Before I made the decision to finish my education, I was fortunate enough to experience the beginnings of a promising career in social innovation. It was an exciting time because I was working in a community transitioning between a decade long recession and a promise of economic recovery. This community, at the time, was being courted by several large-scale industrial projects with deep pockets. Though the social implications from these projects’ investments were mostly welcome, the challenge lay in figuring out how best to benefit from them, while mitigating as many negative social impacts as possible. The majority of my work involved leading projects that required me to be immersed in the world of social innovation.
Unfortunately, for all of the work I was doing on the ground, there were always significant obstacles being met at higher levels. I guess this is the plight of grassroots movements, but as frustrating as it was to experience, it also brought me to an understanding of the difficulties faced by today’s social innovators. In this understanding, the only way I could see myself becoming a more effective social innovator was to finish my degree and gain more access to higher level decision-making processes.