enriching and beautifully emotive conversations at #NexusAus

Laura Lindsay and I were very fortunate to be invited to participate in the inaugural Nexus Australian Youth Summit, part of the series of international Nexus gatherings for young social entrepreneurs and venture philanthropists. Of course, Laura and I were “ring ins” to some extent; we were present to help stir some imagination around the old question of whether religious institutions should also be charities. However both Laura and I are very interested in the link between spirituality and social innovation and generative business/funding opportunities (and Laura is exploring the start of her own social enterprise) so it was a great space for us to inhabit for a few days to see what is transpiring.

We were pleased to be involved in some enriching and beautifully emotive conversations. For me, two conversations that were very significant continue to resonate with me. One was about how philanthropy can empower feminine perspectives and solutions to complex world issues, rather than those perspectives only gaining traction when reinterpreted through middle class masculine language. Another was about how the processes being used by some creative corporates to innovate, may have a legitimate place to generate extraordinary creativity in the community sector.

We also had a chance to think about how Nexus could grow and evolve in Australia in coming years. We thought we’d mention some ideas here with respect to keynote input for the conference. Of course we want to make it clear that these are not criticisms. I’ve never found it helpful to put my heart and soul into organising a major event, only to find a list of “you should have done it differently” demands straight after. No, these are just gentle thoughts that came to us as we talked appreciatively after the event. 

The keynote presenters this year came from a range of ethnic backgrounds. What’s next for furthering that diversity? Maybe….

1) What other sort of bright thinking is being done in the areas of that feminine perspective we mentioned above? Who else is really inspiring in this space? They may not necessarily be women (but we’d enjoy hearing from more) as both sexes have access to this dimension of thinking. And feminine perspectives can help us reinterpret who our rock stars are…

2) Who is thinking ground-breaking thoughts about how venture/strategic philanthropy and social investment can change the conversation in the areas of gender identity, different interpretations of “family” and different aspects of intra/inter-gender attraction?

3) Which people from indigenous communities around the world  are thinking with difference and inspiration about social investment and social business in their communities?

4) Who is bringing different thinking to bear about intergenerational learning in social investment/business and philanthropy? There were some references to age on the last day of the event, that were offered in jest and became a little over-exuberant. We were probably sensitised to this because – just a few days earlier – we had heard the Foundation for Young Australian’s Chris Varney deliver the WJ Craig Lecture: one of the most stunning orations that we had ever heard on the power of intergenerational actions for social good.  We believe there are powerful possibilities for Social Enterprise here.

Laura and I posted our debate text from Nexus on our blogs, Laura’s here and mine here.

We had a fantastically encouraging and transformative time. Thanks to the organisers for making it possible for us to be there!

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