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Painters, Activists & Engineers at the Clinton Global Initiative

By Rob Meloche

On the last evening of The Clinton Global Initiative, I ended up chatting with the following three people: a painter who uses his art to teach children in Mexico about tolerance and peace, a small business loan officer who works for a community development organization in Harlem, and an engineer who is piloting a solar lantern program for people living in poverty in Pakistan. These weren’t keynote speakers or commitment presenters, just people I happened to sit next to in the hotel lobby.

While I was thrilled to be in the breakout session when we shared our commitment update from the stage (see Banking on Education), so much of the power of CGI is in these hotel lobby and hallway moments. In fact, CGI is a bit like UrbanSpoon on the iPhone. You take people who are working to make the world more just, people with political and social influence, and people with access to significant resources and…shake. What pops up is often just the right fit, the right partnership. And even if not, it’s cool to know that those people (or those restaurants) are out there. To know that they too are trying to create social change and ease the world’s suffering.

Even if you didn’t have the great privilege of attending, please know that you are a part of that work – that you’re in the app. As individuals, problems like poverty, disease and climate change can seem insurmountable. But every time you give, every time you volunteer, every time you tell the story of why you care about these things, you’re in the mix. And you’re not going it alone.

A quote in the conference materials from Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai, who I had the tremendous honor to meet while there, reads as follows, “And if every one of us did something little…that little action multiplied several million times will make a difference.”


If you were there or watched online, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the annual meeting. Just click the comments link below.

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