New Radicals Button

On Tuesday, April 15th, a multitude of people came together at the Gardiner Museum of Ceramics in celebration of the touted tome entitled “We are The New Radicals: A Manifesto for Reinventing Yourself and Saving the World.” The author, Julia Moulden, a five-foot-something dynamo exhibited an energy for this idea as vibrant as the red lipstick she sports.

Upon arrival at Jamie Kennedy’s restaurant at the Gardiner, everyone was pinned with a small button carrying a rather large statement: “I’m a New Radical!” It was a simple way to break common ground amongst a diverse group, allowing attendees to appreciate a greater reason for being there; not just to support the author’s accomplishment, but also to acknowledge our inner “Radicals.”

Even the namesake chef, the co-host of the party, spoke of himself as a newly minted Radical, although his “radicalism” can be traced back to his first days in the food business, since the ideas of “local” and “organic” are ones that he has long championed. How he’s played that out within his career is the interesting part.

The concept is simple: A New Radical refers to someone in the business of doing good – in other words, social entrepreneurs or people with a social purpose business. The concept is also sector-neutral. As Moulden puts it: “Doing good can mean more than volunteering and philanthropy. How we earn our living can become the way we give back.”

The book is a series of personal stories from people who, mid-life, realized that something’s gotta give, but instead of making the outrageous car purchase, decided that fundamental transformation was needed. New Radicals are people who integrate their passion into their day jobs. By so doing, New Radicals themselves are a very passionate bunch.

The trend to do good extends beyond baby boomers. In fact, the next generation may render the mid-life crisis obsolete, since many are opting to carve out a path from the get-go that acknowledges their diverse interests and creativity. Making money and doing good at the same time? It’s hard to think that the two have been disconnected for so long.

Does this mean a new working world is on the horizon where suits and Birkenstocks would be worn by the same person? Potentially. Clothing analogies aside, the sense is that we are at the proverbial tipping point, and the “something” that’s gotta give this time is the system itself. The more Radicals in the system, the more vibrant the system will be.

For more information on the book and the Company of New Radicals, visit the We Are The New Radicals website and check out this great article by Carol Goar, “Catalyst for middle-aged radicals”.

Lisa Torjman

Lisa managed social innovation projects for the Social Innovation Generation (SiG@MaRS) program at MaRS. See more…