You might call this a very sweet dataset: 159 pounds of apples, 84 pounds of persimmons, 104 pounds of plums, 28 pounds of key limes. Carrie Lange calls it community-centered problem solving. Lange, 17, is the founder of Fruits of Labor, an organization in California’s Bay Area that aspires to “end food insecurity one fresh fruit at a time.” She and her team of “pickers” visit willing neighbors’ yards and clear their fruit trees for donations. And after each session, Carrie logs their latest haul on the Fruits of Labor website. To date, they have donated some 3,000 pounds of fruit to feed needy families in Marin County — and counting.
Carrie joined Wharton Global Youth Program on this month’s Future of the Business World podcast to talk about the process of building her nonprofit, launched in summer 2021, and why she sees herself as a social entrepreneur. Did you know pomegranates have thorns? Be sure to click on the arrow above to listen!
Wharton Global Youth Program: Welcome to Future of the Business World, a podcast featuring teenage innovators with the ideas and initiative to achieve real change.
I’m Diana Drake with the Wharton Global Youth Program at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Wharton Global Youth introduces high school students to business and finance education.
Business makes the world go ‘round. And whether you might someday want to earn a business degree…or like most of us, you just want to understand how business impacts your everyday life, Global Youth has got you covered.
Our podcast is a way to discover business – always connected to youth and innovation. Each month on Future of the Business World, we explore a critical theme: The Entrepreneurial Mindset. Even if you don’t want to start your own business…..you get to hear how an entrepreneur thinks, creates, builds and problem-solves – all essential skills for whatever path you choose.
Today, I’m happy to welcome Carrie Lange, a student from San Anselmo, California. Carrie is the founder of Fruits of Labor, a nonprofit organization supporting Bay Area families by helping to put food on their tables.
Carrie, welcome to Future of the Business World!
Carrie will also be learning with us this summer in our Leadership in the Business World program. We can’t wait to have you and all our summer program students back on Wharton’s Philadelphia campus!
Let’s get to it. When I first read about Fruits of Labor, I immediately thought about the practice of gleaning, which is to collect leftover crops from farmers’ fields and distribute them. I’m not sure if that was your inspiration, but can you tell us how you came up with the idea for your nonprofit and how it works?
Carrie Lange: That’s a bit of a coincidence because I was just looking into You-Pick farms in my area to contact for leftover fruit. That wasn’t my inspiration, but it’s similar. My mom has a green thumb. She loves everything growable. She hasn’t had much success with planting fruit trees, but we do have an older plum and pear tree in our backyard from previous owners. Fun fact about me: I don’t actually like fruit. I’m fully aware of the irony. But these trees always give a ton of fruit year after year that goes to waste. Last summer I was watching my mom force entire bags of fruit onto her friends. I remembered the year before in Spanish we had talked about how COVID had disproportionately hit minority communities in my county and many were suffering from food scarcity. So, I asked my mom if we could donate the fruit to the San Francisco (SF)-Marin Food Bank. On the way, I saw that a lot of people had fruit trees in their yards that were dropping a lot of fruit. I realized that there were a lot of people and families in the same position that we were.
One thing led to another. I posted on Nextdoor Neighbor asking if anyone would be interested in allowing me and some friends into their backyard to pick their fruit and donate it. I ended up with five responses from all over Marin, my county, in two days. We ended up donating 300 pounds of fruit on the first day, which was really encouraging. I kept making posts and gathering friends to go to donors’ houses, which is what we call people who volunteer their trees. On a weekend, we’ll clear them. We bring our own pickers. People usually have ladders that they’re willing to lend us. It could be completely non-contact, and we left as many fruits as people wanted to keep. We load up the car with the fruits and drive them to the SF-Marin Food Bank.
Wharton Global Youth: In economics, we talk about supply and demand. What have you learned about the market need for these homegrown fruits? Is the demand profound? Help us see the human side of what you’re building.
Carrie: That’s a flashback to my AP Macro and Micro test. I remember a time I was dropping off a load of apples to the SF-Marin Food Bank and there was this family there with a little girl who was maybe 5 or 6. She was absolutely adorable. She was eyeing my apples, so I took one out, washed it in the sink and gave it to her. And the way her face lit up hit me really hard. Even bigger, the mother thanked me and she said, “She doesn’t get fresh fruit a lot outside of school.” That was when I was like, yes, I want to continue doing this. There’s this huge need for organic, homegrown fruits and not just for health reasons, though those are really significant. Fresh fruits are such a luxury for many people because they’re produced in such abundance in a single season and they spoil so quickly that not everyone is fortunate enough to have access to fresh fruit year-round.
That’s really important to acknowledge. In America, there are millions of people who may not be able to afford or have access to fresh fruit. I heard a statistic that 108 billion pounds of food is wasted in the entire U.S. per year and 1 in 5 people in my county suffer from food insecurity. Something that adds to the issue here is that a lot of people that struggle to put food on the table for their families, especially during COVID, don’t qualify for governmental checks or food stamps or federal help because their income is just high enough to not qualify. But it’s not nearly high enough to cover the price of rent here and provide food for their families.
Wharton Global Youth: The infrastructure you’ve put in place is interesting to me. It’s very simple and straightforward, as well. Give us an illustration of pickers and an illustration of donors. What do the two sides look like?
Carrie: Donors are families in our neighborhood that have fruit trees with an excess fruit. Pickers are volunteers. They could be my friends. People as young as 12 have been contacting me. They want to become volunteers. Then we go to donors’ houses and volunteer their backyards. We pick and clear their trees. The donors don’t even have to come outside. They can, obviously. We’ve had really nice donors who offer us tea and cookies. That’s always a treat. But we can also go into their backyards with no contact and pick their fruits. Sometimes they’ll ask us to leave some and sometimes they don’t. And then we take them to the food bank.
Wharton Global Youth: The variety of fruits is pretty impressive. I guess that’s a testament to California climate. Apples, pears, persimmons, plums, key limes, lemons: you’ve got it all.
Carrie: Pomegranates were a memorable one. That’s when I learned that pomegranate trees have thorns. It was an interesting discovery.
Wharton Global Youth: How do you ensure the quality of this? Are they just distributed so quickly that they get eaten right away. As you said, they have a short timespan before they spoil. How is the quality ensured?
Carrie: After gathering the fruits, pickers themselves bring the fruits to the SF-Marin Food Bank, where it gets donated and distributed. We’re careful to keep track of the numbers. We’ll know which fruits come from which donor, largely so we can report to the donor, but also so I can make logs on the Fruits of Labor website. Since the fruit is hand-picked and fresh off the tree, then donated within the day, each fruit that we pick before we put them in the bags or in the boxes we weed out all the bad apples (ignore the pun) and then we obviously won’t donate those. The food bank distributes them within enough time that they won’t go bad. Sometimes the fruits are also a little bit underripe, and the good thing about fruits is that if you let them sit even off the tree they’ll ripen themselves. If they’re a little bit underripe, there’s more of a time window for the food bank to distribute them or even cook them into meals.
Wharton Global Youth: It sounds like your partnership with the SF-Marin Food Bank is essential to the success of your social enterprise. Can you talk about how you connected with them and how you were able to forge that partnership?
Carrie: The SF-Marin Food Bank has an amazing outreach program specifically that works with community nonprofits. So, I kept returning to drop off my donations and talking to volunteers and people who were picking up food, and they told me about this outreach program as I became more interested in how the food bank operated on an entrepreneurial level. What I do is quite similar to what the SF-Marin Food Bank does. I reached out over email and began speaking with the senior events and special products manager. It’s been really invaluable because I’ve been able to speak to someone who is practiced in raising awareness for a cause. I’ve learned so much about promoting online just by scrolling through the food bank’s Instagram and reaching out to people who may be interested in becoming donors. I’ve been able to get advice in events and fundraising games I can start once the season begins to pick up. I have an idea for a guessing game online or at a fundraising fair where people guess how many pounds of fruit I’ve gathered in that one day and then they donate one dollar for every pound they’re off and the winner gets a free pie or the fruit donated to the SF-Marin Food Bank in their name. A lot of the latest ideas I’ve gotten to expand Fruits of Labor are inspired by conversations with the members of the SF-Marin Food Bank and things that the organization has done.
Wharton Global Youth: Speaking of pounds of fruit, the season will be in full swing by the time you get back from Wharton this summer. Do you have lots of fruit donors lined up? What is your picking time looking like?
Carrie: I’m really excited for this season. First of all, a lot of my past donors have emailed me expressing interest in being donors again, which is a good 20 houses from at least seven different neighborhoods all over Marin. Last year, one woman had an actual apple orchard in her backyard. There are five ginormous trees. No matter how hard we tried last year we couldn’t really seem to clear the apples completely out. This year we’re getting a jump on the season. I have a ton more volunteers who are willing and want to help out. I’ve been opening branches in neighborhoods with friends who live in them who are willing to become heads and help me out a bit. I’m optimistic for this year. I’m hoping to at least triple the 3,000 pounds we donated last year.
Wharton Global Youth: What has surprised you through this process of building your nonprofit? Innovators often start with an idea and then it gains momentum, and you find yourself needing more than a framework; you need serious operational skills. Just looking at the bigger picture, I see…the scheduling of pickers, I see making connections with families in your fruit network, I see lots of data in all those apples and pears. How have you risen to the business challenge and honed your leadership skills?
Carrie: Yes, I found that there is a massive challenge with organization. The most surprising thing about creating Fruits of Labor is the response I’ve gotten from my community. It’s proven in a way that I’ve been able to donate the 3,000 pounds of fruit despite starting Fruits of Labor pretty late in the season last summer when I got back from summer plans.
The way I’ve been able to grow my organizational and leadership skills as Fruits of Labor has evolved is because so many people in my community have really taken an interest in Fruits of Labor, whether that’s in becoming donors or sending emails about places I can reach out to to help raise awareness or even just reach out to become a donor. One woman emailed me about contacting a local university that has fruit trees on its campus that might be interested in donating. The thing that helped me the most is realizing that I’m going to need to be able to evolve. I’m always learning from experiences, from people, from flaws in my various ideas. For example, I created a flyer because a woman asked me if I could send her something she could post around her older-generational neighborhood who weren’t on the Internet as much. I really had to learn how to adapt to people, whether that’s organizing events, promoting and catching and holding people’s attentions and just scheduling picking days. Fruits of Labor has taught me the value of building relationships with donors and volunteers and reaching out really early to make sure that no one is scrambling, if and when someone contacts me with fruit trees. I’ve been able to learn and grow through a good number of missteps and improve both as a leader and an innovative thinker.
“We really have to go to the root of racial and class inequalities to make enough lasting change, and that means addressing them as a collective issue.” – Carrie Lange, Founder, Fruits of Labor
Wharton Global Youth: Do you consider yourself a social entrepreneur?
Carrie: If you go by definition of a social entrepreneur, then yes I would consider myself a social entrepreneur. Fruits of Labor is nonprofit, but I did create it not only to alleviate food inequity in Marin County but also raise awareness for the social inequities under the surface. The interesting thing about my community is that while we have a reputation for being high class and things like that, there’s a really large population of people who are struggling financially. Marin is so segregated on a structural level that people aren’t aware of the extent to which other families are struggling simply because they live in another neighborhood.
For example, we have a neighborhood called the Canal. The majority of occupants are immigrants. A large portion of those people struggle to make ends meet and rely on supportive organizations like food banks to provide for themselves and their families. So many people simply don’t know that the Canal exists. Or if they do, the extent of the social gap between it and other neighborhoods, like Tiburon in Marin, is understated. I think Marin wants to change. The overwhelming response to Fruits of Labor is proof that people here genuinely want to help. That’s another reason why I’m so persistent in continuing to grow Fruits of Labor. I can use it as a platform to raise awareness for the distinct class gap and maybe kickstart more movements in my community that strive to close the divide.
Wharton Global Youth: Has Fruits of Labor awakened your innovative spirit in other ways? Where else might innovation improve the situation?
Carrie: Fruits of Labor did start pretty casually. It’s something I started with one or two friends over the summer. But then more and more people became interested in being donors and I realized how necessary Fruits of Labor was to the community and toward fighting for equality. The picking season ended soon after I started Fruits of Labor, minus a few outliers. We did have a persimmons trip in December that was really cold. That was pretty memorable.
I didn’t get the chance to develop Fruits of Labor into what I wanted it to be. But then a couple months ago I was talking with a senior, one of my friends, who has a lot of experience in creating nonprofits and fundraisers and she gave me a ton of amazing advice and suggestions. This season I reached out to a number of philanthropic organizations in my area to help me promote and give advice. I obviously reached out to the SF-Marin Food Bank. I connected to some newspapers, I had a KCBS radio interview a month or so ago that got me some new donors. I also really started utilizing social media, which is something that I need to be more consistent about now that picking season is coming back in (@fruits_of.labor). And I’m also thinking about getting on Tik Tok, but I don’t know how effective that would be.
As I mentioned, I do have plans to reach out to You-Pick farms in my area once they open to see if they ever have leftover fruit that I can come over and pick up. Those are some areas of improvement that I’ve been thinking about.
Wharton Global Youth: While you’re doing this on a local level, hunger is a global crisis. What broader insights have you learned about food insecurity that you think might inform how you make decisions and solve problems in the future?
Carrie: Well, as you said, food insecurity is on a global level. It’s so interconnected with so many other social issues, like race and class. That interconnectedness is my biggest takeaway when I’m brainstorming ways to work toward solving these types of issues. You really can’t think of them as separate concepts. It’s obviously a little daunting, but I think we have to start tackling these issues as one collective problem. That’s the only way we’re going to make lasting change. There could be a few steps forward in one area. But while we’re hyperfocused on that specific area of inequality, another area could be taking several steps back. If you want to use the metaphor of supply and demand: the economy doesn’t grow until long-run supply increases and that means an increase in the root number of products available for production. So otherwise, the economy will just adjust back to the quantity where we started and sometimes even with higher prices. We really have to go to the root of racial and class inequalities to make enough lasting change, and that means addressing them as a collective issue.
Wharton Global Youth: A question I ask all of our guests on Future of the Business World is if you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
Carrie: I would make people pay more attention to current events and social issues. With more awareness, comes more forces and more calls for change. I would never have started Fruits of Labor if leaders of the Canal Alliance didn’t come speak to my Spanish class about the class divide and the way COVID lockdown affected minority communities in my county. My generation is so passionate and so vocal in general. I truly believe that people my age want to see social change and we want to help and get involved in this world we’ve been given. Like I said, I had 12-year-olds contacting me interested in being pickers.
But as a generation, we’re so exposed to so many issues that sometimes we feel overwhelmed and we don’t really know what we can do to make that change. Both because we’re young and there’s so much we want to change. The greatest thing about Fruits of Labor is that I’m able to show kids that there are ways that we can make a difference. The key ingredient in improving social issues such as inequality — and not just in food but in class and gender and race — is really just going for it: Helping each other help people. It’s collaboration, brainstorming and just going for it and seeing what you can make out of the resources you’re given and the opportunities that you have.
Wharton Global Youth: Let’s wrap up with our lightning round. What would we catch you binge-watching at midnight?
Carrie: Madame Secretary. It’s on Netflix. It’s very good.
Wharton Global Youth: What’s your favorite fruit?
Carrie: Tomatoes! It’s a copout, but yes.
Wharton Global Youth: Finish this sentence: In 10 years, I hope to be…?
Carrie: Proud of my achievements and the difference I’ve made.
Wharton Global Youth: What is your everyday superpower?
Carrie: Officially, time management. Unofficially, my ability to complete a Rubik’s Cube. I’m very proud of that one.
Wharton Global Youth: You are the new host of a business-themed talk show. Who is your first guest and why?
Carrie: Marillyn Hewson. Partly because she is a really accomplished woman in the business world and I would love to learn everything I can from her. This talk show would be an excuse to fangirl and steal ideas. Also, because my dad was vice president of Lockheed’s international operations, which is the company that Marillyn Hewson works for. He never got the chance to tell me about his experience working in the business field and managing for Lockheed and I think Marillyn Hewson would be able to fill in gaps and answer questions I have.
Wharton Global Youth: Carrie, I wish you the best of luck with Fruits of Labor and look forward to seeing you on the Wharton campus this summer. Thank you for joining us on Future of the Business World.
Yes, I completely agree with the speaker’s point about food scarcity as a result of covid. The pandemic caused massive unemployment, resulting in market failure. However, the economy recovered as a result of the government’s welfare programs and subsidies. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, a slew of civil society organizations has stepped up to provide humanitarian aid. Because India is known for its agricultural sector, which generates a lot of revenue through exports, the economic impact was massive. With the collapse of purchasing power and the continuation of many restrictions, the economic crisis lasted long after the national lockdown. Furthermore, there was a significant disruption in public services, including nutrition-related services – midday meals, in particular, were discontinued as schools and childcare centers were closed in most states for the majority of 2020. Non-Covid health services were also drastically reduced during and after the lockdown.
Personally, the best part of the Fruit for Labor concept that I particularly liked was the collaboration opportunities you received from the food bank, as I could relate to it as well as learn more about how to reach out to other organizations. The mission and vision sound similar, and any non-profit organization can benefit from an outreach program. I picked up this because, as a non-profit founder, I’m always looking for ways to collaborate with other organizations and help more people! Thank you, Ms. Drake and Carrie, for inspiring me!
Our generation of teenagers is very much exposed to the current social issues around the world due to the advancement of technology. As a result, we’re easily accessible to the news and aware of the hundred and thousands of threatening global crises that seek solutions. As Carrie mentioned, people genuinely want to help, but we’re unsure of where to start and what actions to take. There is so much we want to change, but not enough platforms or innovative thinkers to take the initiative. The ultimate solution to conquering these problems from the root really nail-downs to the leaders in different communities. It’s crucial for them to step up and lead different parts of society as a collaborative whole to make long-term changes.
The solution to tackle hundreds of food scarcity battles starts with one ample spirit and one fresh apple.
Oh God! I love the way Carrie recognized the issue in her county, food hunger, and also the predicament in the world these days, inequalities. It’s merely impressive how she developed her idea and realized it. I love someone who is really willing to contribute to the communities like Carrie. I believe Carrie is gonna be a world changer! With a brilliant idea, ‘interconnectedness,’ and her willingness to better the community, Carrie has made the life of lots of people better not through materials, like apples, but through her compassion, wholeheartedness, and passion.
I think, in every part of the world, food hunger is really an issue, especially when the Covid-19 appears in every corner of the planet. Unemployment, financial burden, quarantines, trade embargo on Russia (decreases the Fuel supply and thus discourages people from using shipping system),… All of these affect people’s minds about whether to purchase fruits or not. And that is also why I think food distribution might seem unequal.
I agree this is a global-scale issue, but in some ‘second-world’ countries, inequalities in education access, quality, and outcome are to be more problematic. I’m now working for Passerelles numeriques Vietnam (PNV) as an intern. What I really love at PNV is that they focus on sustainable goals. They offer free-of-charge, 3-year IT education programs (as in my country, IT access is really limited in remote areas) for the underserved ethnic students. And of course, I love doing this a favor. Education is kinda the most crucial determinant to one’s success and, further, a nation’s prosperity. If I could, I would rather choose to dispel all the inequalities in education first. For me, I think education determines people’s behaviors, mindsets, compassion, success, and job qualities. Therefore, focusing on education would be a better choice.
However, I don’t mean to criticize anything. Because, honestly, I really really admire what Carrie has been doing. And to change the world, we need more people like you, Carrie! Thanks, Carrie Lange, Diana Drakes, and Wharton Global Youth for such a thing.
The moment Carrie talked about how her backyard overgrows so much food, I instantly understood what was going on. We have a luscious backyard of our own, and every year my dad overgrows a bunch of crops to the point that we find ourselves exhausting our friend circles to give this food out. I know a lot of my Asian neighbors and family friends have the same issue. I really admire just how Carrie can notice these everyday details and capture the essence of them into an organization that slots perfectly into this problem. I also live in the Bay Area, and I think reaching out through WeChat groups is a great next step to find more willing donors.
In our modern world, advancements have increased the pace of many actions and widened the disconnect between people. Activism is often seen online where donations per share posts can be found on social media as well as websites where you play games which allow you to donate for reaching some sort of goal. Whether it’s looked for or not, there is satisfaction that comes from doing good. However, there is a disconnect between people when helping through online acts. It’s easy to share or play a game knowing that you’re doing good, but then forget about it later. With in-person activism, there is a personal connection established between the people such as when the little girl received a fresh apple from Carrie. The apple was collected from hard work and brings fresh fruit and joy to someone who wouldn’t have open access to it otherwise. The expression of the little girl’s joy and her parent’s appreciation solidifies Carrie’s stance on continuing this journey with Fruits of Labor.
In contrast, over the pandemic, the disconnect between people has widened with most interactions done online through apps such as Zoom. Although there are many meetings held online connecting over activism, not being able to interact in person limits what we could do to help. In fact, with less focus on interactions, quantity in volunteering has become more of a focal point, especially for young students who have some sort of volunteer hour goal to fulfill. The amount of hours required for students along with the disconnect between themselves and who they are helping devalues the natural encouragement that pushes them to help more on their own accord. Carrie’s moment with the little girl illustrates how quantity is a goal but the quality of each interaction is much more important. This moment taken out of months of hard work is what validates her actions. Taking time out of your day to go in person to help people that need it ultimately alleviates the increasing disconnect of the modern world.
As a high school student who experienced online learning through Zoom during the pandemic last year, I strongly agree with the commenter that online interactions are necessarily limited when compared to in-person interactions. For example, during group activities where students were supposed to share their opinions in breakout rooms, it was rare to see students cooperate and interact with each other. I saw so many ceiling fans instead of people’s faces and heard silence instead of communication. In such an impersonal environment, I found it difficult to not only socialize with other people, but to also perform group tasks as effectively as possible. If online learning is this hard, then imagine how hard online activism must be! Along with what the commenter wrote, I agree that showing activism online is truly lacking compared to in-person services because there is a disconnection between the giver and the receiver. Performing an online service can be as very simple as posting awareness of important societal issues on social media. This way of helping people can sometimes be less genuine compared to helping people in person because social media is what creates the bandwagon effect – when the majority of people start acting out, the rest follows regardless of their beliefs.
Because of the easily accessible online platforms, some people may not have a genuine mindset when it comes to “helping” people. Having the right motive is the most important reason for helping others. When Carrie donated her fruits in person, she was able to see the joyful reactions of people. People’s appreciation for Carrie made her feel accomplished and proud of her work, which solidified her motivation to continue with her charitable acts. If her donations were made online, I imagine she would have had a much more difficult time.
However, I believe that the commenter falsely identified online platforms as being only futile to Carrie’s experience in Fruits of Labor. I disagree that utilizing the Internet limits what people can do to help because various online platforms like Instagram and Gmail actually functioned as a helpful tool for Carrie. Many donors were able to reach out to Carrie by email that they wanted to help, and Carrie was able to encourage other people to be new donors by promoting her organization through social media. As for me, I learned about so many different volunteer opportunities and donations through the internet. I was able to reach out and participate in those charities because of the media promotions, and I find it difficult to learn about these charitable opportunities without the use of the Internet. So, while performing online actions can limit hands-on experience and disconnect people physically, I still consider them to be a very useful resource when it comes to connecting people in the modern world.
Andy, I agree with what you said about the disconnect happening with Virtual Activism. At first glance, this may seem correct. We form more meaningful connections when we meet person to person instead of a screen. However, that doesn’t mean that Virtual Activism is limited. Although connections are important, Virtual Activism has the benefit of being more inclusive.
The connections formed between people decreased by a large margin during the pandemic. However, one thing I disagree about in Andy’s comment is his concept that Virtual Activism is limited. Although there isn’t as much of a connection made between people, there are some points of Virtual Activism that are worth looking at, namely, its inclusiveness. One of the more well-known signs of activism that recently occurred is Mr.Beast and Mark Rober creating Team Seas. For every dollar donated to Team Seas, one pound of garbage would be removed from the ocean. This means that people even donating one dollar would feel like they contributed to Earth. They created this fundraiser intending to remove 30 million pounds of trash in the ocean, which they managed to do in about two months. Not only that, content creators from all around youtube, a video streaming website, created videos to help support and spread the movement. In total, more than 600,000 people donated to team seas. This movement shows how inclusive Virtual Activism is, as anybody around the world can join this movement to support the ocean simply by having access to the internet and a dollar.
Activism should bring change to the world for the better, and shouldn’t stop with one’s community or country. This is especially seen in Virtual Activism, as anybody can help no matter where you live. Regular Activism, although good, only helps one’s community and doesn’t have a far reach. On the other hand, Virtual Activism can help make global problems become a problem that can be tackled. This is done through websites such as GoFundMe, which lets anybody create a fundraiser for anything they want. On this website, we can see people create fundraisers from medical bills to sports to the environment. Anybody can create a fundraiser as long as the reason is valid, which shows how inclusive it is, as anybody can create or support a fundraiser from the comfort of their homes.
Additionally, Virtual Activism has the additional benefit of being anonymous. Most people would want other people to know that they are doing a good deed. However, some people do not want to get thanked, instead, they do it for their own satisfaction. Also, being anonymous lets people hide behind a screen if they want to keep their identity a secret or are introverted. This lets them make an impact without revealing their identity, which is a win-win scenario. Compared to normal activism, where people have to show up in an area or go somewhere, we see that people participating can’t become anonymous, as they are physically there. This means that Virtual Activism can help certain people who want to become anonymous on the internet to still make an impact on the world. Virtual Activism may not be better than Activism in certain areas, but that doesn’t make it any worse.
Did the apples catch your eye? Well, same here, man; that’s why I clicked on it.
While listening to the podcast, I admired Carrie’s story and her efforts aimed at helping people. As the podcast reached its midpoint, I was particularly intrigued by the methods she used. I felt that the way she utilized her limited connections played a major role in her success. Many people own a social media platform, typically to share things about themselves or entertain others through their own life experiences. Social networking is a web of events that starts at some point and begins accelerating and connecting to many others. And while the intentions of those connections were originally for making friends, these platforms might as well have the ability to spread awareness or make your presence known to multiple other people. Nowadays, teenagers rely on social media for their information and are susceptible to believing certain information solely because it is from the web, making it “indefinitely right.”
In adapting to the trends of social media as well as reaching out to her personal connections, Carrie was able to identify the outreach program, The SF-Marin Food Bank, which had aided in her plan to provide as many people as she could with fresh fruits. In fact, it can be inferred that it was primarily due to her relationship with her fellow volunteers that she was connected to SF-Marin and given a chance to make a change. Carrie’s personal experience with Instagram not only helped her gain a business partner, but also additional donors/volunteers.
Personally, I find using social skills to improve human interactions may benefit us in multiple ways. My experience at the FIRST Robotics Competition this year is an illustrative example. As a member of the marketing division, I was assigned to scouting the booths and collecting data on their robots. I went around the stadium asking questions from my google forms. Some didn’t have answers at the time but promised to deliver me the information later on. In those cases, they recognized me instantly upon seeing me later on in the day and perfectly presented the information I needed. In another situation, the interview would go perfectly fine, and since the atmosphere I created felt more like a chat amongst friends or colleagues rather than a pressuring interview, they were more open in giving casual remarks. For instance, one person asked me which team I belonged to. Upon answering him, he said he would keep my team in mind to be on the lookout for and wished me luck in the competition. Whether it was for common courtesy or just due to his own character, that interaction created a link between us. Thereafter, he may discuss and spread it among his own friends or colleagues to further promote the purpose of our interaction. As for me, it demonstrated a necessary first step in order to improve my relations with people in the same field or area of interest, in case I may need the connection in the future.
In the economic world, you may often hear the phrase “it’s not about what you know but rather WHO you know.” Applying that concept to this article, Carrie’s connections enabled her to spread her ideas beyond just around her neighborhood, but also places much, much farther away. In addition, her once passtime had developed into a successfully operating business agreement, which suggests that no matter how miniscule the hobby or interest, if one puts effort into it, it can turn into something that constantly allows food to be placed on the table — or in this case, fresh fruits.
I very much enjoyed the podcast and am glad the situation turned out well for Carrie; many thanks for giving me a chance to express my thoughts, Wharton !
Thank you, Sophia, for your insightful comment. And before anything else… yes, the apples brought me here.
But wow, there’s just so much more to this podcast episode than the ever so red, perfectly ripe, irresistible apples! Thank you, Wharton, for raising so many important questions, introducing yet another fantastic teenage entrepreneur and inspiring youths around the world to ponder on possible ways to bring juicy changes to their own community.
I couldn’t agree more with the comment that social media played a major role in Carrie’s success. In today’s digital era, social media is indeed an invaluable platform that offers every established and aspiring entrepreneurs with infrastructure that can function as the very foundation for their business.
Where else can one reach out to millions of potential business partners and consumers within the matter of minutes, free of cost? Where else can one work together with like-minded people all over the world and initiate changes? Where else can one share and broadcast every step along the way of such a process in the forms of pictures, live and filmed videos and heartfelt posts? On top of it all, throw into the mix the global COVID-19 pandemic!
Social media is, without doubt, where the future of business lies. With this said, however, there exist some real risks and vulnerabilities of using and accepting social media as a legitimate business platform. To explore this “darker” side, I want to share an infamous story about ‘Molar Daddy’ and his social enterprise gone wrong.
Has anyone heard of Lee Young-hak, better known as ‘Molar Daddy’? He is a well-known dad, social entrepreneur, child predator and murderer all in one. He initially made himself to the public through a documentary film broadcasting the life of his family suffering from a rare, autosomal dental tumor.
People all over the world, especially in South Korea, were really moved to see the father and daughter diagnosed with the same condition trying to stay strong and positive despite the expensive medical bills and other struggles. Thousands of people donated generous sums of money to help Lee Young-hak and his family.
Lee Young-hak continued to actively broadcast his story through his Facebook, Twitter and Youtube channels. With more people paying attention, Lee Young-hak soon quit his job and founded a social enterprise aiming to help all patients suffering from autosomal dental tumor and other incurable diseases. With Lee Young-hak traveling around the world to give speeches and raising more money and other resources for his noble cause, his enterprise continued to grow.
In 2017, however, a news update on Lee Young-hak and his enterprise brought shock to the public. Most of the donations had been used to buy more than a dozen super cars and support Lee Young-hak’s extravagant lifestyle. As Lee Young-hak and his enterprise were in serious debt, he had been forcing his wife to work as a prostitute and selling her sex tapes in between donations. Only a couple of weeks after the suspicious death of his wife, Lee Young-hak was arrested for molesting and murdering one of his 14-year-old-daughter’s friends.
Yes, this is an uncomfortably grim story. But I believe that there is a very important lesson to be learned from such series of events. Lee Young-hak had been very, very good at portraying a certain image of himself on social media. He was a struggling patient and loving father, an innocent citizen and compassionate enterpreneur, an inspiring public speaker and philanthropist. He created such an alter ego through his Youtube videos, Twitter comments and Facebook posts while he was involved in all sorts of illegal and inhumane activities.
The very qualities that make social media one of the most attractive business platforms–how quick, easy, accessible, free and immediate it is for anyone to advertise their causes to any user–can work as its biggest vulnerability. And although I dearly hope and believe that most of the social entrepreneurs out there are wholesome people with a big heart and baskets full of fresh fruits like Carrie, we should ask if it is really okay for us to not have a working system weeding out the bad apples.
With the future of our business lying in social media, it should be our foremost priority to establish and regulate a safe system that takes into consideration the underlying dangers unique to social media. Unless we do so, our noble choices to help an important cause may end up aiding a crime and bringing irreversible damages.
According to the Federal Agriculture Organization, ⅓ of food produced for human consumption is lost and wasted every year, equivalent to 1.3 billion tons of produce. Despite the fact that food waste furthers climate change and exacerbates the 811 million people suffering from the global hunger crisis, we have yet to find an innovative solution to improving the crop harvesting process. Carrie has addressed both of these issues through her organization, Fruits of Labor. I think it’s fascinating how Carrie connected what some individuals might take for granted – like the fallen apples that fill up the backyard – and turned those items into potentially life-saving products.
Like Carrie, I saw that we needed to improve accessibility to food; after visiting a local strawberry farm in California and seeing the piles of “imperfect fruit” that would be dumped in a landfill, I was anxious to find a solution. Thus I created a company, AgriVision, which aims combat food insecuirty and food waste through hyperspectral image processing technology to detect and diagnose crop diseases. Unknown to most people, diseases remain the driving force behind such crop loss, costing the global economy 220 billion dollars every year. However, manually surveying an entire farm is exhaustive and inefficient. Between the inoculation period and the end of the incubation period, visible signs of diseases can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to show, making it difficult, if not impossible to detect plant disease through the human eye before it is too late. At AgriVision, hyperspectral cameras can go beyond the visible light spectrum and identify the smallest errors within crops. While much of this project has been R&D, similar to Carrie, I have been reaching out to local farmers and crop associations to see how we can best implement our product. As Carrie stated, “If you want to use the metaphor of supply and demand: the economy doesn’t grow until long-run supply increases and that means an increase in the root number of products available for production.” Combined with robotics, AgriVision’s disease detection capabilities can help farmers significnalty increase their yield and thereby supply more food to individuals around the world. With more viable food available and less waste early in the supply chain, I hope to make our society more sustainable.
I truly admire Carrie’s efforts to making food more accessible, and I think her willingness to think outside the box has allowed her organization to flourish. Furthermore, I am inspired by the individuals around her who are willing to support such a cause and am hopeful that future projects, perhaps ones like my own, will also experience positive feedback. At the end of the day, an investment in social equality and environmental sustainability is an investment in ourselves. By forming a collective effort to protect the environment that we live in and the people we are surrounded by, we will forge a better future.