Rich Brubaker, like many in Shanghai, originally found himself with big dreams of real estate, investment, and consulting, but soon found himself developing the HandsOn Shanghai platform and wondering about the sustainability of China’s economic model. Since then he has focused on developing community based platforms for sustainability as a social entrepreneur, serial blogger (@allroads or @greenerchina), consultant, and professor of Sustainability at CEIBS.
After 2 weeks of the COP15 negotiations, and a year of what seemed like nonstop talk of everything “green”, the below is a guide for those who are looking to be part of something real. That, big picture aside, there are ways that every day that you can be a part of supporting good things going on in the Shanghai community. Some are small, all are good for you, and perhaps a few of them will convince you that there are people who care and solutions that will work.
1. Attend some events and meet new people
If all you’re looking for is pure business content and networking, and you have some money to spend, then check the never ending list of possibilities Shanghai’s largest chambers (The American Chamber of Commerce and European Chamber of Commerce) have to offer. For those who are on a budget, but still hankering for high quality brain food, then you could always join in on monthly FCC events, check out the newly established Shanghai Photographers Night, attend a play on Anfu Road, spend some time at the 50 Moganshan Road art district,and keep an eye out for the upcoming annual literary festival… For more activities with a deeper shade of, how about the monthly Green Drinks, a GIGA event on green buildings, or the twice yearly Eco Design Fair?
2. Support a Social Entrepreneur
Over the last 2 years Shanghai has become a hot bed for new entrepreneurs with business models touting a social purpose, and there are many worth your patronage. Take the time to try out Shokay’s Yakschmere sweaters and gloves, buy sustainable home accessories from Bambu, support Tibetan artistry at Torana House on Anfu Road, help fulfill a student’s dream to attend university through Qifang’s online student loan platform, or buy carbon offsets through Seal Carbon
3. Volunteer your time
Volunteering one’s time is perhaps the most direct way to get involved in the community, and in Shanghai there are a lot of options for getting Hands On.. so between HandsOn Shanghai’s 15-20 projects a week benefiting children and the elderly, Joint U.S.-China Collaboration on Clean Energy (JUCCCE) need for volunteers to help develop China’s energy blueprint, or taking in a foster pet from the Second Chance Animal Aid, there are no lack of opportunities to get personally engaged in Shanghai.
4. Support Organic farms and others who provide quality ingredients!
For those who feel like you cannot trust your food sources, perhaps it is time to go organic (relax meat eaters, you can get organic meats in Shanghai as well). Qimin hotpot on Shaanxi Road offers organic veggies and meat fill hotpots (try the vinegar slush) and Shanghai Organics can deliver a weeks worth of veg to your door for a reasonable price. Or if you are at the Cool Docks (south part of the Bund), stop into Barrels and support a family operation that offers up organics from their own garden.
5. Hop on a bike and see the city
Feeling disconnected from Shanghai? Get out of the taxi and go for a bike with any number of the groups who are popping onto the scene. It is a great way to not only see the city, but feel the city with SISU Cycling club, take a spin using a map from the Alley Cats, or join the next ride of the newly launched Coolbike. Get geared by visiting Bohdi bikes, or the new People’s Bike website.
So that’s it. 5 ways that you can take your level of community engagement to a higher level in Shanghai this next year.