Against the context of rapid economic, social and environmental change, a collective reflection is taking place on how to build more sustainable routes to share prosperity. In the meantime, an increasing number and wide range of change-makers have already found ways to imagine and grow a different economy in our cities, towns, neighbourhoods and villages.
This publication presents 25 case studies of the civic economy - rooted in age-old traditions of the associational economy but using new organising tactics, ways of connecting with people and approaches to collaborative investment.
They show that the civic economy is already a real, vital and growing part of many places, which actively contributes to community resilience, everyday innovation and shared prosperity. They also reveal how local leaders - that is, all those working together to improve places and their economies, whether in the public, private or third sector - can create the fertile ground for the civic economy to flourish and grow. Most importantly, the remarkable achievements of these 25 trailblazers show why we need to get better at understanding and recognising the role of civic entrepreneurship and enable it to turn ideas into action and impact.
NESTA, CABE, 00:/
Laura Bunt - 13.05.2011
Laura Bunt reflects on some of the key themes to emerge from the launch event for our new Compendium for the Civic Economy - a showcase of 25 trailblazing ideas that are transforming local places and economies across the UK.
On Thursday we launched the Compendium for the Civic Economy, a fantastic collection of case studies and lessons of civic enterprise and innovation. We were delighted to be joined by a full room from a whole host of different backgrounds, and especially pleased that many of the civic entrepreneurs and practitioners featured in the book were able to be part of the event.
Fuelled by breakfast from the People's Supermarket - a cooperative social venture currently based in Camden - there was a real buzz in the room which was reflected in comments online. We kicked off with Inderpaul Johar (00:/) who talked about the genealogy of the project, then opened up to some lively conversation with our panel - Pam Warhurst from Incredible Edible Todmorden, Sam Conniff from youth communications agency Livity, and Tom Bolton from theCentre for Cities.
You can watch the event online on the NESTA website, but I'd just like to highlight a few themes that I thought were particularly pertinent to the debate:
Firstly, how these civic ventures blend economic and social outcomes. As Sam eloquently argued, social organisations such as Livity, the People's Supermarket as well as TCHO and Baisikeli fuse together financial gain and social impact. This isn't about separating profit-making and making a difference, but finding a way to make returns on honest transactions.
Secondly, how the civic economy finds ways to bring together the very big and the very small, the very global with the hyper local. Whether through creating networks across different places such as the Hub network of shared workspaces or Rutland Telecoms cooperative high speed broadband infrastructure, or finding ways to bridge between small enterprise and big business such as Fintry Development Trust's community purchasing model, the civic economy bridges across gaps.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the civic economy is about recognising and mobilising assets not serving needs. Pam talked about the importance of apositive, inclusive story in how she's engaging communities in learning about food in Todmorden. People want to feel part of the solution, not the problem. Sam emphasised how Livity's success depends on their open, inclusive approach to working with young people - building and using their skills to grow the business.
In an increasingly decentralised policy context, with the government stirring debate about the role and potential of the Big Society, this feels like exactly the right time to be reflecting on these questions - how the civic economy can come to be more than the work of the few, and the resources and support needed to help it grow. We do hope you remain part of the conversation.
How local authorities can use social media to achieve more for less.
NESTA and IDeA have produced this pamphlet to demonstrate how developments in social media might affect, and be used in, the work of local government. It illustrates some of the amazing possibilities and highlights some of the risks to councils if they ignore these technological advances and the people using them.
Policymakers increasingly recognise that many of the solutions to major social challenges – from tackling climate change to improving public health – need to be much more local. Local solutions are frequently very effective, as they reflect the needs of specific communities and engage citizens in taking action. And they are often cost-effective, since they provide a conduit for the resources of citizens, charities or social enterprises to complement those of the state. Given the growing pressure on government finances, these are important benefits.
But localism presents a dilemma. Government has traditionally found it difficult to support genuine local solutions while achieving national impact and scale.
This report offers a solution: an approach by which central and local government can encourage widespread, high quality local responses to big challenges. The approach draws on the lessons of NESTA’s Big Green Challenge – a successful programme to support communities to reduce carbon emissions.