ITHACA GETS DOWN

I am on the road, HARD, these days, but everyday, no matter h-o-w exhausting, only energizes me more. WHY, you ask? Because everyday I see staggeringly amazing, bold fresh, wicked smart and wolverine aggressive agents of love and change, IN ACTION.

Case in point—today I’m in Ithaca, NY—one of my favorite cities. I’ve been coming here for 15 years…first to speak annually at the Hotel School up at Cornell, but over the years I have hit just about every corner of Tompkins County, and met hundreds of compassionate, hard working citizens who take making this corner of the world better, VERY serious.

I started the day at a gathering of 160 nonprofits to talk about OUR work, OUR future, THEIR state and THIS country. As one of the 36 states that will be electing governors in 2010, I really want to help NY nonprofits get to the point where ANY candidate for office WORKS to earn their votes (like the Labor and Tory parties did just recently with NGO’s in the UK).

On that quest, and over the past few months, I’ve been out to Long Island, up in Albany, over in White Plains and in a few weeks I’ll be back up in Syracuse, pitching UNITY and the V3 Campaign with abandon. BUT…what made this gathering so very exciting was that the audience included the ED of the Chamber of Commerce, a former Mayor and sitting City Council members, which is very rare, and indicates that my faith in the citizens of Ithaca has not been misplaced.

We spent over an hour after my presentation having one of the boldest community dialogues about the future I’ve been engaged in. Mark my words, Man….NY State will be out front in 2010.

But the real highlight of this trip, and a huge honor was being asked to keynote at the awards dinner for Challenge Industries, one of the country’s most amazing organizations. They have a business–Finger Lakes Fresh–that is off the hook, and it’s a premiere example of an “ALL people have a role” social enterprise—PLEASE…it is so very amazing…rather than me yacking, please just check out their website. But don’t stand too close to the screen–they are so hot you might get burned.

Anyway…the award ceremony was really, truly powerful…and I grabbed my new friend Robert, who won a “Perseverance Award” for a quick interview. We’re headed to LA together, so watch out America.