Weekly Roundup: Protesters, B-Corps and More Protesters

December 16th, 2011 2:44 PM  By 

This originally appeared in Dowser.org.

TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year – The Protester

TIME magazine made an apt choice for person of the year, as rural protesters in China are now joining the likes of Occupy Wall Street, the Arab Spring, and the Anna Hazare movement in India.  2011 seems to have been about the power of the everyday citizen, with groups around the globe using collective action and technology to push for social change.  TIME magazine examined the year of the protester with an essay on the Arab Spring — the movement that began in Tunisia, toppled several dictators, revived hopes, and, sadly, took many lives as well.  While there have been countless other demonstrations in the world, including the Occupy Wall Street protests in the US, the essay suggests that those in the Middle East and North Africa have proven to be the most risky and noteworthy. #One OWS protester concurs: “I think other parts of the world,” says Frank Castro, 53, a Teamster who drives a cement mixer for a living and helped occupy Oakland, Calif., “have more balls than we do.”

Those in Bahrain, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, and Tunisia are fighting regimes without any democratic principles, meaning that many protesters have been attacked, hurt, and imprisoned for expressing their views.  Even in India, another developing nation that’s seen scores of citizens on its streets, the safety net of a democratic government has prevented serious attacks like we’ve seen in the MENA region.

Just as TIME declared the protester, person of the year, another wave of protests – this time in China –  erupted.  The revolt in Wukan, China started over land distribution, something that the government still arbitrates.  20,000 villagers participated, demanding greater rights.  China has seen exponential growth in its urban centers, but the wealth and government support hasn’t been extended to rural areas.  The protesters’ complaints range from corruption to environmental degradation to land ownership.  The Chinese government seems to has removed any information on the protests from the web, according to the BBC.

The most recent reports suggest that the Chinese have stopped a real estate project in the area that was about to begin, yielding to local demands after the death of one of the farmers involved.

NY Adopts B-Corp Title

Want to do business and have a social impact in NYC? Now you can with new legal protection. This week, New York has joined other states like California in distinguishing certain businesses with the B Corp, or benefit corporation, title. The B Corp designation allows businesses to pursue a social and environmental mission alongside a financial one.  Forbes interviewed B Lab consultant Andrew Greenblatt who explained: “In the old paradigm you could get sued if you didn’t maximize shareholder value. In the new paradigm you can get sued if you’re a benefit corporation and you don’t pursue your social mission while maximizing profit.” #

To be a B Corp, companies have to assess their social and environmental impact publicly. Six other states already carry the law.  Gov. Cuomo signed the legislation this week and it will go into effect in 60 days.

Weekend Reads:

  • Forbes’ Top 30 Social Entrepreneurs List doesn’t actually include social enterprises.  Rather, they’re largely non-profits, not market-based solutions, explains Godelnik on TriplePundit.
  • The social enterprise world has far too many consultants and not enough actual entrepreneurs, argues Lane-Zucker in a compelling commentary on the social enterprise sphere.
  • McKinsey announces winners for videos on social innovation, with Embrace taking the lead.
  • The New Yorker gives us 10 positive stories on Africa.  Feeling glum?  Take a look at these highlights from 2011, illustrating that change — and progress — is occurring, albeit slowly.
  • A new (and fascinating) map that looks at the “dencity” of our planet.

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