Andy Patrick is equal parts facilitator, techie, artist, and entrepreneur; in his latest venture, he is seeking to restructure the channels of change. In discussing the history of social change, Andy and I hit upon two questions: Who determines what change looks like? And what role does technology factor in?
Andy has founded ten organizations in both for-profit and nonprofit ventures. His experiences range from designing websites for artists and major corporations at liveBooks and Adjacency, to helping documentarians share their films worldwide, as the founder of FiftyCrows. He has always found ways to use technology and visual storytelling to facilitate unlikely connections between people. When he founded Streetwise, a magazine produced by and for the homeless community in Chicago, he was seeking to create a legitimate publication that readers would find appealing, while also developing serious writers and providing income – 75 cents of every dollar earned went to the people selling the magazine.
Andy views his latest venture, LikeMinded, as a means of localizing autonomy for social change. “People spend a third of their lives in community. They should get to determine the changes that will most impact them,” he says, adding “There are certain inventions in technology that are revolutionary, crowdfunding is in that category.” Creating crowdfunded campaigns on LikeMinded will enable people to publicize the changes they wish to see, while also breaking down barriers between nonprofits, government, and business to engender support for local initiatives. The platform will also provide a forum and training ground for people to share stories and create dialogue about community vitality.
“People spend a third of their lives in community. They should get to determine the changes that will most impact them,”
“The beauty of all this,” Andy says, is that “It will give a wide variety of people the opportunity to engage with projects in their communities.” With crowdfunding revenue growing exponentially, it is changing the way people invest. Andy’s hope and my question is: how can LikeMinded change the way people engage with their broader community- its assets and the people who make it vibrant.
Remember the good old days of recess? Getting bullied, withstanding pure chaos and melting on the concrete? Often thought of as a time of freedom and joy, recess far too often becomes the ground for reinforcing strife, exclusion, and instability. Oakland-based Playworks is rebuilding recess for maximum fun, nationwide, and teachers are noticing the difference.
Playworks, launched in 1996 by founder and Ceo, Jill Vialet, seeks to “Leverage the power of safe, fun, and healthy play at school every day.” Schools frequently lack the capacity to thoroughly supervise and manage recess time. Yet, if done correctly (with spirit and technique), students can return to their classrooms feeling included, motivated, and re-focused for the rest of their day. Capitalizing on this time, Playworks is teaching youth social emotional learning skills and leadership through organized games and reflection. A teacher at Grape Street Elementary school in Los Angeles says:
“The bullying has stopped. The students are all engaged in one of the many choices they have to pursue during recess. They resolve conflicts in class using rock-paper-scissors.”
Thus far, Playworks is in schoolyards in 23 cities, serving 185,000 students, another 275,000 through training services,and teachers have reported that they have recovered 20 hours in teaching time due to smoother transitions– trust me, as a former teacher and youth-worker, transitions are critical.
Playworks is teaching youth social emotional learning skills and leadership through organized games and reflection.
LikeMinded has partnered with Playworks because of its visible impact in local,underprivileged, communities, as well at its broader capacity for transforming schools and learning spaces nationwide. Not only does Playworks employ year-long coaches to lead games, it also trains youth and adults to be play leaders.
A decade ago, LikeMinded co-founder Lynn Luckow initiated a conversation about storytelling in the nonprofit and philanthropic worlds. Pointing to the role of civil society in generating counter-narratives, sociologist Robert Bella writes, “Civil society contrasts the public focus with the market’s material and private focus, and helps generate a public conversation and a richer quality of life.” Luckow was advancing the place of community vitality in a healthy democracy and calling for success stories to be gathered as a strategic resource.
Luckow was advancing the place of community vitality in a healthy democracy and calling for success stories to be gathered as a strategic resource.
At this time in history focus on the local community as a critical site of change was not fully acknowledged. However, emphasis on establishing vibrant, equitable, and sustainable communities has emerged alongside technologies of social media and crowdfunding. Neighbors are organizing community days, demanding interaction, and establishing a placemaking movement. Yet barriers still inhibit organizations and individuals from working together to realize shared community aspirations. With critical input from advisors and through interviews and focus groups, Luckow determined that community-based organizations needed a platform to share stories of success and a streamlined process of fundraising. Sharing stories creates a clearer narrative of what works and what’s happening, while inspiring action on a local level. The mission of LikeMinded is to fund projects for the common good, while facilitating the partnerships that will enable shared impact that reinforces human cohesiveness.
Through our crowdfunding platform, the pathway to funding quality projects is made accessible to everyday people (no more $500 a plate dry chicken dinners), and the much-needed 360º perspective of collective imagination is rendered visible. LikeMinded seeks to harness the power of crowdfunding, networks of support via social media, and people power to enhance local collaboration and retool American civic capacity across communities.
Notes from a conversation with LikeMinded cofounder, Lynn Luckow
by Abe Levine
Using crowdfunding in ways we’ve never dreamed of is the trajectory for Lynn Luckow’s LikeMinded. After 30 years experience in the nonprofit world and deep reflection on the critical question: “Have we made an impact?” Luckow is introducing LikeMinded to the world – and more specifically, to local communities. A platform dedicated to crowdfunding local projects happening on a national scale, LikeMinded will assist organizations in achieving reciprocal goals of raising money and uniting local residents for community prosperity.
When considering participation in our democracy, voting and volunteering come to mind. Yet, elections and good deeds may not fully engage the talents and assets of everyday people in action for social change. In order to feel empowered, people need to be informed of where they can put both their sweat equity and financial support, in ways that directly impact their immediate surroundings. By showcasing transformational projects happening in our backyards, the online stage is set for off-line action. Everybody becomes a potential philanthropist and agent in local change.
By showcasing transformational projects happening in our backyards, the online stage is set for off-line action.
The world of crowdfunding is expansive, with platforms enabling $8.5 billion to be transferred from donors to recipients in the U.S. in 2015. What positions LikeMinded as a leader in the world of digital crowdfunding is: First, its charge to focus on efforts that are hyper local, Second, its built-in design to initiate partnerships for the common good. In addition to raising the general public’s awareness of quality projects, LikeMinded vitalizes an organization’s push to expand their support network – across business, government, and all regions of of civil society. Facilitating these unanticipated partnerships strengthens a shared effort towards community resilience and interconnectedness.
While bolstering great projects LikeMinded proposes to unearth the social capital needed to build a people-powered movement that “un-silos” civil society. The goal is clear: revolutionize civic participation to catalyze collective impact. In this process, the ordinary person reconsiders her relationship in community. Through direct connections formed between trendsetting organizations and the people in their nexus, changemakers will be inspired to use the LikeMinded crowdfunding platform to reimagine the place they call home.