When I started blogging for IndyHub a few years ago, Karissa Hulse encouraged me to come up with a name for my posts that would make a statement. After some deliberation, I decided upon “The Great Green Hope”. There are several things going on within that name, but I want to focus on hope.
According to one definition I found, hope means to desire something with the expectation of obtainment. In other words, you want something to happen and you expect that it will happen. That’s my attitude with my posts – I want things that make our city more eco-conscious to happen and I expect that they will happen.
Recently, I’ve been interacting with a couple of not-for-profit organizations that define themselves as a social enterprise. This means they make money in addition to, and/or instead of, receiving grants or donations in order to accomplish social good. It’s a trend that’s pretty popular on the coasts. There’s even a movement of organizations that “use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems” to be certified as a “B-corp”. (My interest in this type of work is probably why I ended up being Sybil in the “Which Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey character are you?” quiz.)
One of these local social enterprises is a client — RecycleForce provides recycling services while offering life-changing workforce training to formerly incarcerated individuals. These folks collect and demanufacture e-waste and other recyclables with the goal of helping ex-offenders get a job. The mission of this social enterprise is to provide hope to a group of people who have an extraordinarily difficult time landing a full-time job.
You know that section of an employment application that says, “Have you ever been convicted of crime?” They have to fill that section out. As you might imagine, not many people who fill out that section are called back for an interview. The rate of recidivism (i.e. going back to prison) in the United States is alarmingly high at approximately 70 percent, in part, because ex-offenders can’t get a job when they finish their sentence.
Another local social enterprise is one you’ve probably heard of – People for Urban Progress (PUP). I recently met with the organization’s chief innovator, Michael Bricker, and he told me he likes to think of PUP as a local innovation center focused on the intersection of transit, environment and design. PUP’s currently project nails that focus on the head – they are disassembling the old chairs at Bush Stadium (with the help of RecycleForce I might add!) and repurposing them as a functional urban design element for IndyGo bus stops.
Not only will this effort keep these unwanted relics out of a landfill, but Michael’s hope is that this project will bring more attention to the woefully underfunded bus system in Marion County. He hopes to open a few more eyes to the inadequate reality of our city’s transit system with these bright yellow chairs around town.
These are just two social enterprises that offer what I would label as a “great green hope”. What other social enterprises do you know about? How can you get involved? Maybe you have an idea that’s based on a hope for our fair city – what’s holding you back?
Ryan Puckett is principal of two21 LLC, a communication firm with a focus on providing creative content, advocacy and communications strategy for all things pertaining to sustainability. Ryan is an Indiana University-Bloomington grad and alum of Northwestern University’s School of Journalism. He lives in Broad Ripple with his wife, son and dog, is a veteran of 160+ Phish shows and is a long-suffering Cubs fan. Contact Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @rmpuckett.