Theory of Change #2: Capacity, Relationship & Collaboration
In 2007, Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky were broke roommates trying to figure out a way to pay their rent in San Francisco. They had an idea to rent an air mattress in their apartment to strangers visiting the city for a conference. After some successes, they believed that this might be a replicable business model. Maybe even a whole company. Floating the idea to potential investors, they were widely dismissed. Nobody believed travelers would want to do this. Some people worried about liability. Others just didn’t think it was a realistic idea. Their company, Airbnb, today has over 7 million listings across the world and operates in over 220 countries.
I tell this story to illustrate that birthing something new is difficult. It can be lonely and defeating, even if the idea itself holds real promise.
I see this often with individuals whose grassroots service projects we support at The Pollination Project. They tell us that they feel “abnormal” for pursuing their vision for social change, or that those around them have expressed skepticism that their idea is worth pursuing. It takes great courage and vulnerability to press on despite these circumstances, which may be why so many people hold a vision that remains unspoken or unfulfilled.
This, in part, is why financial support will never be our only focus. In uplifting individual action, which I wrote about last week, we offer seed funding and belief. Yet I believe that what sustains individual changemakers for the journey is not just money, but relationships and connection.
Our global community now includes 4,000 visionary practical dreamers. By deepening relationships with each of them, facilitating community among them, and encouraging collaboration between them, we hope to build resilience, knowledge, and self-directed communities of practice.
It is difficult to stand alone and blaze a trail, the destination to which seems only immediately clear to you. It is far easier to stand in community, toward a shared dream of acting with courage toward a kinder, more compassionate world.