'Out of the Trance & Into Action'

I was recently profiled by New School professor and longtime communications consultant Bonnie McEwan for her series of people "who have made a positive difference in the world." She titled the brief interview "Out of the Trance & Into Action."

Bonnie features folks from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures who work in a range of fields. Her readers are primarily executives in the US nonprofit sector.

She has 20+ years experience leading marketing and communications efforts for social sector organizations, including the national communications divisions of two iconic nonprofits, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Girl Scouts of the USA.

At The New School's School for Public Engagement she teaches courses in media advocacy, social marketing, and public relations.

Perhaps needless to say, I'm honored to be included in the series. Here's the interview:

How would you describe your life’s work?

There are a couple quotes that inspire everything I do.

  • “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” (Arundhati Roy)
  • “The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” (social psychologist Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi)

My mission: Help awaken a social and spiritual consciousness and transform failed systems. Help counter the material, disheartening and destructive messages too rampant in our culture. Raise ethics and inspire creativity for a more open and sustainable society. Ignite the mind, tickle the emotions, and stir the soul.

Why does it matter?

Because there are seemingly insurmountable challenges facing us. Soul-numbing consumerism. Corporate malfeasance. Environmental destruction. Economic disparities. Propaganda machines. Fear and ignorance. Apathy and cynicism. Trite thought. The problem is that most people are in a trance, unable to see beyond their daily survival. Even if they do have some perspective, they’re unable to act on it. People need to be inspired. People want to be inspired.

How did you come to do this work?

Fate? Actually, I was in that consumerist trance, working in the corporate world, but thankfully went through an evolution in consciousness. Yoga and meditation helped. So did 9/11. Once I broke that trance, I started applying my corporate-honed skills to social impact.

What would you say is your most significant achievement in the past two years?

Nothing I’ve done has been as personally fulfilling as producing TEDxLongDock in Beacon, NY, last summer (2013), a day-long event with 20-plus hand-picked speakers and performers. It was the culmination of many months of planning and hard, selfless work with a small, dedicated team. We brought together a diverse group of doers, thinkers, facilitators and catalysts interested in making the Hudson Valley a better place to live. The energy in the filled-to-capacity room was electric. The love was palpable.

What’s next for you?

My main focus right now is producing Social Venture Institute / Hudson Valley in Rhinebeck, NY, May 9-11. We’re calling it a weekend of profound problem solving, visioning and connecting, all in the inspired setting of one of the world’s premier educational retreat centers, Omega Institute. We’re convening social entrepreneurs and innovative business-builders and nonprofit leaders, the dreamers and doers, the thinkers, the visionary world-changers, creators and catalysts. The people and organizations behind it are some of the original thinkers and doers of the social enterprise movement.

Beyond that, I’m continuing to build my consulting practice, Antidote Collective, a social enterprise, BEAHIVE (collaborative spaces for work and community), and a nonprofit I co-founded and lead as board chair, Re>Think Local (a collaborative of locally owned independent businesses, artists, farmers, and nonprofits). I try to leave room to breathe and for new adventures to arise.

How do you want to be remembered?

Here’s an epitaph I drafted during a visioning workshop: Scott was known for his generosity — of spirit and money. He brought people together, lit their creative fires, inspired them to serve their fellow humans. He was a calming presence to those around him. He had a lasting impact on integrating work with the personal and social.