This is the view from a piece of land I’m going to go and see soon.

It’s for sale.

I want to buy it and start a social enterprise – I have a profitable plan that helps kids and makes a difference.

The property has been a lodge/ranch since the 1950s, and it has a decent income stream from guests coming to enjoy the nature and ride horses.  It’s about 20 miles North of the Columbia River in the Southern part of Washington, about 90 miles outside of Portland.

There are 80 acres, 6 cabins (including 2 caretaker homes), and one lodge house. The property sleeps 36-70 guests in its current use as a bed and breakfast.

The lodge house has 12 guest rooms, and would be perfect for a group home for foster kids.

Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foster_care if you’re not familiar with the state of the foster care system.  The upshot is that this country has a severe crisis on its hands.  There are too many beds, not enough kids, and the effectiveness of treatment programs is questionable.

As a nation, we need more quality programs to help kids.  I’m going to make some assumptions here, and at some point I’ll do more research.  I believe that kids separated from their families struggle more to adapt to society.  I believe that anti-social behavior (think crime) is ultimately cheaper for society to prevent rather than punish – schools are cheaper than jails.

Some kids are too tough for foster homes to handle.  When kids experience a high degree of trauma, they can’t cope with the expectations of school and “normal” family life.  These kids need help learning how to process their trauma while gaining life skills—and quite frequently they need to learn how to get along without using destructive behavior.

This means using a restrictive environment—one where boundaries are firm and expectations are clear.  This doesn’t have to be a prison – boundaries and expectations are constantly established in a well-run company.  Let’s face it, we all require a certain degree of structure—especially during the teenage years, which are tough for us all.

I’ve been planning this business for years—when I saw this property, I got so excited.

I work in corporate transformation—my team gets hired to teach leadership how to produce cultural change.  I realized that I could bring executives out to these cabins every day to work with the kids, and that they would pay us for the privilege.  I can tell the executives that they’re teaching the kids, and the kids that they’re teaching the executives—both will be true.  We’ll all learn a little something, and take it with us each day.

Not to minimize it.  We work with a psychotherapist-turned-consultant named Sylvia LaFair—recently outed as the “life coach” (not what she calls herself, although she does do coaching) for Jon from Jon & Kate + 8, if you follow tabloid gossip.  Either way, she’s been teaching leadership to executives for about 30 years, and has led trips up the Inca Trail and into Chaco Canyon as a part of her work.  She’s a fascinating person, and I am thrilled to have her involved.

I know tremendous teachers, therapists, and social workers who will all help to create a fantastic curriculum for our programs for the kids and execs.  I can pull together the plan to finance the purchase, which is where you come in.

We’re going to “cloud-fund” this together.  That’s where thousands of tiny donations combine to form a “cloud” of money – just like how Move-On.org was able to change the face of elections by pooling the resources of people who want to make a difference.

Except this will be a social enterprise – a business that puts doing good before making profits, but still wants to make money.  I like having a nice lifestyle.  I think everyone should have one.

Our investors should expect a reasonable rate of return—nothing fancy, but enough to put us on par with stocks, somewhere around (I’m estimating) 10% per year.   Thanks to the high profit margins of group homes and executive leadership, we’ll actually have more profit, which we’ll reinvest into other group homes like this one.

The curriculum we develop will be the work of some of the best minds in experiential learning, education, and therapy.  My plan is to donate that curriculum to the Creative Commons—so that anyone, anywhere, can benefit from what we create.

Everywhere across this country, we need to pull together the people that struggle with those who have a lot, and give them the chance to learn from each other.

There are lots of homes for sale, lots of people who need places to live, and a real lack of good “life-skills” curriculums out there.  You know, ones that work—programs that actually teach people the skills to thrive, not just survive.

I want to call this Microcosm, because I want the kids to represent a diverse population—like a microcosm of this country.  Culturally, regionally, ethnically, geographically—there is a need to bring people together, to allow them to experience diversity – not just preach about it.  We’ll be a little tiny America, out there in the woods, saving the world one child at a time.

Stay tuned, and contact me directly at 630.240.3072 if you want to be involved.

ps all these pictures are from the property, courtesy of http://picasaweb.google.com/copperwestoffice/MtAdamsLodge

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