Posts tagged: Innovation

Unstuck Heroes: How to shop for a better world

Two years ago, David Dietz and Jesse Ayala were wrapping up their assignments as conflict journalists covering the Arab Spring in Egypt. Both were deeply affected by the hundreds of thousands of protesters in Tahrir Square who were calling for change. As they planned their return to the US, they knew they wanted to bring back that same energy for change, that same desire to right what’s wrong.

So if you’d told the then-24-year-olds that a year later they would launch a fashion retail site, no doubt raucous laughter would have ensued. (“I have dress shirts in my closet that my dad has had since 1980,” David confesses.) But passion for change can be a funny thing, taking you places you never imagined.

Fashion’s dirty little secret
Modavanti, David and Jesse’s fashion platform for change, is far from a whim. Upon returning from Egypt, they researched different ways to create a movement.
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Unstuck Hero: Because everyone deserves to live with dignity

On November 19, 2011, in the slums of Nairobi, an unusual grand opening was unfolding: The unveiling of the first Sanergy Fresh Life Toilet, a bright blue, hand-painted, port-a-potty–like facility that would soon become a welcome fixture on the busy urban landscape. Hundreds had turned out to celebrate. The Town Clerk of Nairobi cut the ribbon and offered an enthusiastic keynote. Kids lined up to get their faces painted. The excitement was huge — all for a toilet.

The product was humble, but the goal was audacious. David Auerbach and his co-founders at Sanergy — a start-up that they dreamed up as MBA and engineering students at MIT — were testing the notion that they could create economic prosperity while advancing personal dignity for thousands of Kenyans by innovating a new, community-focused sanitation model.

What may seem obvious now from the outside looking in took David six years of seeking out
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Unstuck Hero: How a grilled cheese sandwich saved the day

Getting stuck is part of being human. It’s what we do in response that makes the difference.

Today we launch Unstuck Heroes, a new series of stories about regular people hitting a wall and then finding ways to push through and improve both their lives and the lives of others. These folks serve as examples of how creativity, commitment, and belief can — bit by bit — change the status quo and send positive ripples through the system.

Our first Hero is Kristin Walter, co-founder and executive director of FeelGood, pictured above (left) with co-founder Talis Apud-Hendricks.

What do I want to be when I grow up?
In the fall of 2004, Kristin Walter was a senior at the University of Texas, working toward a double-degree in pre-med and business. Her life was comfortable. She’d grown up in a small tight-knit community, with parents who had deep faith in her abilities, and always encouraged
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