reading comments to his latest posts by other thought leaders of the time…would blogging about his fasts and marches have hindered or helped their impact?

    globe gazeIn a world in which people are busy with their daily routines, whether it is tending the farm or keeping up with the Kardashians, would Mother Theresa’s tweets about the mundane and profound aspects of her day have shown her twitter followers that she is human like them and also underscored her choice to dedicate herself to a path so unlike many around her?What if Shakespeare practiced his compositions on youtube. Would he have been discovered as the Justin Bieber of his time? Or would his advanced use of iambic pentameter have seemed less striking amongst throes of other youtubing poets.It’s hard to say really. And then it’s not at all. Because as we connect through this post, there is a “Gandhi” starting a new one, a “Mother Theresa” tweeting from a smartphone, and a “Shakespeare” uploading some new rhymes. In fact somewhere in the web of social media is our future President and a future Olympic gold medal winner. It is a major way our world now communicates.

    This blog is about exploring and learning. It is a chance to examine topics—even if through the breezy tones of a blog format.

    So, 5 goals for this blog? Here they are:

    1. Write.  I have enjoyed writing for a long time, and this is a chance to do so in a free-form style and with assignments that are self-imposed. A chance to be creative, to be informative, funny where merited, and to write with an audience in mind.

    2. Explore. If you’ve ever blogged, you may relate to the sometimes-challenging task of identifying content. Having a blog will be a good way to encourage exploration of new content by reading interesting posts by other bloggers and scouring related news.

    3. Connect. If you believe the adage that “no person is an island” then connecting with others becomes key. Those interactions with others may be invaluable catalysts for our own understanding and growth.

    4. Innovate. Before I blogged I may not have associated innovation with the act of blogging. But truth is, it’s all about innovation. How you decide to structure a post, what you choose to include and leave out, and so many other unique aspects go into blogging. This is a great chance to be innovative, in content and style.

    5. Challenge. This is a chance to challenge my own perception of what I know and think I know about the fields of social entrepreneurship, photography, and writing.

    Thanks for taking the time to read & I hope that this blog may be of use to others exploring any/all of these interests.

    *Note: This post has been republished. The original version can be found here.