February 2018 – Caitlin White
As the youngest person on the Crave advisory board, I look a lot more like a Crave Leader than your traditional “board member.” Good news: this is no traditional board! The team of advisors and mentors that help to guide the vision of Crave is as alive with innovation, spiritual curiosity, and entrepreneurship as any I’ve experienced, so it was a natural choice to include many young leaders on the team that would shape this incubator for other Millenials.
Crave is rooted in the knowledge that age never defines wisdom, just like religious affiliation never defines true spiritual connection. From founder Michele Van Son to our advisors, from Crave’s current Leaders to community partners, everyone at Crave is on a journey of self-development, listening, and spiritual awakening.
As a young, female pastor who likes to stay on the leading edge of spiritual innovation, I got involved with Crave because it breaks the old mold and the established rules. Conventionally, churches and religious groups “support the local community” by offering a service they can control or by giving resources to efforts they can approve of (and eventually colonize). Often this results in a bait and switch: the church gives to the community in hopes of connecting with new people, evangelizing them, and teaching them about spirituality. Crave does the opposite. We believe that something good, life-giving, and inherently spiritual is already at work when people do meaningful work, meet needs in their community, and gather people around common purpose. So we say, “Look at that inspiring thing you are doing. Please come evangelize us to your way of thinking. Teach us something new. Help us to meet the needs of the people around us like you do.”
For people who are used to the old paradigm, this takes a huge leap of faith and a ton of courage. I learned one of my most important lessons in business and leadership when I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail: the difference between scary and dangerous.
Jim Koch, founder of Sam Adams Brewery, gives the example that rappelling of a cliff is incredibly scary but totally safe. Whereas, skiing across a melting snow field on a sunny day in May is not scary but incredibly dangerous – that’s a recipe for an avalanche, fellow Floridians!
Many of the great entrepreneurs of our time have a background in outdoor recreation and endurance athletics. These pursuits teach lessons that are particularly useful to innovators. I suspect this is because social and business entrepreneurship, just like outdoor recreation, is about risk management, not risk elimination. You can’t control everything. If you did, you’d never be inspired.
The success of innovators, whether in business, community organizing, community building or religion, will hinge on our ability to discern the difference between scary and dangerous — and to guide others through that discernment. Crave puts people in relationships where we explore that line together. Molli Miller, whom I mentor, also mentors me right back. She keeps me connected to fierce bravery by stepping out of her teaching career to start a surf school, to inspiring others through therapeutic athletic experiences and experiential learning, and to transformative vision as she builds a business that is more about giving back to people’s lives than realizing profit.
We need all need community where we can have courageous conversations and relationships with co-conspirators for the journey, and that is the exchange at the heart of Crave.
Advisory Board Member, Mentor