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GO BIG ALWAYS

(Due to popular Twitter demand, the below is a guest post from @staceymonk. I invite you to read what she has to say and to participate if the spirit of “going big” touches you. Oh, and Happy Birthday Stacey.)

Hi! I’m Stacey.

Wed night, as Sam was apparently pondering blogging on poop (er, diarrhea to be precise), and was considering opting out of his daily blog post, I interjected and offered to write it for him. After all, the poor man’s injured and, after a recent urinal debacle, even the enterprise octopus is emotionally scarred. It’s been a rough few weeks for Sam, so I proposed he take the day off and leave me in charge.

His return tweet to my offer to ghost write for him ended with the words “go for it :)” and while I’m pretty certain he was joking, I’m not one to shy away from an opportunity, so here I am.

This may be a fitting place for me to show up.

After all, I’m the perhaps crazy person who, after a trip to Africa last year, left a really successful career in consulting to found a new nonprofit called Epic Change. I don’t go half way, ever. I go big…always. In addition, although he may not even know it, I used to work with a great client of Sam’s, and have good friends that are working on a very creative Clearspace implementation. Of course, they’d have no reason to suspect that their former-coworker-turned-dogooder would ever have reason to cross paths with the CMO of Jive (Quick shout out: Hey Dan & Todd…look at me! I’m on Sam’s blog!).

But right now I’ve moved on to work on the most important “deliverable” of my life. I’m helping an incredibly determined, passionate local woman in Tanzania rebuild & expand a primary school. Her name is Mama Lucy Kamptoni, and she’s a real example of “going big.” She once raised chickens, and used the income from her poultry business to rent a plot of land next to her home to build a school for the kids in her village. At first, she taught 6 kids, now over 200. Last year, the school nearly closed when a hotel developer bought the land she was renting, and Epic Change was born.

Remember, go big!

Of course, our mission is much larger than this one school (remember…go big!). When I met Mama Lucy, it became profoundly clear that this incredibly savvy, entrepreneurial woman (and, by extension, many other grassroots leaders like her across the globe) didn’t need to be “saved,” and she didn’t need a handout. What she needed was a capital infusion, a loan. So we developed a unique approach which, upon completion of this initial project, we hope to replicate elsewhere. We’re making a series of loans to rebuild & expand the school, then working with the school’s students to develop products based on their stories whose profits can be used to pay back the loans. Once the loan is paid off, the funds will be paid forward to another worthy cause, thereby creating a perpetual gift from one hopeful community in need to another across the globe.

Give us 3-4 years & imagine Kiva (except bigger loans to grassroots leaders of community improvement efforts rather than individual entrepreneurs) mixed with the RED campaign, (except our product designs will be designed to share the stories of children like Gideon and Glory). Of course, we’ve only just begun, but what a beginning:

  • 8 months.
  • 350 people mobilized. Nearly $40,000 raised.
  • 1 Case Foundation award.
  • 4 classrooms constructed & open.
  • 200 smiling faces

*

Here’s the thing: To truly “go big” I need your help.

We estimate that the completion of the school, including several more classrooms, plumbing, their first library, a playground, a school bus and solar power, will take 3-4 years (dependent upon fund raising) and cost at least $200K in addition to what we’ve raised so far. While continuing to build, we’re concurrently developing products based on the stories of the children at the school in an effort to successfully prototype our unique approach to story-powered pay-it-forward social innovation. I’m not risk averse, but I’m not stupid either: these are not things that one accomplishes single-handedly.

Serendipitously, this week is National Volunteer Week

And today, May 2nd just happens to be my 34th birthday. While I don’t expect a present, I would love it if you joined me in celebrating these events by helping me give a few gifts to the children in Tanzania.

Here’s what’s on my wish list:

  • A Movie for the Kids: I’d like to make a movie for the kids to watch when I go back this summer called Your Story Matters. All you need to do to participate is upload to our new YouTube group a very short video clip of yourself answering the questions: who are you? where are you from? Tell them one thing about yourself, ask one question about their lives & say this sentence with your own, personal response: your story matters to me because ___________. We’ll create a montage of the most interesting responses for the kids to watch when we arrive.

You can’t even imagine what their faces will look like when you remind them of their significance. (Although I’ll be glad to take video footage and describe it in graphic detail in my blog…or you could come along to Tanzania!)

  • Donations: Our next goals are a school bus ($25K), another classroom ($10K) and a playground ($7.5K) and we have matching grants pledged for $15K if we’re able to raise that much before November. If you’re able to contribute ANYTHING toward that, I’d be incredibly grateful. Other than a few outliers, our average gift to date has been just $25, and with those gifts a school has been built in Africa. Of course, if you’d really like to make me happy, become a monthly subscriber. You can donate either one time or monthly.
  • Volunteers: In the spirit of National Volunteer Week, and because we need beaucoup help, I’m looking for social fireflies, web 2.0 junkies, artists, kids, adventurers, spin doctors and human calculators to volunteer some time to help out. We even have roles for kids and a weekly “10-Minute Volunteer” opportunity for the many among you who have more passion than time. Just click here to learn more about our volunteer opportunities, or, if you’re a real innovator, to define your own.
  • Oh, and one more wish Sam, a donation from Jive…the coolest nonprofit Clearspace Community implementation ever.

In truth, I’m not sure if Sam will publish this. But perhaps that’s not the point. Even if he doesn’t, this will be one more thread that I’ve spun into the universe whose end is unknown but undoubtedly good. Sam will be one more person that knows what I’m up to…and he’ll know, without a doubt, that when I say something I mean it. Maybe he’ll even (finally) follow me on twitter. @StaceyMonk, Sam.

I believe in Sam’s motto: “Go Big Always.” When the stakes are this high (you know, changing the world) there really is no other way.

To learn more about Epic Change, check out our website our blog. You can also email me anytime, tweet me at @StaceyMonk, connect with me on LinkedIn or Facebook, or just call me directly on my cell at 415.630.0631.

  • http://metroyo.blogspot.com/ Jeane Goforth

    Stacey,
    You and I are sisters in the grass-roots, ‘Go Big Always’ movement. Congratulations on an inspiring post and I’m with you all of the way.
    Woke up with some brilliant insights myself this morning and am all fired up once again.
    People like you are changing the world. Keep it up and Happy Birthday!

  • http://gialyons.wordpress.com Gia Lyons

    Wow! What a great undertaking! Very inspiring.

  • http://Website Richard Fahey

    I agree with Gia. It’s inspiring to see people giving back to the community and others less fortunate than themselves. Also, it can’t have been easy leaving a corporate position to undertake such a venture.
    I going to Pangea Day next Saturday (http://www.pangeaday.org).Your story/work seems really suitable for this.
    All the best.

  • http://www.EpicChange.org Stacey Monk

    To say I’m having a happy birthday is a vast understatement.

    Thanks so much to Sam and to everyone who will get involved today. My gratitude is deeply felt and endless.

    Welcome to Epic Change :)

  • http://thewaynerowe.com/ Wayne Rowe

    What an amazing thing to wake up to! Happy Birthday Stacey! Thank you for giving *us* all a gift on your special day! Beautiful, wonderful, inspirational. I LOVE the “Look Up” song. I will be participating. Thank you Sam for passing this on. Thank you Stacey for your hard work and inspirational dedication to this cause.

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  • http://Website Lucy Kamptoni

    Wow! That’s great Stacey! What Sam has done, I’m sure will brighten your Birthday and will be fruitful to the wonderful and amazing job you are doing for our school – Shepherds Junior.

    Sam,
    Thank you so much for what you’ve done. It’s not only Stacey’s Birthday present, but also for the innocent orphans and less fortune pupils of our school – Shepherds.

  • http://Website Pat Hanley

    Happy Birthday Stacey!! You guys are doing a great job. You keep me inspired to help where I can.

  • http://Website Claire Ucovich

    Epic Change is the real deal..! Stacey Happy Birthday! Sam this is very cool that you shared your real estate with such an exciting and genuine effort.

  • http://blogs.zdnet.com/Howlett Dennis Howlett

    It strikes me that if the school bus thing is the most expensive item, surely a branded, donated one would be a trade for mutual value?

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  • http://www.gobigalways.com/ sam

    I forgot to actually put it in the post, but Jive has donated Clearspace for Stacey’s cause.

  • http://jhipkin.blogspot.com James Hipkin

    This is a fantastic effort. Well done.

  • http://www.EpicChange.org Stacey Monk

    Thanks again Sam, I can’t WAIT to see what my new friends and Jivers help us develop with your gift of Clearspace Community. I promise: it’ll rock. Perhaps the enterprise octopus will be off wheelchair duty by June when I leave for Tanzania and can come with me to visit :) The kids would love her.

  • http://Website Panala Kinzie

    Happy Birthday Baby, Since the day you were born, you have never ceased to amaze me. Just when I think you have accomplished the most amazing goal, you are off to the next one. But this one is by far the one that has made that light shine brightest in you and others. Keep up the good work, and know how blessed I feel that you are my daughter.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/rememberTZ L. Gordon

    i love you stacey! keep it up!

  • http://Website Jess W.

    Happy Birthday! :)

    This is one crazy awesome thing!

    As soon as I can make that video, I will upload it promptly. How cool! :)

  • http://www.bluedesign-sf.com Nicole Andrews

    I have goose bumps. Thanks for being a force to cause real change in our world.
    I am familiar with this type of “calling” to help our planet’s children—particularly the one’s in my community.
    I’ve been an advertising art director and now also take a shamanic approach to art therapy with kids.
    Much of my art direction work seems to be drawing in dogooders since this recent change. If you need any art direction help pls let me know.

  • http://christinelu.com Christine

    Totally inspiring. Left some link love for both you and Sam over at What Gives!?

    http://whatgives.com/post/2008/5/epic-change-starts-with-one-person

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