Thursday, August 21, 2008

Day 16: Sustainability

This afternoon, I had two important meetings. The first involved helping Jovel to diagnose the issues of Generación X, the social organization that he and two other former gang members lead. The group was initially founded in 2003 to combat the government’s direct targeting of tattooed youth. Back then, police were imprisoning and in some cases murdering youth without trial, solely on the basis of having tattoos. Thankfully, this policy has all but vanished, but this has left Generación X without a clear purpose. Jesus lead the meeting in which we diagnosed the problems, causes, and effects. We then came up with some recommendations for how to improve Generación X. At the end of the meeting, I acknowledged Jovel as I was very impressed with he willingness to take constructive criticism with grace and humbleness.

My second meeting was with the new consulting group that is forming. Last week I presented each fledgling business with a simple template that included basic information about the business they want to found. This information serves as the base for the Business Plan that we are hoping to complete before I leave. In the meeting, I reviewed the business template that the group had completed and then discussed with the team the next steps that are necessary to complete a more detailed assessment of the business venture. I am building a step by step guide that is based on the book, “Hurdle: The Book on Business Planning.” The resource is incredibly helpful and is even offered as a free download.

Overall, I am quite pleased at the progress that we are making, although I must confess that I wish the pace would be a little faster. Little changes in behavior are occurring which serve as a testament, that the group is slowly changing its old ways of non-profit thinking and forming some business acumen. There is a running joke in the office about the sustainability of everything. The joke started from our initial discussions around sustainability, but has evolved to include everything, from keeping the air-conditioning on for too long (Not sustainable) to borrowing money from friends (Not sustainable). While the jokes are very much tongue in cheek, it makes me happy that the group is using such important concepts in daily life. I am also encouraged by the fact that many of the people in the office come to seek advice from me on a number of issues. This is a true testament to the trust and respect that the group has bestowed upon me.

Joel Montgomery

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