In the Shadow of Luminaries

Notes on last weekend’s Boston House Party from former RG Fellow Pete Redington ( …
“Hi Pete. I’m Tracy.”
I nearly choke on my absolutely outstanding lemonade as I, in turn, read the nametag of the unassuming party guest in front of me: Tracy Hewat. Tracy Hewat!? The Tracy Hewat?! Founding member of Resource Generation?!
It can be odd, after years spent knowing about someone who has so positively affected your life, to finally meet that person. Like Tracy Hewat. She did not fly in through the doors from the Jamaicaway, super hero cape floating in the breeze. She did not levitate above the floor, body pretzeled in an otherworldly yogi position. She didn’t even get a sports-arena-style welcome, complete with dimmed lights, pumping techno music, and an overly-energetic announcer (“Ladies and gentlemen … put your hands together for … Tracy! … Hew-at!!!!!”) And yet, nonetheless, she somehow managed to accomplish the extraordinary, unprecedented feat of organizing young people of wealth to use their privilege for social change. Some things, I guess, are too big to fit on a Jumbotron.
If I had been thinking more clearly, I would have asked for her autograph. If I had come prepared, I would have brought along a copy of her infamous Money Talks. So Can We. As it was, I managed not to choke on my lemonade as my mind came to grips with the fact that I was talking with someone who had, in founding Resource Generation years ago, helped change the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of progressive, affluent young adults, including my own.
Which, in part, is why so many of us had made the trek to Boston for RG’s most recent house party this past weekend.
The evening was billed as a return to RG’s roots. And it was an opportunity to meet, talk with, and see again some of the folks who have done, and are doing, some of the most pioneering work in the arena of progressive social change giving. In addition to Tracy Hewat, the impressive guest list included Anne and Christopher Ellinger, authors of We Gave Away A Fortune, Chuck Collins, who helped found United for a Fair Economy, among other economic justice organizations, and Laura Wernick, who spoke about her doctoral dissertation that focuses on RG and its unique impact in the community of social change philanthropy.
I was surrounded by legends and luminaries. And, as is the case at many RG events, taking full advantage of the experiences and insights of those present was like trying to squeeze a lifetime of conversations, stories and insights into a 3-hour time period. Not enough time to learn from everyone who had so much to share, to collaborate with so many on what the future could/will look like, or to note how far we have come in such a relatively short period of time.
The potential impact of RG seems limitless. And while there is still so much more to do, it is amazing how much has been accomplished in such a short time.
And I wonder what last Saturday’s RG Party looked like to Tracy Hewat. And what the future of progressive social change looks like to her today, as compared to when Resource Generation was founded.
The prospects of social change giving can often be so overwhelming. It’s hard to know where to jump in, and what to do once you get in there. But every once in a while, it’s nice to appreciate what has been done to make things better, to be inspired by those who have struggled before you, and to re-imagine what can be done in the future.
I’ll bet there was a lot of that reflected on this past weekend. I know I experienced my fair share.