From Professional Victim to Provocateur of Possibility

My early experiences working in human services resurfaced the trauma of many of my own personal challenges. I found a lot of commonality between my life story and that of the people served by the organizations for which I worked. This led to a strong sense of experiential empathy to complement my feelings of generalized or theoretical compassion. I truly felt solidarity with others based on my own past and felt that this made me more effective in my work. Yet, I found myself focusing on the most negative aspects of my personal life story. I became a professional victim.

Focusing on problems is quite common in human service and other nonprofit organizations. It is the modus operandi and the basis upon which organizations justify their existence and promote their case for support.

I feel that acting as a professional victim was psychologically damaging. Rather than learning from and healing my past to move forward, I felt stuck in the mire of my previous lives.

Now that I am more mature, I understand that I can still feel compassion, empathy, and solidarity with others without limiting myself to the most negative aspects of my life story. I can focus on all of the good things we have in common as well as the bad or challenging things.  We can engage around our shared dreams for the future.

I have become a provocateur of possibility.

The new, new counterculture

The new, new counterculture is shifting our focus

From dialectical to cooperative

From material to spiritual

From critical to creative

From confrontational to compassionate

The new, new counterculture does not forget the old ways, but rather incorporates them into a greater whole.

How have you experienced the new, new counterculture in your work and in your life?

The Social+ Boutique is Now Open!

The Social+ Boutique is now open!






Social+ builds upon the idea of being carbon neutral. People who are Social Positive (Social+) aim to have a net positive social impact by considering the environmental and human impact of everyday decisions and interactions, being actively involved in the community, and expressing kindness and compassion toward others on a daily basis. By pledging to be Social+, you can demonstrate your commitment to positive social change and provide opportunities for increased awareness and discussion with others.

The Social+ Boutique features clothing and other items that you can use to publicly declare your commitment to positive social change. It is a simple way to share a highly complex and very important message AND to remind yourself of the importance of living Social+!

How are you living Social+? Please share your story with us! On Twitter, use #socialpositive to share your everyday decisions and actions that result in a net positive social impact. Send us your picture wearing your Social+ shirt along with a story about how you choose to live Social+ and we may feature you on The Activist’s Muse! Through social media, we can inspire each other to be more aware of, and intentional about, making a difference.


Being carbon neutral is great, but I would like to suggest that being social positive, which we might cutify by writing Social+, is even better.

Social+ goes way beyond being carbon neutral. People who are Social+ also:

– consider the human impact of every decision they make

– are actively involved in their communities

– express kindness and compassion toward others on a daily basis

Similar to carbon neutrality, social positivity can be assessed  by reviewing our daily, weekly, monthly, and annual activities to determine if our net social impact is, indeed, positive. I know that on some days, I may be Social-; this may even out if considering my activities over a period of time.

What Social+ activity did you do today? Are you Social+ this week?

Changemaker Chat: Jon Elliot Ramer

Jon Eliot Ramer (born 1958) is an American entrepreneur, civic leader, inventor, and musician. He is co-founder of several technology companies including Ramer and Associates, ELF Technologies, Inc., and Smart Channels,as well as the designer and co-founder of several Deep Social Networks. Former Executive Director of the Interra Project, he is a co-founder of Ideal Network, a group-buying social enterprise that donates a percentage of every purchase to a non-profit or school.  Ideal Network is a certified B-Corp that was recognized as “Best in the World for Community” in 2012 by B-Labs. He is also the designer and co-founder of the Compassionate Action Network International,[an organization based in Seattle, that led the effort to make the city the first in the world to affirm Karen Armstrong‘s Charter for Compassion. Ramer is also the songwriter and lead guitarist in the band Once And For All.

How did you first become interested in social change?

My interest in social change has been a part of my life since I was a kid. I had the sense that things were out of balance; and then I learned that the only way they would change was if we did something about it. I never felt complaining was enough, I felt call to get involved, myself, directly.

How do you define social justice?

For me social justice means ensuring that everybody has an equal opportunity and a fair chance to participate as I do.  In the Jewish tradition there’s a phrase Tikkun O’lam which means to mend, heal and transform that world.  This has guided me through my life journey.

What has been your most exciting experience as an activist?

My most exciting experiences as an activist has been watching our local Seattle efforts evolve to become an international campaign. Through the connectivity of the Internet, the realization and awakening to the fact that so many of us are engaged and wanting to participate in creating a world that works for all of us.

I had the good fortune to work closely with Paul Hawken and others in developing Wiser Earth which is now and was connected to his book Blessed Unrest.  Like Paul I was awestruck at the number of individuals, groups, and organizations around the world that are rising up and working for just and lasting change. These moments of insight and realization of our connectedness has been my most exciting experiences.

What is the most interesting project in which you are currently involved?

The most interesting project I’m currently working on is the Compassion Games: Survival of the Kindest. This came as a result of a relationship the city of Seattle’s is building with other cities around the world in particular Louisville Kentucky and their mayor who’s a remarkable leader that challenged us and other cities to dethrone them as the most compassionate city in the world by performing more hours and acts of community service than they performed.

We are reframing the idea of survival of the fittest to be the survival of the kindest. I think is creative, and an inspiring “culture hack” that I consider this the most interesting project I’m currently involved with.  I think the notion of compassion, i.e. empathy into action, and the idea of starting from within is very much aligned with the vision for a better world that I hold and am pursuing. As I see it, this cannot happen from just the top down it requires the bottom up, outside in, and inside out.

What is your vision for a better world?

The vision that I hold is that the elders awaken to support the youth; and provide them with the air time to share their voice, opportunities and resources that are desperately needed to make the shift happen.  In this way we as a community get to coalesce together to turn what we have into what we need to create a better world.

I’m committed to working on issues related to “intergenerational equity” by working with youth and ensuring that indigenous voices can heard and appreciated. Here is the project we started called Young Partners in Development – Empowered Youth, Empowering Society.

Through an event we produced, the Seeds of Compassion, I had the good fortune to build a working relationship with a Hereditary Chief, Phil Lane Jr. He and I wrote a paper on Deep Social Networks and the Digital Fourth Way that lays out this fusion of social networks with ancient indigenous wisdom and science. You can find the paper here.

What are your plans for the future?

To be present and responsive to what comes my way like your invitation!