Be More, Give More
Throughout my life, I have served social and economic justice through my career and volunteer work, currently with InStove.org, a social venture working at the intersection of food and energy security, public health, and environmental impact by producing and distributing the most efficient natural draft biomass stove in the world.
Earlier this year, a mentor of mine and close friend, Lou Radja, told me about an event where global individuals with a passion like mine for environmental and social justice gather. The event is called “Opportunity Collaboration.” As a professional coach (with louradja.com), Lou does not give advice lightly, and when he said, “Miel, you have to be there,” I started pulling the strings to make it happen.
The opportunity collaborate community includes many philanthropists, volunteers, social entrepreneurs, and impact investors…but where the “usual suspects” in international development are concerned, there’s no one from the major DC nonprofits, USAID or UN agencies. This event is more purposeful about what its members want to achieve and how to achieve it. Too often in Beltway DC culture, “What can we give?” seems to rank lower than “What can we get?” (i.e. grants, proposals, projects, tenders).
Community of like-minded people
I’ve been manifesting a community of like-minded people, and it is part of what took me back to my Oregon roots and away from DC, despite a stellar career trajectory and a six-figure salary. Opportunity Collaboration is what I love most about Oregon, but writ large and international: generosity, a passion for environmental and social justice, and a spirit of giving back. It is also why I am a lifelong Rotarian, and no surprise that there are a number of Rotarians among the delegates.
If it is possible to achieve sustainable and lasting solutions to problems where markets, governments, and decades of self-serving foreign policy have failed, then this, or through communities like it, is how it starts.
What I contribute to the community is an authentic voice of experience, having lived with, worked with, and developed solutions in partnership with the people in these communities with the problems that we are trying to solve.
After months of considering the opportunity and really wanting to make it happen, I finally took the plunge and signed up and booked my flight. I was psyched. Then it occurs to me that I’ve been waitlisted and I’ve already bought my non-refundable ticket.
I take a moment before panic considers to ensue. I consider my options of couch surfing and crashing. The possibility of spending a week on the beach occurs to me (I’ve got a non-refundable ticket to Mexico, after all).
Instead I decide to act as if, and continue to reach out and connect with others going to Opportunity Collaborate. I assume I’m going and it will all work out. As it did. Luckily I was taken off the waitlist pretty shortly (perhaps my humble begging helped). I knew I was meant to be there (even as I make use of my time to blog after my flight has been delayed for hours in Salt Lake City).
Cancun, here I come!