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Nine reasons why we are wrong about social change: Georgi Kamov at TEDxAUBG

Nine reasons why we are wrong about social change: Georgi Kamov at TEDxAUBG



I don't know about you guys but 2013 was a crazy year for me about 1 year ago I was writing a text called destination number 1 and the text was about answering a really provocative question what can Bulgaria be the best in the world that compared to all our gloomy situation were we in I wanted to answer this question in the most concrete manner possible and I actually find out that what we can be the best in the world that is social innovation our ability to find new solutions to social problems and boy the timing was was perfect or at least I thought it was because a couple of months later I published the text online for free on the day of the last elections in Bulgaria and shortly after that we had protests mainly Sophie but as well all over the country I brought my son to the protests and later on later in the year my daughter was born and I actually didn't bring it to the protest they sort of subsided were interactive anymore but they raged on in so many different places around the world we had protests in Turkey in Egypt in Thailand in Venezuela and this is key if like just one month ago it's like it's it's hard to believe that this is in the middle of Europe 2014 it's it's really a battlefield so without a doubt social change is back on the Global Agenda but not exactly in the way that I meant while writing the text because in the text I was writing about social innovation and what we see from all these events is that nobody is actually talking about innovation everybody is talking about revolution and I see a problem in that I think that social change has an image problem because most people associated with Guy Fawkes masks and mass protests and during the times of Guy Fawkes probably the only way to really change the society not as a whole but a large part of society was through conflict and war but I think we have better ways to do it now and as a scholar put it very nicely the point isn't just to challenge power its to change it but before we do that we really need to do something important in advance we need to start changing our minds about social change we need to leave preconceived notions aside and we need to really think what social change is about in how we perceive it and so I decided to prepare for you today nine ways we get social change wrong the first one social change is about bringing down governments and corporations right it's about changing the system throwing everything everything old out and just challenging them and making sure that they don't don't do evil things anymore and I think there is a better way to approach that I think social change is about doing a better job than governments and companies not simply going against them and I think it's a much more constructive way of changing the world this is Caroline she was born in a family of three kids with multiple disabilities and their parents had difficulties going and doing one of the basic things they do several times a week going shopping so they decided to create with the help of some other people a shopping cart for Caroline so they could go together with her shopping a government could have done it they might have started a program or a legislation to get the retailers to provide such shopping carts a company would have done it a retailer for example to provide one or two cards for four kids like this but this family didn't wait for someone to do that and didn't protest and sign petitions or whatever just to make sure that the government or the companies would do their job they just decided to do it themselves the second way we get social change wrong is that we think social change is about having a worthy and important cause which is which is true you need to start with the worthy and important cause to make a difference but that's clearly not enough not in our world I think social change should be more about making something that people desire something that they get excited about something that will make them feel special and the example what I want to give you is with Tesla if you have only a cause they know probably get out and say to people you need to buy an electric car you need to you must buy an electric car because the world is going down climate change is gonna destroy us all so you must go there buy an electric car and have your steak at making the world a better place what Tesla did and they realized that it's not enough just to make a good electric car and put it on the market they realize that they need to make the best car on the market compared to all other cars and there is a survey called consumer reports which is really popular Tesla was rated with the highest number of points in the entire history of consumer reports so compared to any other car that is there is right there on the market because they realized that you can seduce people into change you cannot just tell them and say you must do that you have to make sure that they desire that that they can say I want that number three social change is about an alternative way of doing things and I think we have a serious inferiority complex here because if you put it that way that means that everything else is normal and the way it should be and social change is sort of trying to put something new in the picture while in fact social change is upholding values and principles that have been valid form for millennia we just need to find new ways to implement them so I think social change is much more about the right way of doing things instead of an alternative way of doing things the most obvious example for me is the bio and organic food industry here you have a small aisle in a supermarket with a sign that says organic produce they even put five exclamation marks on this a4 paper and it sounds familiar really scary like beware this is organic produce you might get hurt or something might happen to you it sounds really threatening not not exactly inviting and it's a problem because we used to eat with our grandmothers and grandfathers such food and it's like the normal food we should eat it's it shouldn't be designated to a small corner in a supermarket and treated as something exotic we should treat it as the right food the food we are supposed to eat number four social is about social change being an activity for our spare time you know we do it's it's all is valid for people and for companies as well we do what we do every day and then we come back home and then we do some more everyday stuff and once in a week we decide to do something about you know making the world better or changing the world just for for the fun of it and I don't think that's that's right I think that social change is about having a state of mind for a lifetime not an activity for your spare time and the example I want to give you with with the survey by Walden University and the big question they asked was what kind of social change agent are you and one of the questions they had in the survey was how often do you do something that to engage in positive social change and you had like different answers like once a year to three times a year to three times a month more than once in a week but what is this like a fitness program or something are we placing social change you know together with all these activities no it's it's about having a state of mind it's not about doing something small once a week and showing off to the others that yeah I'm doing social change I'm so cool it's about deciding that you want to approach the world in such a way so that this your your state of mind number five seems quite obvious right social change is always about creating something new weed out with the old in with the new this is the thing that we want we should do and we want to do well I think that we should approach it in a different way that social change is much more about aim aiming to use what we have now first then just leaving it behind and doing something completely new and the example is for all of you coffee drinkers in the audience I'm not one of you but I can sort of relate to that you probably don't know that only 0.2 percent of the coffee you drink is used the rest of it is thrown away in the trash bin and there's a guy called Gunther Polly who decided that this is not quite right and because coffee is a natural other killer and a very good one he decided that we should put waste coffee and shoes so that they don't smell like hell after you know a hard work day or a hike in the mountains and this is an example of using what we already have to achieve something new and not saying you know this is something unusable and we cannot do anything with it the next one also might seem pretty obvious and it has it's sort of the mantra of the social change movement we should use social change as a tool of empowering people in communities and my problem with that is that it starts from a position of weakness so we have some people who are incapable of doing anything somewhere in the world and we should just go there and empower them so they can become more like us more powerful I believe that social change is much more about allowing people and communities to show their true power and the difference between the truth the two is that this starts from a position of strength because I believe people are powerful by design and it's their circumstances that depends on whether they'll show this power and use this power or the patient or wouldn't and the example one I want to give you with with banker boy who found barefoot colleges quite a cup quite a number of years ago these are colleges only for the poor in India so for the homeless for the illiterate for the really desperate people he wanted to make colleges specifically for them and he didn't go there and empower them he didn't give them the things they need it he opened up a possibility for them to do what they do best but just bring it to a new level so they started building schools illiterate people there are not professional architects but they started building schools it turned out that the women who were part of these small tribes and communities know a technique on how to make the roof so they so it doesn't leak so he treated people as having a very very important skills and crafts which they have passed from generation to generation so he started from a position of treating these people as people who are powerful he just set up the circumstances so that they can show their true power and later on he actually gave them tools to make their own solar appliances but they he didn't give just give solar appliances to these people he taught them how to make them themselves so it's another example of treating them as powerful and just helping them to level up number seven social change always starts with disruption always starts with something that signifies that we're done with the old system and we want to bring the new one well I think that social change actually should and it starts with understanding and here the example is from Ted actually this is the first TED talk I watched it's by the designer Philippe Starck and it still remains my favorite one it's absolutely hilarious if you haven't seen it just go to ted.com download it and or just watch it online it's absolutely amazing and one of the things he said in this talk is about that every generation thinks it's the last one and the best one that everybody that was before us didn't do well enough that we're the best we're the last one so we'll do whatever we want and he actually said that we have a different wall that people are sort of mutants and the way life goes on in generations goes on is sort of the human mutation which is the most beautiful thing and we have to be good mutants we have to do our part in bringing this whole thing together not destroying it but getting it through for the generations to come so he really advocates starting with understanding what other people need their motivations and their beliefs and not just aiming at erasing completely what's what we have now number eight is also kind of obvious social change is about helping disadvantaged people in communities right the bottom billion the homeless the conflict-ridden parts of the world it's about helping those people and I think we're missing a huge part of that because social change should be about advancing all kinds of people in communities not only the disadvantaged ones because then we're sort of designating social change for them and some of you might think well it doesn't concern me it's about people who live for example with less than a dollar a day it doesn't have anything to do with me and we should actually do social change with all kinds of people in communities from stockbrokers to to workers in Oh French homes and I want to show you this this is a RV pegaso it's a seventy three meter super yard and it has something to do with social change because what's so special about it that it has full fledged of the art science lab inside which can host up to 212 scientists and the trick is that you can rent this yard but only if you bring the scientist on board with you so it's kind of a nice experience right you use the yak to go places and the scientists use the art to to do science so it's kind of a win-win situation this is precisely the point we shouldn't outcast a certain part of our population just because they're wealthy or they have at their disposable or their o'deary disposal even multiple material things or financial instruments we should also find ways to include them as well so that we have win-win-win solutions and so that we can advance all kinds of communities number 9 the last one is probably the most obvious one of all so also changes is about changing the world right it's about doing things in a completely different way it's about leaving the old world behind and moving into a new one unless if you stop treating changing the world as an end in itself which i think is the mistake we're making we should start treating changing the world and social change as a means to something and for me it's a means to creating a better quality of life and have having actually a better quality of life in the fullest sense of the world not only material gains and possessions or more money but more human relationships more strong communities better education better urban environments a better natural environment so quality of life in its really the fullest sense of the term this is monocle magazine I don't know if you if you have read it if you know about it when you just glanced through it you see inside glossy ads of you know luxury brands and you really start to think that this is the perfect magazine for the financial elite for the globe-trotting people who spent a night in a delay then off to Boston and then to London and then to Hong Kong and then to Tokyo and then back to Adelaide but when you really look carefully inside you see that this is not a magazine actually about people who have it all but still want more you see stories about small entrepreneurs about family companies that have been practicing things and doing their things for tens of years maybe hundreds of years stories about people who are craftsmen and then you realise that molecule magazine is not a magazine for the rich it's a magazine about quality of life and if you treat social change is something separate from quality of life you wouldn't have guessed that these people in the magazine are doing social change but they in fact are but they're out of the standard definition of social change stopping at we're changing the world full stop if you treat it as an means to something as a means of having quality of life they are sure certainly doing social change in the beginning of my talk I said that we should start changing our mind about social change but there is something even more important than that and it is that social change itself is about changing our mind that it doesn't start with the square or people that are protesting there it doesn't start with the government it doesn't start with a big company that is doing evil things he starts with you it starts with your own understanding of the world around you how do you perceive things that are going on and I want to end with a quote from a recent interview with Jonathan Ive from Apple because he was at the end of the interview he was really hard to to leave the room and the interviewer the journalist wrote this is the final sentence of of the article he said that tomorrow doesn't wait for the man who defies it waits or wait a minute it's not the it's not the correct word that it was used actually the last sentence of the interview was tomorrow doesn't wait for the man who designs it and here is the big difference for me that social change I believe is really truly powerful when it creates opportunities but in the end of course it's up to you to decide which version of the quote are you going to use when you start doing your small part in social change the one that puts the blame on others or the one that puts you on center stage thank you

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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