Community Improvement & Organizing

The Guiding Lights Weekend Conference

If you want to get better at making things better – you are not alone. The 2011 Guiding Lights Weekend conference on citizenship is about making things better together.

Start: 03/25/2011 - 9 a.m.
End: 03/26/2011 - 5:30 p.m.

Weekend Conference on Civic Life Looks to Inspire

Need a little inspiration?

The Guiding Lights Weekend conference in Seattle, March 25 - 26, promises to rejuvenate your desire to make a difference.

The guest list includes some big names in social change:

  • Van Jones, co-founder of Green for All, President Obama’s former green jobs adviser and author of The Green-Collar Economy

Margaret Gordon is one of a growing number of Americans swapping the label “senior” for “social innovator” and opting out of retirement to pursue careers that serve the greater good. Her drive to protect the environment around her community of West Oakland, Calif., has earned Gordon the $100,000 Purpose Prize. Winning The Prize is living proof that innovation is not the sole province of the young.

Vote for Your Favorite Launch Pad Finalist

Voting starts today for the first-ever Launch Pad contest, which will award $5,000 to five individuals over age 45 who are solving community problems in creative ways. The winners also will receive resources and support from the Encore.org community to help their projects succeed.


25 Finalists Ages 45+ Bring Ideas, Experience, Passion for Improving Life in Their Communities

SAN FRANCISCO – January 25, 2011 – Voting opens today at Encore.org for the first-ever Launch Pad contest , which aims to help people over age 45 turn creative ideas for solving problems in their communities into working solutions.

Twenty-five finalists (see list below) were selected from more than 1,000 submissions nationwide. The public can now vote online for the five who will receive $5,000, plus resources and support from the larger Encore.org community. Winners will be announced in early March.

To help future generations understand the importance of a clean environment, Purpose Prize winner Margaret Gordon is enlisting the help of youth volunteers to survey pollution in West Oakland, Calif. Gordon, co-founder of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, is coordinating an effort to have the young people use special technology from Intel Labs to measure potentially hazardous particles in the air.

In Britain, people over 50 exist in a kind of identity void – expected to "move aside." Once they leave employment, they find it hard to get work. The British Equality and Human Rights Commission recently pointed out that life is often unfair for the over-55s, not least because they are often unwillingly unemployed. It doesn't have to be like this. In the United States, the $100,000 Purpose Prize is awarded annually to social entrepreneurs over 60. There are always hundreds of nominations.

Deciding what encore career to pursue may be a challenge, but help is available. Civic Ventures has launched the website Encore.org and has given grants to 40 colleges to develop encore career programs for boomers. That generation represents "a talent pool to meet unmet human needs," says Phyllis Segal, vice president of Civic Ventures. "They are a resource too good to waste for our society."

Children in West Oakland, Calif. – a city sandwiched between a port, several major highways and a rail yard – are hospitalized with asthma at a rate seven times higher than the average Californian. Purpose Prize winner Margaret Gordon and her nonprofit, the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, is teaming with Intel Labs to attack the problem by measuring air quality in West Oakland with a high-tech cell phone.

Empowering & Strengthening Ohio’s People, or ESOP, an Ohio nonprofit that helps prevent foreclosures, has been so effective because it knows how to communicate productively with both homeowners and lenders and is committed to finding solutions to easing the housing crisis. Founded by Purpose Prize winner Inez Killingsworth, the organization – through the people it has served – illustrates the power of empowerment.

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