On Tuesday, Marketplace aired its annual piece on the year’s philanthropy buzzwords, declaring that 2009 was “the year where necessity was the mother of social innovation.” Listening to terms like “impact investing” and “B corps” was inspiring: making a serious business out of doing good is a trend! But I also felt a disconnect – sounds more like something for Seattle than North Texas, for technology start-ups rather than artists.
Then again, maybe not. And maybe those lines between non-profit and commercial, art and commerce, high tech and low, are just well-worn yet meaningless grooves in our minds. Thursday night, I went to Spark Club, a new “network of leaders, artists, thinkers and social entrepreneurs gathering in creative, highly conscious networking events to meet, greet, share and ultimately spark ideas for good.” This could have been hand-holding and singing “Kumbaya.” It could have been endless nattering about “the way things should be.” But it wasn’t.
The group’s second meeting was at CoHabitat, a cozy house in Uptown that has been transformed into rentable work spaces. The evening was “sold out” (free, but reservations required) and full of folks who are conceiving and executing ideas to make a difference. It’s not exactly an arts event, but I was struck by how many creative types attended, and the way art intersected with so many of the projects and ideas discussed.
There were three short presentations: Photographer Tyler Sharp briefly showed work shot in Pakistan. But he was really there to talk about My-stroke.com, a networking and recovery resource for stroke victims. Julie McCullough Kim is the gal behind Make Shop & Studio. Her talk focused on the PIN Show and how she is trying to encourage “slow fashion,” quality, affordable clothing produced locally by independent designers. Finally, Salah Boukadoum, owner of Soap Hope, shared his business model, “Good Returns.” All of Soap Hope’s profits are leveraged for one year, funneled to three groups that make micro-loans to poor women.
There were also door prizes, snacks and wine, and lots of opportunities to meet folks, including a “speed networking” station – works pretty much like speed dating – offering two minutes to share your project and listen to the story of another’s, exchange cards and move on. The group plans to experiment with other meeting themes and presentation formats, including PechaKucha
If you have a project that could benefit from the attention of a group of creative, fun and serious thinkers, check out next month’s Spark Club.