In each community Loom engages, we discover extraordinary people. They have emerged from the same circumstances as those around them. Some were refugees from wars, others were orphans, others knew the nightly pain of going to bed hungry. Some walked miles to school and never saw a library until they were a teenager. Yet they are powerful. They see the world differently. They see their own ability differently. The struggle of their lives created in them a rare power and hope. This is why they are extraordinary.
For ten years, we have searched for the right words to communicate what makes these extraordinary leaders unique. First, Loom used the term Caregiver, coming from our flagship training, the Celebrating Children Workshop. But “it didn’t take long for us to realize these ‘caregivers’ were the ones who needed to lead – the people we needed to learn from,” says Janna Moats. “They were the Local Experts. They know best what is happening in the community, the day to day struggles of families and children and they have solutions.”
This realization quickly led Loom to adopt the term “Local Expert.” But as we traveled, listened, sat with, and questioned our friends – which is our most common reference to them – “we realized they are much more than experts,” concludes Janna. “They are always creative, flexible, steadfast, honest, teachable, smart and sacrificial. What they accomplish in a few years is beyond imagination for us.”
They are Social Innovators: those who look at the seemingly impossible and engage with wholehearted commitment to bring change. They seek integrated solutions to build thriving sustainable communities. They are willing to face head on “how things have always been done” and to disrupt fatalistic value systems and thinking to make authentic impact.
As Loom has evolved in our understanding, so has the language we have used. However we speak about our partners, what we are really trying to communicate is the sheer power and wonder they contain. It flows from them in a keen attunement to the pain and the potential of their own communities, sustained by a tenacious empathy rooted in the pain of their own past.
All over the world, there are Social Innovators who are pouring their lives out unnoticed, unsung, and unrewarded. All over the world, there are children growing up in the midst of seemingly insurmountable odds who just might be the next Social Innovator to change their community. We can’t imagine a greater privilege than working together to accelerate their vision and hopes; seeing them enter into this power and wonder as their irrepressible birthright for the generations to come.