Jeff Dunsavage: December Innerpreneur Spotlight
A person in transition — trying to blend my talents for writing, editing, and connecting people, ideas, and resources with my passion for environmentally and socially responsible business practices and my newfound calling: assisting the families of people who disappear outside their country’s borders.
Since my brother’s disappearance in Honduras in May of this year, I have been working with several families who also have lost family members (typically males between the ages of 30 and 50) mysteriously in Latin America. Bad things often happen to good people, and I don’t see our tragedies as trumping anyone else’s (least of of all those people who live in the Third World regions outside or inside our “First World” borders) — but I find the absence of standard operating procedures in our embassies and other defects in the way the U.S., British, Australian, and Dutch governments (the only ones we’ve attempted to work with so far) handle such cases on behalf of the families of the missing to be unconscionable.
I’ve learned that this is a bigger problem than any of us ever realized before it touched us — and it is one our governments and the mainstream media are woefully unconcerned about. Part of who I am, since Mother’s Day 2009, is a person trying to change that lack of concern by building awareness of the missing and their families.
My passion is for:
Environmentally and socially responsible business practices. I believe in the power of capitalism to serve as an engine for change — the big question is, what kind of change will it be? I understand capitalism as the free exchange of value for value and that the reason we’ve made such a mess of the world through capitalism is that, for a complex web of reasons, our definitions of value have become terribly (but not hopelessly) confused. I believe that, at bottom, most people want to have a hand in creating a cleaner, healthier, more fair and just world — but they’ve come (wrongly) to believe that creating that world requires a decline in their quality of life or a diminishment of their dreams for themselves and their families.
I am particularly passionate about ocean conservation issues (overfishing, by-catch, acidification, pollution from urban and agricultural run-off, the huge and rapidly growing problem of plastics in the ocean, to name a few). I believe solving the issues surrounding the degradation of our oceans and forests (particularly the rainforests) would go a long way toward mitigating many of our other environmental and social problems. I also believe ocean-health issues create huge business opportunities that could harness the engine of capitalism to drive positive change.
My business can help you to:
I’ll let you know when I figure that out.
For about two years, my business partner, Frank Zigrino, and I have been researching sustainable (in both senses of the word) business models and networking heavily with like-minded people to identify our “sweet spot.” We are trying to design a business that will bring together people, ideas, and resources to create profitable, socially and environmentally responsible businesses. Two years ago, we created an online community called OurWorld as a global conversation hub for people who want to share their knowledge and promote their sustainable, responsible businesses. More recently, I’ve been blogging as the “Sea E O” at The Sea Suite to share my passion and growing knowledge about ocean-friendly business.
I’ve been neglecting The Sea Suite the past few months while developing The Missing Americans Project — an online community for people who want to learn more about and help do something about the problem of U.S. government indifference to the problem of missing U.S. citizens in foreign countries. As luck and social media would have it, we quickly learned that this is not solely, or even primarily, a U.S. problem, so as we develop our nonprofit organization, the Missing Americans Project will become part of a more comprehensive global effort to educate, advocate for, and support the efforts of the families of the missing.
I make things different each day by:
Reaching out to ask for and offer help in the areas that interest me. I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of people in their willingness to share their time and knowledge. We are in a new moment of history, in which communication technology has made us all next-door neighbors. No responsible person can say anymore “I didn’t know about that problem”, “I had no way of knowing how my behavior affects those around me.” More than ever before, we see specifically what we choose to see — the internet and social media give us the opportunity to broaden and deepen our experience of the world or to cocoon ourselves in deeper isolation from alternative perspectives.
I have lots of ideas about:
How to design businesses that will be environmentally and socially responsible, as well as profitable, and how to use traditional and new media to promote them. Partnership, dedication, and creativity are the keys.
My advice is:
Whatever you want to do, start now. Don’t worry about your ideas being half-baked — experience will bake them for you.
“Madness is something rare in individuals — but in groups, parties, peoples, ages it is the rule.”