Back and reporting after an exhausting final plenary session here at Skoll.
First to wrap up yesterday’s proceedings. I attended one of the ‘consultancy clinics‘: with a panel made up of Liam Black, Alex Nicholls (Skoll Centre, leading researcher), Jim Fruchterman (Benetech) and Kevin Jones (GoodCap), I had high hopes. But the session never really took off: whether this was due to the ‘pitching’ projects (when a pitch ends after 5 minutes, and the panel ask what you do, it’s never a good sign…) or the format, I’m not really sure, but the fireworks never really happened. With the possible exception of the final project, the Big Give, whose business model (or lack of therein) got a bit of a savaging, before the panellists got a bit more constructive in their critique.
In the evening, the Skoll Awards were given out. Jimmy Carter was, by all accounts, very inspirational and the award-winners are a pretty amazing bunch of people, doing pretty extraordinary things. I must confess that I watched it this morning on video as well, having chosen instead to spend the afternoon with noted UK troublemakers (Black, Wilson, Kershaw) and others in a local hostelry. A good time had by all, as you can see from the photo below; an image I’ve found hard to dislodge:
Later, I went to the Social Edge (where you can see lots of blog and video footage of the Forum) dinner: thanks to Jill and Victor for the invite, and I’m looking forward to working with them in connecting the UK bloggers and podcasters into their great space for discussion and connection. Met some great people (again) from great organisations, like Tal from MBAsWithoutBorders, Mike and Omar from Berkeley, and Matt Flannery of Kiva, who was notably humble and unassuming, not to mention interesting company.
After reuniting with a dissolute UK bunch in a local Chinese restaurant, I headed home…..
DAY 3: I have to go and catch the train back to London to get to the Ashoka awards event on time, so I will blog about this soon. Suffice to say that whereas by the end of Day 2 I was in full, cynical curmudgeon mode, I leave inspired. The storytelling session this morning was worth coming to the whole forum, with Walter Mosley and James Orbinski…in fact, the whole panel were simply outstanding, and I have countless pages of notes on the risks of heroisation (obviously discussed recently on this blog), the need for relevant role models, the balance between truth and propaganda, perspective and resolution, the risks of empowerment, the role of humour and much more besides. Probably the best session I have been to in five years of coming to this event.
After that, the final plenary was going to struggle, but Paul Farmer (Partners in Health) almost did. He was fabulous and finally, on the Skoll stage, communicated the need for social entrepreneurship to include the disadvantaged, excluded and poorest to "allow them to be social entrepreneurs" rather than viewing them as beneficiaries, problems to solve, or markets to exploit. Amen and hallelujah to him, his work and his words. And he was so good that Al Gore, who followed, left less of an impression: indeed, he was moved to say to Paul Farmer, "I am not worthy".
I would really recommend going to Social Edge (link above), and watching the videos of those two sessions; worth making time for.