Michael Norton OBE is one of the original pioneers of the social enterprise change space, having spent over 40 years supporting voluntary organisations, developing creative ideas for a better world, turning them into successful projects, and encouraging others to go out and change the world. After time as a scientist, merchant banker and publisher, in 1975 Michael Norton set up Directory of Social Change, then the UK’s leading provider of information and training to the non-profit sector. In 1995, he set up Centre for Innovation in Voluntary Action (CIVA) through which he has initiated a raft of innovative projects worldwide including: a banking system for street children in South Asia; village publishing in India; UnLtd, a foundation supporting social entrepreneurs in the UK, and similar foundations in India and South Africa; Changemakers, YouthBank and MyBnk all of which give opportunities to young people; FoodWorks, volunteers cooking donated food in donated kitchens to provide meals for the needy; and the Otesha Project, promoting sustainable living in a fairer world. In 2011, he launched Buzzbnk, an internet platform to enable the crowdfunding of social ventures. He authored “365 Ways to Change the World” (published around the world), “The Everyday Activist” and numerous books on fundraising.
?!X: What’s the Future You Choose?
MN: The Future I Choose is a future which uses the creativity and energy of people to find solutions to the world’s big problems, such as poverty, disease, abuse of human rights, bad government, environmental degradation, global warming, etc. The starting point is usually ideas that people have, not governments. The next step is for people to put those ideas into practice, and then make them work. We call these people social entrepreneurs. They should be encouraged, and their contribution celebrated. This is how we are going to make a better world.
?!X: What’s a ‘think’ to create this future?
MN: My book “365 Ways to Change the World”, which gives a big issue for each day of the year, and some little actions that can start to make a diffrerence. Your small actions could lead on to bigger and bigger things. the important things are (a) to identify an issue you feel passionate about and want to address, (b) devise a way of addressing that issue, using your brain in a creative way to come up with a solution and (c) to get started. As Lao Tzu said more than 2 thousand five years ago , “A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step”.
?!X: What’s an ‘act’ to create the future you choose?
MN: The biggest problem facing the world is not hunger, disease, water, lack of education, war, corruption… it is apathy. The fact that we can see problems around us, but do nothing. So pledge to give up apathy, to do something, to do one thing to help make a better world.
?!X: What’s a ‘vote’ to create the future you choose?
TNR: Put your pledge to do something to change the world on Pledge Bank and get others to do the same. If you need encouragement, go to Stickk.com and define some rewards and punishments for achieving or not achieving your goal, and get a group of friends around you as cheerleaders. Or as another very simple step, go to The Rain Forest Site, click and save one square metre of rainforest, which will cost you nothing.
?!X: Future Soundtrack – What song would you take with you?
MN: John Lennon’s Imagine. If we can imagine a better future, we can do something to create it!
?!X: Can you share with us up to 5 weblinks that you find interesting and inspiring?
Inspired to tell us The Future You Choose and how we can Think, Act and Vote to create it? You can here.