Every Denisonian should be a social entrepreneur

By Lindsay Hanz
Special to The Denisonian 

This morning, I sit in a coffee shop not far from campus at the heart of historical Newark, Ohio. I eat breakfast and observe the people of the town while contemplating my time at Denison and the changes I have gone through over the past three years.

Sparta Restaurant and Coffeeshop is founded on the principle of change. Sparta’s historic building located at 16 W. Main Street underwent a major transformation in order to become the site of community development and rehabilitation. Sparta’s mission emphasizes empowerment and opportunity through a social entrepreneurial approach, much like Denison’s mission for the education of its students.

A social entrepreneur identifies a social problem, and seeks a solution. Rather than stopping at a solution to specific problem, a social entrepreneur aims to transform the entire system. The key to social entrepreneurism is to not only identify the problem, but to also uncover the resources available to address the problem.

Sparta owner Chris Ramsey outlines the purpose of his business: “Through a collaborative model we will gather concerned individuals in our community to build resources, sustainability and green living, empower impoverished individuals in the Newark community for betterment and build a sustainable model of doing business which combines purpose with passion.”

As students, we are constantly trying to find areas to infuse our passion, giving a purpose to our education. Ramsey decided to employ this kind of thinking to his entire life, living by the definition of social entrepreneurism. In his mind, this is the only way to do business.

Each day, Denison’s students are faced with pressing questions about the state of society. We are taught to think about problems critically and in a dynamic manner. We are autonomous thinkers and active members of our community. We see possibility for change at every corner in all that we do. Denison fosters a community of social entrepreneurs.

The average Denisonian is not content with the current state of the community. As innovators, we seek to bring about positive change to the world we live in, whether we define our world by the boundaries of the Hill or the entire country. This by definition is a social entrepreneur.

Sparta is one of those places that leaves you feeling good about yourself and the world we live in because you are instilled with hope. When I leave Denison, I want to feel the same confidence for the work I will embark upon. This should be the goal of every Denisonian.