Saturday, March 31, 2012

Entrepreneurship and the Social Entrepreneur

I could see the pain in his eyes. He had been telling me of his experience as a social entrepreneur in California during the past three years. He had arrived in the early part of the "Great Recession" and began to do his work. It was nothing like he expected.

"I don't think anyone ever listens to me." My Friend Jeff said as we stood in the hallway talking.

"I don't know what to do to get my message out." He continued.

He didn't expect to see tent cities in the middle of Sacramento, the state's capitol city. He never thought he would see highly educated people working to get the food they needed for their families by bartering. He knew that foreclosures were increasing there. That's why the lenders had hired him to go. But, that didn't prepare him for that which he saw.

I saw a man who was changed standing in front of me. As he spoke I could see something a kin to a reversible garment. I still saw the seemingly weather-proof side presented before me. Yet, while he talked I watched the zipper of his soul descend down to reveal the soft interior garment with all of its gentle, caressing goodness.

Jeff is a good man. He's been telling me of the hunger he witnessed now for quite some time. We talk quite often so I know that he has felt his experience much more than mere words. He's been out taking action so he can make a difference. Nobody asked him to. He just does it.

His doing is in its second year. He has taken his entire yard and has turned it into a little "farm." He grows all kinds of food there. If you are lucky enough to spend some time talking with him about his garden you'll see the passion in his eyes.

"I'm growing all kinds of peppers and lots of potatoes." He tells me excitedly.

He does it because he doesn't want anyone to go hungry. He grows more than he needs, right in the middle of the city, and then he goes out and shares the extra food with others who need it.

"Can you see what would happen if everyone would turn their yard into a little farm?" He teaches me. "We would be able to make sure every person living here would have more than enough food! I don't know why my message isn't getting out! I feel like a grain of sand on the beach!"

I listen to him intently. I know he's more than a grain of sand on the beach. He's making a huge difference. Just ask the bellies of those he feeds; you'd have to ask because those stomachs aren't groaning their pain any more.

Yes. Jeff's message is getting out and I hope you'll help pass it along. We all have the ability to make a difference in the lives of those around us. It just takes a little imagination and some dirt under the fingernails.

Lynn Butterfield represents Coldwell Banker with the Economic Development Corporation of Utah & MountainWest Capital Network, he mentors early stage companies with other professionals at the Wayne Brown Institute and is a member of th.e Utah Association of Realtors Legislative Committee. Find out more about entrepreneurs, and mentoring at the WBI at

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