Monday, September 20, 2010
The nation's annual "Good Season" officially launches this week in New York. It's that period between Labor Day and the December holidays that used to be crammed with glitzy society charity benefits and balls -- before the mass philanthropy movement stepped in to eclipse many of them with a rush of think-fests calling for cross-sector collaboration to make the world a smarter, gentler place.
Three of the season's top social innovation conferences kick off today in Manhattan within less than a half-mile of each other: the sixth annual Clinton Global Initiative; Mashable's Social Good Summit, and TEDxChange: The Future We Make, a five-hour Webcast of live thought-leader conversations co-sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, moderated by TED Curator Chris Anderson from the Paley Media Center, and simulcast to 82 locations around the globe.
Many of this week's panel talks and speeches will focus on the power of social networks and other forms of new media to effect change. [CGI is adding a track on social media this year, while Mashable, the social media blog, is partnering with the United Nations Foundation to open a livestreamed discussion about how technology and social networks can help world leaders meet the Millennium Development Goals they set for themselves 10 years ago to reduce poverty and hunger and improve education, gender equity, access to technology, and other social concerns.]
And that's just for starters. Later in the week, when CGI winds down on Thursday, CUSP 2010 officially kicks off in Chicago, followed a week later by the Social Capital Markets Conference (SOCAP10) in San Francisco and The FEAST Conference back in New York the week after that. The annual PopTech conference, featuring an ecletic mix of artists, advocates, educators, scientists, politicans, filmmakers, bloggers and innovators, meets in the seaside village of Camden, Maine, the week after that -- with more do-good conferences to come in November.
To be sure, the social innovation crowd has been highly active on the conference circuit for the past several years. But this year marks a transition to critical mass for this group and its so-called mass philanthropy movement. It's a time when unprecedented thousands of new thought leaders, social networks and causes are starting to come together in droves, across sectors, to share their diverse approaches to social innovation. "Digital media are driving the involvement of millions of citizens and delivering invaluable information and knowledge for development efforts," says Kathy Calvin, CEO of the UN Foundation.
Once again this year, Cause Global will be covering most of these conferences (or will be participating in them as a speaker). But just in case you want to attend, yourself, here's a partial list of the top gatherings scheduled through November 13. We'll be updating this list as the season unfolds; watch this space for details.
(Photo of Brooklyn Bridge graffiti by Christopher Walker)