By Rob Spring
It's hard to talk about Groundswell. Like to just describe it to people. It's a novel concept, with an interesting mandate and filled with people with huge hearts. The idea behind it is very expansive and the programming is really diverse. I was first urged to sign up by some friends who's opinion I really trust. I was finishing an amazing practicum at UBC farm and on a wait list for a program at BCIT. Turns out I got my application into Paola on the last day they were accepting them! What good luck! Now after participating for a couple of months I've been challenged by what we've been learning in ways I couldn't have imagined and I've also been challenged by how to explain what I've been doing and what the heck it even is. I'm still figuring that out for myself.
My friends or family ask what I'm up to, and I admit I've had to oversimplify and really boil down my explanations to the bare essence of what this school/program/community is all about. Otherwise people just don't understand.
The conversation usually goes like this:
"Hey Rob what have you been up to? I heard you're in school? UBC, BCIT or something?"
"Well right now I'm doing this thing called Groundswell."
Sometimes they've heard of it, sometimes they haven't but they always ask "Whats that?"
I've got my elevator pitch down now. (Thanks for the monday morning practice guys!)
I find a smile involuntarily comes to my face and I say "It's good people school."
"huh?" or "what's that?"
"It's when you take really good people that want to do good things for others and they put them through a mini MBA plus a bunch of personal growth workshops and give them the tools to go out and start their awesome project."
Always people get really stoked. I've never been questioned about Groundswells validity, which can happen when you propose a novel concept to people. It's just so obvious that it needs to exist that when I explain it to people in these terms who have never even heard the of Social Innovation or who's ideas of contributing to a social impact cause is to buy something pink, they get it. Vancouver is a pretty progressive city but we can forget sometimes that we may live in our own social bubble. It's important to expand and test our ideas and opinions with people who don't share our worldview. (Something I'm relearning in a big way at Groundswell)
Of course we should be fostering and helping people to make a difference by giving them an education on how to do so. Groundswell is much more than this simple explanation to me now. As I understand myself and my learning more within Groundswell I'll be expanding my definitions of it too. So if you find yourself as I do trying to describe it and failing a little bit like I have. Try this one.
It's good people school.