Happy Soul Food Friday!

Thanks to those of you who periodically take a moment to send a ping back (email, phone call or in person) confirming these weekly Soul Food e-missive have value for you and your ecosystem.


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This week:

The unprecedented rate of change and humanity’s lack of an adequate sense of its own history are challenging the human spirit, but we are accepting the challenge.

First a video to put the rate of change in perspective, then a focus on a local bright light organization and its extended work, and finally a joke to lighten your spirit…

Did You Know:


Addressing Complex Global Issues Locally:

Even the most ardent evolutionary biologists had a devil of a time reconciling altruism in their survival of the fittest models.

In the same way the ascent in knowledge from Darwin’s evolution theories in 1859 àto Watson and Crick discovering DNA leading to genetics in 1953, àto EO Wilson’s understanding of the role of genetic inheritance and us not being just blank slates, with the advent of socio-biology in 1975,à to Richard Dawkins work on the Selfish Gene and memetics in 1976 (gene pools not species are trying to survive), à to recent advances in neuroscience and our understanding of how the human brain tackles complex problems around 2006 (counterfeit correlation masks complex problems) has each changed our understanding and theories of action, so too must we change the conversation on social justice, human rights, civility and the importance of social network.

One amazing organization that is doing just this in San Diego is La Maestra


With human trafficking from 15 different countries happening right here in San Diego, along with a host of other crazy challenges including poverty, violence, unemployment and underemployment, migrant issues, and more with more than 26 languages spoken in just the City Heights area of San Diego, and our public policy agenda just not keeping up, we are left with ludicrous systems with incomplete categories of political asylum, judicial opinions with political consequences that are under-privileging these victims due to antiquated notions, ethno-centric mind sets and vastly outdated models of human governance. Man’s inhumanity to man is hard to fathom…

My soul cried, my spirit was inspired, and I feel humbled by the important work I found this team doing for what I am choosing to reframe as an ’emerging population’ rather than underserved, displaced, migrant, forsaken, downtrodden, or any other label demeaning of their immense spirit and difficult challenge as victims of circumstance. Many of us won’t survive a week in their shoes.

This segment of our population are clearly outside the purview of our traditional societal norms and safety net -which should be basic and inalienable human rights for ALL in 2015 especially in a country like this.

Many right here in San Diego don’t even know they exist…


For all of us working collectively to move the needle on serving our global brothers and sisters in need, and striving to make this NOT “America’s Finest City” but “America’s Kindest Region”, there might be some applied practice here for you, whether helping at La Maestra or with a similar cause of your choosing.

The La Maestra “Circle of Love” model is a best practice validated in a 2011 Stanford Social Innovation article.

Their current framework actually has attributes and benefits beyond those included in the article, as I would categorize this initiative as a “place-based, whole person, wrap-around, cross-sector, preventative, networked, systemic, human-centered, collective impact model”

Each of these descriptors reflects a key insight into the nature of the work and its impact, along with the theory of action supporting it.

Complex, long term, seemingly intractable human problems like the ones they are taking on can only be addressed in this type of framework in my opinion…

Given society’s choice of building a pipeline to prison and/or poverty v. a pipeline to possibility and promise the choice is clear.

With City Heights in particular representing less than 1% of San Diego’s geography but 15% of violent crime, endemic food insufficiency evidenced in the area being declared a federally designated food desert, and with San Diego in general having the 5th largest homeless population in the US and 3rd largest number of displaced Vets in the country, we clearly both have a huge challenge and a huge opportunity to crack the code on how to serve and move this disenfranchised part of humanity- from survive to THRIVE.

Making the Net Work is akin to moving a market, so here are 5 key market-changing levers of which one needs to apply at least 3 to ensure mission success and systemic change.

Borrowed from The Purpose Economy, they are:

  1. Identify Bright Spots or positive deviants- small scale efforts that have achieved a remarkable result
  2. Leverage Research & Data– This is not only about the bottom line. We need to identify and measure non-financial success. What perceptions do stakeholders carry around with them that prevent them from making the switch? This applies both to the population served, and the stakeholders we want to ignite to be aware of and address the important issues at hand
  3. Apply Disruptive Technology– Can we use technology to catalyze massive change?
  4. Move Public Perception– People can’t join the cause if they don’t know about it, or have the wrong frame of mind about it. Our work must include changing and elevating public consciousness
  5. Shift Public Policy– When we change policy –remember that just because it is legal, doesn’t mean it is ethical. Slavery was legal at one time but that didn’t warrant endorsing it! When we change public policy, we change the rules of the market.

Note: All these apply  to different initiatives but with different weighting especially if you intend to tap the pro bono or volunteer engagement cohort in your work.

Altruism, compassion, kindness, love, and trust are our special sauce and we must use them abundantly!

No one of us is as smart or as capable as all of us, so leveraging our social capital in a networked people system comprised of an inclusive & healthy climate and culture will also be key…

Learn more about scaling this work and an upcoming summit in San Diego at: http://www.alliance4empowerment.org/

Finally, as this week’s content is a bit heavy, here is some laughter to lighten the load…

The Goldberg Brothers – The Inventors of the  Automobile Air Conditioners

The four Goldberg brothers, Lowell, Norman, Hiram, and Max,  invented and developed the first automobile air-conditioner.
On July 17, 1946 , the temperature in Detroit was 97  degrees.

The four brothers walked into old man Henry Ford’s  office and sweet-talked his secretary into telling him that
four gentlemen were there with the most exciting innovation  in the auto industry since the electric starter.

Henry was curious and invited them into his office.

They refused and instead asked that he come out to the  parking lot to their car.

They persuaded him to get into the car, which was about
130 degrees, turned on the air conditioner, and cooled the
car off immediately.

The old man got very excited and invited them back to the  office, where he offered them $3 million for the patent.

The brothers refused, saying they would settle for $2  million, but they wanted the recognition by having a label,
‘The Goldberg Air-Conditioner,’ on the dashboard of  each car in which it was installed.

Now old man Ford was more than just a little anti-Jewish,  and there was no way he was going to put the Goldberg’s
name on two million Fords.

hey haggled back and forth for about two hours and  finally agreed on $4 million and that just their first names
would be shown.

And so to this day, all Ford air conditioners show —

Lo, Norm, Hi, and Max — on the controls.

Lose control of yourself & pass it on!

Thanks this week go to Larry H for the chuckles, the amazing team at La Maestra- Zara, Carmen and friends, Naila, Feroza, Sneha-ji, Amanda, Anna, Azim K and others living their values, and altruists everywhere!

Pay it forward…



“The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things,

not simply of repeating what other generations have done – (whoa)men who are creative, inventive and discoverers.”– Jean Piaget

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