December 4, 2015

Social Entrepreneurship in Action: IDEA visits Rustbelt Reclamation & Chateau Hough

Heather Frutig is a candidate in the full-time MBA program.

There are many things that I enjoy about Weatherhead: small cohort size, really easy access to professors, some truly amazing classmates and the plethora of inspiring speakers. But, my most favorite things, and I think this can be extrapolated to Cleveland, in general, are the opportunities for involvement in and the interconnection between organizations. There are so many great organizations and initiatives that want help and a simple demonstration of interest can set the wheels rolling.

One such organization that I’m involved with is the Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship Association (IDEA), one of the many student clubs at Weatherhead. As a president of IDEA, I have a ton of leeway to come up with event content. My co-president, Nate Swift, and I, along with our faculty advisor, Michael Goldberg, have hosted panels on topics ranging from bio-mimicry to Cuban entrepreneurship and speakers from as far away as China and Silicon Valley and as close as American Greetings.

One of my favorite events, though, was a field trip to Rustbelt Reclamation and Chateau Hough. Nate and I took a group of students to tour both facilities as a way to learn more about social entrepreneurship. Rustbelt Reclamation upcycles wood reclaimed from around the country into unique and site specific furniture and installations. Chateau Hough is a vineyard in the Hough neighborhood of Cleveland that sits on reclaimed land and hires marginalized workers such as parolees who might otherwise struggle to find consistent and reliable work. Both Brinton Lincoln of Rustbelt Reclamation and Mansfield Frazier of Chateau Hough were incredibly generous with their time, space and advice. I know I came away inspired by the work these organizations do.

The idea for the field trip started last semester when Scot Lowry, president and CEO of Fathom Marketing, spoke in my management perspectives class about The Purpose Capital, which is a local organization that he helped start that is working to position Cleveland at the forefront of the Purpose Economy, a term coined by the author Aaron Hurst in his book of the same name. This movement is based on the “indisputable evidence that integrating more personal connections, growth and service into a career or into the mission of an organization results in highly empowered people and teams that flourish on all levels." Both Rustbelt Reclamation and Chateau Hough were named as role model organizations by The Purpose Capital, along with many other local organizations.

This appreciative and powerful mission was something Nate and I wanted to witness ourselves and expose others to and, because of our roles with IDEA and because of the connections we and Weatherhead have within the community, we were able to take a group to meet these leaders and see their operations. This is exactly the type of involvement that I find so refreshing about Weatherhead and Cleveland.

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