Christopher Columbus landing on the shores of America 500 years ago inspired Solomon
Just when you think you've heard it all when it comes to Vision Vancouver, along comes something new to make you sit up and ask Whaaaaaa? In part one of a recently published interview with Joel Solomon in The Huffington Post, Vision's chief bagman and puppetmaster says he and his co-horts have a 500-year vision for the planet. He describes how he met Carol Newell on Cortes Island and hatched a plan:
We met on this little island off the coast, pulled together a visioning session for others in the Vancouver area who were thinking similar thoughts and asking themselves the same questions about how they might use their lives in a positive way. And we just talked and talked and talked. It happened that we were meeting on the 500th anniversary of Columbus' discovery, and so it occurred to us to think about what had gone wrong in the last five centuries and what we could possibly do that would have a positive impact on the next 500 years.
Solomon says that they will achieve this with shorter term 50-year strategies:
A 50-year timeline frees you. We found that we could think outside of all kinds of boxes and believe the impossible. And it was a good fit for someone who was living with the thought that death was nearby. We decided on a 500-year vision and a 50-year strategy. We gathered a team, created a model, and began to work in a way that we hoped would have an impact on the region and create a ripple effect.
I re-read the interview twice to make absolutely sure that there are no plans to have Solomon's head cryogenically frozen to allow him to rule once science can resurrect him.
In part two of the interview by Julia Moulden published in the spring Solomon again describes the big picture plan he has for social change:
We had this idea to work in a number of streams at the same time - for profit, not for profit, leadership, and public service - because we wanted to apply a whole-system approach to change.
Moulden presses for more details on what the pieces of Solomon's strategy are. His answer is revelatory, as he indicates that politics is a key part of his bold 500-year plan.
JM: Let's talk a little bit about each piece, beginning with Renewal Partners.
JS: Renewal Partners was designed to make lots of small investments in early-stage businesses such as Happy Planet Foods. Our long-term thinking allowed us to invest "patient capital" - we weren't looking for the rapid growth and quick exit that traditional investors are, and which can have such a destructive impact on communities. In just over a decade, we made more than 100 investments, the last one not long ago. Renewal's annualized rate of return was 12.2 percent and two thirds of the organizations we invested in are still operating, still creating jobs.
The second piece was TIDES, the largest congregator of progressive philanthropic financial assets in North America (of course, there are much bigger foundations, but I'm talking about things that people can participate in). TIDES was founded in the U.S., and we helped bring it into Canada, where it is now one of the larger grant makers in the country.
And then there is Hollyhock, an education, networking, and retreat centre whose mission is to inspire and support people who are making the world better. It's based on a unique idea - that education is not just an intellectual process, but also a psychological, spiritual, and physical one.
So the first three we're well aware of already – Renewal, Tides & Hollyhock – although it would be very hard for many people to disconnect them. Invest in business, and leverage as much charitable money as possible into activist organizations that pass muster, and train people to think the right way in a remote setting. Then Solomon describes the final piece of his "50-year" strategy, one that may surprise a lot of people, including those he support with his money.
Most recently, we've been working with others on Vision Vancouver, a new political party. Mayor Gregor Robertson had a landslide victory - just days after Obama's win - on a progressive platform: greenest city in the world, end homelessness, a creative and entrepreneurial economy. The election of Mayor Robertson is the result of creating conditions where these things could take hold. Nearly 20 years of moving in a purposeful direction.
It's an astonishingly bit of frankness from a political organization that has never allowed the public to peer inside it. Solomon admits that Vision Vancouver is a tool of a greater cause, and that Gregor Robertson is a mere cog in his machine.
Solomon has "created conditions" for nearly 20 years to see his vision for power in British Columbia realized. He's moved in a "purposeful direction", which might include investing millions into Happy Planet Foods, supporting Robertson's move into provincial politics, and creating an opening for Robertson to take the top job in Vancouver.
I have to tip my hat to the man, as he's been very effective at delivering on a strategy that knows no bounds. His timelines are centuries into the future, his financial resources are substantial, and as long as Gregor Robertson does what he's told, they are riding this all the way to the top.
- post by Mike