Imagine two worlds: one in which everyone wanted to get rich, the other a world in which everyone wanted to do good. It is likely the images that come to mind under each scenario look very different to you.

In the world where everyone wants to get rich, you might envision individuals and the leadership of organizations assessing the environment in an attempt to find ways to shape it and operate within it to create a competitive advantage leading to higher than normal profits being earned. In this world the accumulation of wealth would stand as a strong incentive and as an interest as important and powerful as the very individuals and organizations pursuing the wealth.

wordleIn the world in which everyone wants to do “good”, individuals and organizational leaders would act with the interests of others, including the broader society, in mind. In this world concepts such as individual rights and self-interest are balanced with the collective well-being, and issues such as equal access, social justice.

Now imagine the real world of social entrepreneurship, which is in fact, the true Third Way. Borrowing from the world in which everyone wants to gets rich, innovation and creativity is rewarded, excellence in organizational structure and processes is achieved through professional application of best practices in finance, marketing, organizational behavior, operations and strategic management. Beyond efficiency, effectiveness and creativity, social entrepreneurship is loosely-coupled, it’s viral; it’s one thousand individuals whose interests have aligned all acting independently yet in parallel, or one thousand individuals joining to form a single organization to address just one issue. Social entrepreneurship is change, the application of the change-making potential in each of us to shape the outcomes of issues played out in the institutional arenas that exist at the intersection of market and nonmarket environments.

As different as they may have seemed at first, our two imaginary worlds need one another, are complimentary to each other. As Randy Slikkers, Executive Director of Goodwill Industries, Michigan, will note during his Key Note Speech at the upcoming Inspire Conference on Social Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Creativity, if you have “No Money” then you have “No Mission”.

Come spend a day with us on Friday October 14, 2011 in the William S. White Building on the University of Michigan-Flint campus for the 2011 [in]spire conference. The conference is free and will commence with a panel session in which social entrepreneurship is defined. From there a group of local and regional talent will branch off into five tracks including: Health & Community, Engaging Youth, Going Green, Creativity and Commerce, and Getting it Done.


Kentucky farmer and poet Wendell Berry formulated these principles for a sustainable economy, one which focuses on community and the common good. A community economy is not an economy in which well-placed persons can make a “killing.” It is an economy whose aim is generosity and a well-distributed and safeguarded abundance.

Wendell Berry is a strong defender of family, rural communities, and traditional family farms. These underlying principles could be described as “the preservation of ecological diversity and integrity, and the renewal, on sound cultural and ecological principles, of local economies and local communities.

  1. Always ask of any proposed change or innovation: What will this do to our community? How will this affect our common wealth.
  2. Always include local nature – the land, the water, the air, the native creatures – within the membership of the community.
  3. Always ask how local needs might be supplied from local sources, including the mutual help of neighbors.
  4. Always supply local needs first (and only then think of exporting products – first to nearby cities, then to others).
  5. Understand the ultimate unsoundness of the industrial doctrine of ‘labor saving’ if that implies poor work, unemployment, or any kind of pollution or contamination.
  6. Develop properly scaled value-adding industries for local products to ensure that the community does not become merely a colony of national or global economy.
  7. Develop small-scale industries and businesses to support the local farm and/or forest economy.
  8. Strive to supply as much of the community’s own energy as possible.
  9. Strive to increase earnings (in whatever form) within the community for as long as possible before they are paid out.
  10. Make sure that money paid into the local economy circulates within the community and decrease expenditures outside the community.
  11. Make the community able to invest in itself by maintaining its properties, keeping itself clean (without dirtying some other place), caring for its old people, and teaching its children.
  12. See that the old and young take care of one another. The young must learn from the old, not necessarily, and not always in school. There must be no institutionalised childcare and no homes for the aged. The community knows and remembers itself by the association of old and young.
  13. Account for costs now conventionally hidden or externalised. Whenever possible, these must be debited against monetary income.
  14. Look into the possible uses of local currency, community-funded loan programs, systems of barter, and the like.
  15. Always be aware of the economic value of neighborly acts. In our time, the costs of living are greatly increased by the loss of neighborhood, which leaves people to face their calamities alone.
  16. A rural community should always be acquainted and interconnected with community-minded people in nearby towns and cities.
  17. A sustainable rural economy will depend on urban consumers loyal to local products. Therefore, we are talking about an economy that will always be more cooperative than competitive.

In an effort to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to low-income individuals and families, University of Michigan-Flint’s University Outreach partnered with Mid Michigan Community Action Agency to coordinate seven community gardens across central Michigan. Mid Michigan Community Action Agency is a non-profit, human services agency serving Bay, Clare, Gladwin, Mecosta, Midland and Osceola Counties since 1966.

Overall, over 45,000 square feet of garden space was planted in Bay, Clare, Gladwin, Mecosta, Midland and Osceola Counties with the collaboration of several local agencies.  The seven gardens produced more than 6,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables including potatoes, greens, cabbage, tomatoes, melons, peppers, brussels sprouts, eggplants and beets that were distributed throughout mid-Michigan.

In addition to providing fresh produce, the gardening project offered educational opportunities to learn about growing food and cooking healthy foods using fresh produce.  A few workshops were held throughout the mid-Michigan region in hopes of encouraging more home gardens.  University of Michigan-Flint students were also involved in the project.  A group of four communication majors designed a comprehensive communication plan for the gardening project as a service-learning component to their Senior Seminar.

University Outreach and Mid Michigan Community Action Agency community gardens grew and distributed over 6,000 lbs of fresh produce to low-income families!

The 2009 growing season also marked a new partnership with the MichiganWORKS! Summer Youth Employment Program.  MichiganWORKS! supported central-Michigan youth, ages 17-22, in their provision of daily care for four of the gardens while MMCAA and UM-Flint’s University Outreach provided oversight for their summer of work.  When asked about their interest in gardening, the youth said that they were happy to be learning gardening skills, responsibility, and teamwork.  One youth was particularly surprised to find out that gardening was more exciting that he had anticipated: “I thought it was going to be boring but it isn’t.  Now I know that if I get bored or hungry, I can grow my own food.”


Originally created by Rebar, a San Francisco art and design collective, Park(ing) Day is an annual, one-day, global event where artists, activists, and citizens collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spots into Park(ing) Spaces — temporary public parks.

Anyone can participate in Park(ing) Day!  This project is intended to promote creativity, civic engagement, critical thinking, unscripted social interactions, generosity, and play.

Student clubs and individual students, faculty, and staff are invited to participate in monthly community service opportunities in the Flint area organized by the UM-Flint Center for Civic Engagement. Locations, time, and the number of needed volunteers vary from month to month, and we are open to your suggestions!

Volunteers are encouraged to meet at the 1st floor UCEN lobby 20 minutes prior to each event’s start time. The First Friday of Service Program Coordinator will lead the group to the volunteer site from this start location 15 minutes prior to the posted event start time.

CRIM Route Clean-Up

Saturday, August 8th, 2009 (9:00 am – 3:00 pm)

In August, 1st Friday slides to Saturday to join our Kettering University friends! UM-Flint and Kettering University partner to remove debris along University Avenue in preparation for the CRIM Festival of Races.


My Flint:  Park(ing) Day
Friday, September 18, 2009 (1:00 – 4:00 pm)

Help make a statement for the importance of green spaces by setting up mini-parks around Downtown Flint!

First Friday of Service volunteer hours count toward the Commitment to Service (CTS) and Michigan Service Scholars (MSS) volunteer recognition programs at UM-Flint.

For questions or to R.S.V.P., please contact Gary Ashley at (810) 424-5458 or [email protected]