It’s New Year’s and I’m filled with hopeful stories I heard at a Compassionet gathering I attended this week. About 12 of us gathered with Srinivas Sukumar at Rudite Emir’s house in Mountain View. Sukumar was a client of mine at HP in the 1990’s—head of strategic planning for the labs, and is now the Community Program Manager for the CAL IT2 Institute at UC San Diego, having “retired” a few years ago. I went to India with him in 1998 to do strategic visioning for a Chinmaya Mission school in Coimbatore and we have been close colleagues ever since. Compassionet is a circle of his friends that all share an interest in spiritual matters combined with work in service of the community. We meet a couple of times a year when Sukumar is back in the Bay Area from San Diego, and are beginning to deepen the threads that connect us.
I’d like to share some of the things that inspired me.
CENTER FOR LEADERSHIP INNOVATION AND CHANGE (CLIC)
Prasad Kaipa, son of a Hindu brahmin steeped in traditional Vendanta teachings, is a management consultant intent on bringing the wisdom traditions to bear on business. He’s left his successful North American practice for the most part to help start a Center for Leadership Innovation and Change at the Indian School of Business, now ranked 20th in the world among business schools.
“We are teaching the three fold way of Vedanta, where head, heart, and body are working together,” he explained as he shared what he’s been up to this last year. “The head or mind is the source of innovation. But change must be felt in the heart to sustainable, and leadership is really all about walking the talk and embodying one’s intention.”
He’s engaging his students in a balanced pursuit of all three and is very excited about the progress he is making. He’s recruiting visiting faculty to come for several weeks or a year and teach.
The University of California has four science institutes, one of which is the CALIT2 supported by UC San Diego and UC Irvine. It focuses on information technology and telecommunication, led by Ramish Rao. Sukumar met him after moving to San Diego to begin a Chinmaya Mission there with his wife Lakshmi, and found himself on the faculty as head of an India/US bride project. This ran into bureaucratic barriers that were too high and Suk’s work has now focused locally, working with the disadvantaged African American communities in San Diego. He works with Mike Cole, a professor expert in cognitive psychology who has guided the development of a service learning approach that marshals all the resources of UCSD to help the community. Students are immersed in fieldwork that gets evaluated and have to write summary papers on learning’s. Sukumar and the team are seeing real shifts in students going to through this program, and hopes the current of interest generated by the Obama campaign will lead to further growth in this approach.
KOZMETSKY GLOBAL COLLABORATORY
Syed Shariq is director of the Kozmetsky Global Collabortory at Stanford. It was funded by George Kozmetsky, founder of Teledyne, to establish a program linking researchers at Stanford and the University of Texas to conduct research on how technology can be used to enhance global prosperity. Stanford's Department of Communication and the university's Media X program will collaborate with the University of Texas' Institute for Innovation, Creativity and Capital (IC2) to develop ways to foster successful business ventures rapidly in developing countries.
Shariq’s journey has taken him down many exciting since he began in 2003, but the most recent one is amazing. “Our community has been affected by our work. We are now working on how to reconcile people’s inner and outer paths, through what we calls Venture Design.” Shariq said. They have recruited PhD. students and involved them in deep inner work in the context of very focused dissertations dealing with village development. They are on working on topics like “oneness,” “hope,” “ethics,” and “love.” Working with an “ecologies of three” concept where triads work together, they are experiencing a depth of inquiry and change that is remarkable. “The students and we are realizing we clearly have to heal ourselves to be instruments of change.” Shariq said.
QUANTIFIED SELF MEETUP GROUP
Brinda Dalal reported on having joined Kevin Kelly in a Quantified Self Meetup Group, now about 130 people who have agreed to measure themselves in depth in regard to health and other factors and then track progress and learning. Brinda has been involved with Xerox in anthropological research and ecology for years, and can imagine this project moving about beyond strictly health related data. She’s deeply interested in how the way digital natives keep up with each other with a torrent of snippet-like information, and even knows some people who are “life streaming” using as many as eight video cams in their home.
THE STOP — TORONTO GORMET SOUP KITCHEN
Laila Emir, Rudite Emir’s daughter, came and checked in, and really touched me with a story of a friend of hers who is transforming a soup kitchen operation in Toronto with locally grown food, excellent recipes, and a belief that everyone should be treated with real dignity. The Stop is become a real phenomenon, and a great example of the re-localization of the food system that will have to occur as transportation becomes prohibitively costly in the context of peak oil. The Stop is headed up by Joshna Maharaj. Check their web site, The Stop!!
There were many personal check-ins from 15 of us who came to the gathering that it’s not appropriate to share here. I came away with a strong feeling of hope. If these kinds of things are growing in this small group, what is happening in the larger world! We all agreed to meet more often.