First Power's Donna Morton teaches marginalized youth social entrepreneurship

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“We’re meaning, we’re story, and we’re beauty-seeking creatures,” she said; SunDrum “talks to young people about cultivating their inner artist…about focusing on the problems that they think are the most egregious in their communities, and then pointing their gifts and their love and their passions at solving those problems through business…. You awaken a person, you stir a person, through art. Through story. Through the senses.” Morton naturally understands what researchers are beginning to recognize.

Best-selling author and business thought leader Seth Godin said, “What people do, quite naturally, is if it’s work they try and figure out how to do less. If it’s art they try and figure out how to do more.” The social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, in his book The Happiness Hypothesis, writes that many people report experiencing feelings of self-transcendence while “viewing great art, hearing a symphony, or listening to an inspiring speaker," and that these are often life-changing and transformative experiences.

These transformative experiences are happening with youth participants at SunDrum. One participant said SunDrum “inspired me…and made me want to start a business.” “I love that people make art into businesses,” said another.

First Nations youth learning about social entrepreneurship through art and games at SunDrum.

Art is an antidote to the travails of the human heart, and when we create or witness true art we achieve a brief respite from our individual struggles, and instead feel, for an instant, connected to something greater than ourselves. As I spoke with Morton, it started to make more sense to me that she so quickly labeled her chief characteristic as “Artist.” Social entrepreneurs are artists. They create entities – businesses – that do not merely seek individual gratification through profits, but have at their core the mission to better the station of their brothers and sisters – of humanity. And in so doing, they, like artists, make us feel connected to something greater than ourselves.

I thank Donna Morton – the artist-social entrepreneur – for making me realize this.

To learn more about SunDrum and how you can donate to its cause, see the website. If you're interested in bringing the SunDrum program to your community or school, click here.

The Proust Questionnaire – with Donna Morton

1) Your favourite virtue?

Donna: Kindness.

2) Your favourite qualities in a man?

Donna: Presence.

3) Your favourite qualities in a woman?

Donna: Spirit.

4) Your chief characteristic?

Donna: Artist.

5) What do you appreciate most in your friends?

Donna: Acceptance.

6) Your main fault?

Donna: Imbalance.

7) Your favourite occupation? What do you like doing most?

Donna: Storytelling.

8) Your idea of happiness.

Donna: Experiences in nature.

9) Your idea of misery?

Donna: Being bought.

10) Your idea of success?

Donna: Freedom.

11) What do you hate most?

Donna: I think meanness; callousness; indifference.

12) Natural talent you’d like to be gifted at?

Donna: I’d like to be a genius gardener.

13) How do you wish to die?

Donna: At peace.

14) What’s your present state of mind?

Donna: Contemplative.

15) For what fault have you the most tolerance?

Donna: I try to be tolerant of ignorance -- people just not getting it, not being exposed to it.

16) What’s your favourite motto.

Donna: Intergenerational equity.

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