Getting Innovative: Lessons from SwitchPoint 2018

The 7th annual SwitchPoint conference in Saxapahaw, North Carolina set out to provide a space for creative problem-solving for those working on innovative solutions to global issues. The event, which is sponsored by nonprofit organization IntraHealth, featured more than 30 talks about global health, social innovation, and technology trends. Organizers set out to explore what happens when social entrepreneurship meets arts and technology.

MiracleFeet team members Natalia Siegel and Caroline Perkinson attended the two-day conference last month. Here are the top five lessons they took away from the event.woman writes with marker on flipchart paper

1. From Marco Werman of PRI’s The World: Pass the mic.

Make sure you know the needs of the communities your organization serves. Are you considering what they actually need, or what you think they need? Share your power by sharing your platform and “passing the mic” so that those you work with can have a platform.

2. From Jessica Mack of Global Health Corps: Staying hopeful is an act of defiance.

It can be frustrating to face obstacle after obstacle when you are working to change a system. Remember that you can best change a system by learning the system and continuing to try new and creative solutions.

3. From photographer Trevor Snapp: Collaboration is key for visual storytelling. 

Include local storytellers in communities where you work, supporting and learning from them. Since pictures evoke emotions and memories, it’s critical that the images you present to the world don’t rely on stereotypes or contrived narratives, but can tell an authentic story about a subject. Collaborating with local artists helps bring that authentic voice.

attendees in chairs listen as speaker address room from the stage4. From Dr. Roopa Dhatt of Women in Global Health: Representation Matters

Women comprise 75% of global health workers, but only 25% of healthcare leadership roles. A more equitable health workforce will enable us to better address serious health challenges facing our world today.

5. From Elena Arguelles of WeRobotics’ Peru Flying Lab: Involve the community when using new technologies. 

When implementing a program that used drones to deliver medications to remote areas of the Amazon in Peru, it was important that WeRobotics work closely with the community. The drones needed to be easy to operate and easy to repair, so that the local mechanic could fix any problems. The community also had to want the service, particularly important in an area where outsiders are regarded with suspicion.

Read more about innovation and social entrepreneurship at MiracleFeet.