Youth Social Enterprise Boot Camp – A Kickass Time

Top: musicians on the first night. Bottom left: social enterprise is the intersection of community needs and customer desires. Bottom right: issues on post-it notes on category flip charts, waiting to be pared down.

Friday night: I was scared, a bit. Unsure of what this whole weekend was going to be like, and nervous to do my speech. I was trying to be kind and open, meet new people, get over my fears, and not be afraid of talking to other people just because I didn’t know them. All the others coming into the room looked kind of nervous too, or at least quiet. We were all figuring out what this event was going to be about.

After my speech, (which you can read here), I felt pumped and supported, smart, capable (“yeah! I did it!”). After the other speeches, we did one last exercise where we drummed up ideas and put together a list of social issues we wanted to work on.

On the drive home to Adam’s place that night, I stopped at one point just to have a bit of a breather. A moment of stillness. I pulled over and turned the car off, and got out. I looked at the starry sky over Leitches Creek. The silence felt good in my ears.

Pick a topic. Brainstorm a vision statement. Come up with business ideas that could bring that vision forth. Do feasibility studies and put the ideas through the wringer. Work with other people, some of whom you've just met, on this whole process.

Saturday:
We broke up into groups based on the issues we wanted to spend out weekend on. I chose ‘agriculture’. Then we brainstormed ideas for businesses that could meet a need, and help create our vision.

All in all, the day was about: Just going for it, dreaming big. Making snap judgements and also having to seriously think about elements (costs, possibilities). Learning, learning, til our brains kinda hurt. Marketing, SWOT analysis, unique selling points. Calculating breakeven sales.

My drive on Sunday morning.

Cape Breton University.

Sunday: The knowledge from yesterday, that felt so overwhelming at the time, was starting to sink in. The new relationships with all these other folks was also starting to sink in. It really is so good to hang out face to face instead of online (although online has its place.)

We had to present the business idea from yesterday to a panel of judges. Really “on the fly”, but it was good and it worked out well. Hearing the others’ ideas and seeing them present them to the judges – I was so proud of everyone! Presenting is really hard!

Out of this weekend bootcamp came five viable business ideas, as well as dozens of new connections and lots of new knowledge about local funding sources, local support for small business and social enterprise. I can’t share the business ideas, because some of the folks who developed them this weekend will be working on creating them in real life, so I don’t want to jump the gun on that. But, they were super exciting!

At the very end we all stood in a big circle, and each said what we had hoped to get out of the workshop, and what we were coming away with. Then we would toss a ball of yarn to another person, while holding on to the end. We created a colorful ‘spiderweb’ in the middle of the circle. It was pretty amazing to feel the power of everyone’s voices, and physically SEE our connections to each other made manifest by the yarn.

It was also really inspiring to see Meghan Farrell, who is my age, lead everyone in the spiderweb exercise (as well as throughout the weekend, in various ways). She’s a born leader who has honed her skills. She makes me feel that yes, I can do this. I can be a strong female, leading, kindly, with joy. It’s possible. WE are possible.

On the way back to my boyfriend’s place, the sun was shining and I felt like I could take on the world. So proud, of myself and of everyone who was there. I stopped to take some pictures outside of a little yellow abandoned cabin.

And then, and I think this is worth sharing, too, I felt a real letdown. I got back to the house, and everyone there was in their own routine. A relaxed Sunday. Not on the same excited page as I was. I found myself feeling hurt that they didn’t share in my excitement, my pride. But, I didn’t want to lash out at them. I knew what I had to do: go for a walk.

So, I did. And as I walked along, I cried and cried. Letting it out, letting it out. It’s hard to admit that I cried (and even as I type this, I second-guess it, think “Man, do I really want to put THAT on my blog?”) – because in our culture, crying means failure or weakness.

But I’ve come to realize that for me, crying is a necessary part of my emotional health. It’s a release. It actually feels really good, in a strange way!

So I went and walked, and cried. Then I walked back again, feeling much better. More relaxed.

This world we’re in can be tough on sensitive people. It’s either “crisis! urgent! the world is ending!” or it’s “yeah positive! we can change things!” A real broad spectrum. It’s good to practice detaching from those emotions, sometimes.

Anyway. Here are the necessary links for more info about Social Enterprise in Cape Breton:

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4 Responses to Youth Social Enterprise Boot Camp – A Kickass Time

  1. MJ says:

    Leah:
    So wonderful to read your thoughts. I am pleased that the experience was so positive for you. You and all the participants deserve praise. You all attended without knowing what to expect, and you created an amazing weekend! As a judge, I was excited to see such a level of engagement.
    Pat yourself on the back, and then say, “What is the next step?”

  2. Wow, what an amazing experience!

  3. Pingback: Youth Social Enterprise Boot Camp a Big Hit! - ACCSE / CAESC

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