Civic Entrepreneur is a podcast hosted by Dr. Josh Franco, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Cuyamaca College, that focuses on civic entrepreneurship, grassroots organizing, and public policy with diversity, inclusion, and equity at its core.
Episode 1: Hello World! introduces Civic Entrepreneur, its vision and mission; defines civic entrepreneurship, grassroots organizing and public policy; and explains why diversity, inclusion, and equity are critical in today's society.
Hello and welcome to Civic Entrepreneur, a podcast that focuses on civic entrepreneurship, grassroots organizing, and public policy with diversity, inclusion, and equity at its core. I'm your host, Dr. Josh Franco, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Cuyamaca College. Welcome to Episode 1: Hello World! In this podcast, I'll share Civic Entrepreneur's vision and mission, define some key terms, and begin the conversation about diversity, inclusion, and equity and why it's so important for us in today's society. Let's start with the vision and mission of Civic Entrepreneur. The vision of Civic Entrepreneur is to positively transform communities by unleashing the creative ideas and entrepreneurial energies of its people, especially millennials and Gen Zs. Communities are bubbling with individuals who recognize the importance of cooperation, collaboration, and creativity in today's increasingly interconnected world. The mission of Civic Entrepreneur is to provide our listeners with knowledge and practical advice on civic entrepreneurship, grassroots organizing, and public policy to strengthen their long-term social commitment, environmental stewardship, and financial prosperity. The notion of Civic Entrepreneur was inspired by the book Civic Revolutionaries: Igniting the Passion for Change in America's Communities by Douglas Henton, John Melville, and Kimberly Walesh of Collaborative Economics Inc. Henton, Melville and Walesh, in their other book, Grassroots Leaders for a New Economy: How Civic Entrepreneurs Are Building Prosperous Communities, describe civic entrepreneurs as individuals who "can forge powerfully productive linkages at the intersection of business, government, education, and community, operate at the grassroots level to create collaborative advantages that make it possible for their economic communities to compete on the global stage." Civic Entrepreneur is about living and breathing this transformative concept with diversity, inclusion, and equity at its core. Now you may be asking: what's diversity, inclusion, and equity? You may have heard these terms before, and I have some rather straightforward definitions. When it comes to diversity, it's about embracing the diversity of people and cultures. The idea here is that everyone should be invited to be present and engaged. Secondly, when it comes to inclusivity, you can practice this by purposefully including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized. In other words, everyone who attends should be invited to contribute. Lastly, when it comes to equity, the idea here is to make a concerted effort to reduce and eliminate equity gaps between genders, races, ethnicities classes, and differently abled individuals and communities. So, in other words, everyone should be uniquely supported so that they can contribute and be fully engaged. Now, before explaining why diversity, inclusion, and equity, are so important in today's society, I'd like to define three additional terms: civic entrepreneurship, grassroots organizing, and public policy. So what is civic entrepreneurship? Civic entrepreneurship combines the spirit of community and the spirit of enterprise. It's about bringing the civic along with the economic, along with a social, along with the political, altogether in a way that isn't normally done. A civic entrepreneur "operates in a time of dramatic change, they see opportunity and they mobilize others in the community to work towards a collective well-being." And then, lastly, civic entrepreneurs create and operate at the nexus of public, private, nonprofit, education, and civil sectors. These are very unique individuals and they're present in every community across the country and arguably around the world. The next term we wanted to define is grassroots organizing. Grassroots organizing is focused on empowering individuals and communities at the local level to advocate and lead change. Grassroots organizing also includes things like lobbying and advocacy efforts, conducting asset mapping and power analyses, implementing political empowerment programs, and supporting emerging and established policy leaders. Grassroots organizing, at its most basic core, is about the people-to-people relationship that comes with living in a community whether it's geographically defined or more broadly interpreted. The third and final term is public policy. Now, public policy is the constitutional, legal, judicial, regulatory, or policy documents that are produced by governmental institutions at the international, national, and subnational levels. Public policy is all around us and, whether we like it or not, it's important for us to be aware, to be engaged, and to be open about shaping public policy since it affects our daily lives and the lives of people that we care about. It's important to note that any individual, whether young or old, rich or poor, identifies as liberal or conservative, can help shape public policy and meaningful and impactful ways I want to return to the question of why diversity, inclusion, and equity? And I want to answer this question by looking at each of these elements and offering an explanation or example. Why embrace diversity of people and cultures? simple: we're all human. Each of us have a unique experience that shapes our being, our understanding, and our engagement with others and ideas. We need to be welcoming of those different experiences. We need to learn from those different experiences. And we need to be considerate that not each of us have those same experiences, and thus there's an opportunity to learn. Second question is: why practice inclusivity by purposefully including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized? And let me share three examples. If someone's invited to a church, they should be invited to worship as well. If someone's hired to work in a company or business, they should be invited to contribute their time and talents in both the expected, but also in the unexpected ways. And then lastly, if someone is encouraged to speak up, then their voice should be acknowledged and their experience should be heeded in both material and immaterial ways. Now the third and final question is: why make a concerted effort to reduce and eliminate equity gaps between genders, races, ethnicities, classes, and differently abled individuals and communities? Sadly, the enduring legacies of constitutional and legal exclusions established these gaps. Over time, these gaps have shaped generations of individuals, communities, and peoples. And we have to acknowledge that our own experiences, our own advantages, our own disadvantages, shape our personal experiences and the experiences of those around us. With being open and understanding and willing to engage in the hard work to close these gaps, we can have a more just an equitable society. At this point, I want to make it clear that obviously I don't have all the answers. I have a lot more questions than I ever will be able to answer, but the hope is to explore them and meaningful and deliberate ways. The whole intent of Civic Entrepreneur is to understand that there are people out there who are willing to traverse different sectors, different elements, different parts of society to try to improve their communities. And if civic entrepreneurs do their work from the framework of diversity, inclusion, and equity, they can have a dramatic and long lasting impact on all members of their community. I want to conclude by sharing what's on tap for future Civic Entrepreneur podcasts. In future podcasts, we'll be exploring concepts like individual and community, trust and accountability, economy and society, people and place, change and continuity, and idealism and pragmatism. Each of these topics align with chapters from the book Civic Revolutionaries: Igniting the Passion for Change in America's Communities. And the goal is to explore these topics from the framework of diversity, inclusion, and equity. Thank you for taking the time to listen in on this episode of Civic Entrepreneur. I welcome your feedback, thoughts, comments, and suggestions. If you're interested in being interviewed as a part of this podcast, feel free to send me a message on Twitter or visit our website at www.civicentrepreneur.com. Thank you and take care!