Seeds of Hope

It’s New Year’s and I’m filled with hopeful stories I heard at a Compassionet gathering I attended this week. About 12 of us gathered with Srinivas Sukumar at Rudite Emir’s house in Mountain View. Sukumar was a client of mine at HP in the 1990’s—head of strategic planning for the labs, and is now the Community Program Manager for the CAL IT2 Institute at UC San Diego, having “retired” a few years ago. I went to India with him in 1998 to do strategic visioning for a Chinmaya Mission school in Coimbatore and we have been close colleagues ever since. Compassionet is a circle of his friends that all share an interest in spiritual matters combined with work in service of the community.

We meet a couple of times a year when Sukumar is back in the Bay Area from San Diego, and we’re beginning to deepen the threads that connect us. I’d like to share some of the things that inspired me when we recently crossed paths.

Compassionette - Seeds of Hope


Center for Leadership, Innovation and Change (CLIC
Prasad Kaipa, son of a Hindu brahmin steeped in traditional Vedanta teachings, is a management consultant intent on bringing the wisdom traditions to bear on business. He’s left his successful North American practice for the most part to help start a Center for Leadership Innovation and Change at the Indian School of Business, now ranked 20th in the world among business schools.

“We are teaching the three fold way of Vedanta, where head, heart, and body are working together,” he explained as he shared what he’s been up to this last year. “The head or mind is the source of innovation. But change must be felt in the heart to sustainable, and leadership is really all about walking the talk and embodying one’s intention.”

He’s engaging his students in a balanced pursuit of all three and is very excited about the progress he is making. He’s recruiting visiting faculty to come for several weeks or a year and teach.

Cal IT2
The University of California has four science institutes, one of which is the CALIT2 supported by UC San Diego and UC Irvine. It focuses on information technology and telecommunication, led by Ramish Rao. Sukumar met him after moving to San Diego to begin a Chinmaya Mission there with his wife Lakshmi, and found himself on the faculty as head of an India/US bride project. This ran into bureaucratic barriers that were too high and Suk’s work has now focused locally, working with the disadvantaged African American communities in San Diego. He works with Mike Cole, a professor expert in cognitive psychology who has guided the development of a service learning approach that marshals all the resources of UCSD to help the community. Students are immersed in fieldwork that gets evaluated and have to write summary papers on learning’s. Sukumar and the team are seeing real shifts in students going to through this program, and hopes the current of interest generated by the Obama campaign will lead to further growth in this approach.

Global Collaboratory
Syed Shariq is director of the Kozmetsky Global Collabortory at Stanford. It was funded by George Kozmetsky, founder of Teledyne, to establish a program linking researchers at Stanford and the University of Texas to conduct research on how technology can be used to enhance global prosperity. Stanford’s Department of Communication and the university’s Media X program will collaborate with the University of Texas’ Institute for Innovation, Creativity and Capital (IC2) to develop ways to foster successful business ventures rapidly in developing countries.

Shariq’s journey has taken him down many exciting since he began in 2003, but the most recent one is amazing. “Our community has been affected by our work. We are now working on how to reconcile people’s inner and outer paths, through what we calls Venture Design.” Shariq said.  They have recruited PhD. students and involved them in deep inner work in the context of very focused dissertations dealing with village development. They are on working on topics like “oneness,” “hope,” “ethics,” and “love.”  Working with an “ecologies of three” concept where triads work together, they are experiencing a depth of inquiry and change that is remarkable. “The students and we are realizing we clearly have to heal ourselves to be instruments of change.” Shariq said.

Quantified Self Meetup Group
Brinda Dalal reported on having joined Kevin Kelly in a Quantified Self Meetup Group, now about 130 people who have agreed to measure themselves in depth in regard to health and other factors and then track progress and learning. Brinda has been involved with Xerox in anthropological research and ecology for years, and can imagine this project moving about beyond strictly health related data. She’s deeply interested in how the way digital natives keep up with each other with a torrent of snippet-like information, and even knows some people who are “life streaming” using as many as eight video cams in their home.

The Stop—Toronto Gourmet Soup Kitchen
Laila Emir, Rudite Emir’s daughter, came and checked in, and really touched me with a story of a friend of hers who is transforming a soup kitchen operation in Toronto with locally grown food, excellent recipes, and a belief that everyone should be treated with real dignity. The Stop is become a real phenomenon, and a great example of the re-localization of the food system that will have to occur as transportation becomes prohibitively costly in the context of peak oil. The Stop is headed up by Joshna Maharaj. Check their web site, The Stop!

I came away from the gathering with a strong feeling of hope. If these kinds of things are growing in this small group, what is happening in the larger world! We all agreed to meet more often.

  • Avatar
    Ronald Kalemberwa
    February 10, 2009 Reply

    please David iwould like to get more from you such that you help me in my organization i have already started in my mother village here in Uganda and any one who can be interested in supporting us as youth can inform us on our email address “” thank you.

  • Avatar
    Ronald Kalemberwa
    February 10, 2009 Reply

    in fact for us in Africa we lack knowledge about what can develop us as young people but we have got the capacity to deal with our communities given a chance and support. so in giving suc information can help us know how we can handle and develop our communities.
    thank you David for your info.
    I am a student at the University Of Mbarara University Of science and Technology In Uganda.

  • Avatar
    David Wick
    January 2, 2009 Reply

    Hi David, a blessed new year to you, as well as your close in, and extended family! Thank you for sharing the above information, especially about Prasad, “a while ago” friend. What he is developing aligns perfectly with my major projects which are:
    • Silver Light International – linking China, the US, and other countries through business and education (Our sister company click on English at the top).
    • The Real Life Training Group – providing education/training in The Leadership Growth Series with a partnership and academic credit with the School of Business, Southern Oregon University
    • TBL 21 Initiative – The Triple Bottom Line for the 21st Century – People, Planet, Profits, an education and consulting non-profit focused in Southern Oregon. This is based on the years of inquiry through PeaceBuilding through Business and Peace Within Organizations, and is a project of Pathways to Peace (
    • And, Silver Light Publications & Silver Cloud Press – “A Bold Voice: We publish and promote literary art that advocates, provokes, and inspires, positive change to all those who seek to live in peace.” our publishing company (
    They are all interconnected, and I see a real synergy with what Prasad is doing. Yes, there is real reason for hope! Certainly there is challenge and difficulty before us, and that makes it all the more compelling to do what we are called to do. Now is the time, here is the place!
    David Wick

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