My Contribution to the Birthday Project

4 Dec

It is likely clear from my prior post about my favourite youth engagement ideas that I have been amazed by all of the online activity that has supported the launch of the IS Foundation. One of the IS Foundation partners, the Natural Resources Defense Council, explained recently in their blog post about the IS Foundation why the online activity supporting the foundation is so remarkable:

“It’s not often that you associate vampires (bloodthirsty night-dwellers) with environmental activists (solar-loving vegetarians) but friend of NRDC Ian Somerhalder is trying to bridge the gap by launching the IS Foundation.”

With this seemingly unlikely relationship between fandoms, environmentalists and Vampire Diaries enthusiast environmentalists taking place, I was impressed with the ingenuity and success of all of the work supporting the IS Foundation. I wanted to help, to contribute to the Birthday Project by making a “donation” to the Foundation before ian Somerhalder’s Birthday. With a family vacation looming around the corner and my “overseas” launch taking place on December 8th, I decided to make that donation a small guest blogging project that would hopefully attract a large network of nonprofits and volunteers to support the IS Foundation.

My guest post on Volunteer Match demonstrates how the IS Foundation is a model social innovation for the environment. Check it out below, and don’t forget to donate to the IS Foundation!

The Launch of the IS Foundation: A Model of Social Innovation

A remarkable model of social innovation has been taking over the Twitterverse and blogosphere and has motivated networks of environment-minded people to create meaningful change. That movement is the launch of the IS Foundation, founded by Ian Somerhalder (Lost, The Vampire Diaries).

What makes the launch of the IS Foundation so remarkable is the self-organizing of support networks that has been taking place online in order to address all of the complex components that are involved with protecting the environment. Below we look at the Foundation’s pre-launch activity using some of the core components of social innovation. This shows how the IS Foundation is a model for other nonprofits and volunteers to follow to achieve their goals for protecting the environment.

Read on to discover more about the IS Foundation and learn how to “team up to become a united spirit for change.”

Complexity – According to the Social Innovation Generation, one feature of social innovation is complexity, whereby “subtle rules of engagement, between and among elements, gives initiatives a life of their own.” This typically starts where a problem reaches a tipping point, motivating a leader to act. For Ian Somerhalder, this tipping point was the aftermath of the BP oil spill in his home state of Louisiana. His involvement in the cleanup and subsequent PSAs motivated environmentally conscious people, including his fan base, to act.

In his interview with Ian stated:  “Rather than be Generation Extinction, the youth of today could become Generation Green. Our mission strives to transform – with every willing person, organization and government body – our destructive relationship with our planet into one that is a true symbiotic relationship.”

Building Relationships – Ian’s influence secured support for the launch from powerful online communities of fans of his work on The Vampire Diaries – people who also happen to be passionate about the environment. One notable mention is the Ian Somerhalder Birthday Project and their Bash on the Bayou event on November 13th, 2010 in support of the St. Tammany Humane Society, along with the organizations supporting the Foundation (Conservation International, Natural Resource Defense Council, Go Green Mobile Power, the National Wildlife Federation, New Leash on Life, and the St. Tammany Humane Society).

Resilience – The book “Getting to Maybe” by Frances Westley, Brenda Zimmerman, and Michael Patton, describes resilience as “the capacity to experience massive change and yet still maintain the integrity of the original innovation.” Since the collaborative efforts of partners of the Foundation have involved the “self-organization” of “powerful strangers” working towards environmental change, the resilience of the Foundation looks promising.

According to Ian: “In order to solve the interconnected issues facing humanity, we must work in full collaboration with other organizations and government bodies to create and provide tangible solutions that will empower people to protect their health and the environment. Any organization, business or person committed to creating positive change is invited to reach out and partner with us.”

How You Can Get Involved: If you are working towards improving the environment, your vision for change can be accomplished by collaborating with others who share your vision. To find out more about how you can join the IS Foundation in this collaborative innovation, visit the official Facebook page.


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