Our Society

Social action. Honest exchange. Grounded learning.

David Wilcox

Frameworks for thinking about local social innovation

Framework for local social innovation

My last post about Big Society and Our Society focussed on the politics standing in the way of support for local social action, and of ways to share experience ... and I want to start to move towards the practical.

The best way to do that is usually to help people tell stories about their projects and experiences ... and that's certainly the purpose of this online network, as described here. Tessy Britton has some illuminating comments over on socialreporter.com, where I also posted.

Tessy describes how the enthusiasm of local people can be quenched if council staff and local organisations are not cooperative. This confirms to me that wherever possible we need a whole system approach, that involves all the key interests in moving towards a shared vision for the future.

That's what the Chain Reaction event aimed for in East London, as I wrote here, with more here from one of the organisers, Laura Hyde.

However, it may be helpful to have a little theory to give us the mental frameworks for figuring out what's the same, what's different in various situations ... and where the area of high value may be.

You can run an OK sort of event by getting the right venue, a range of speakers, good catering and so on. Logistics are important, but aren't enough unless at the end of the day people have high spots to share and maybe three or four things they can take away and use as conversation starters with their colleagues. The good event designer creates a framework within which speakers and workshops sessions can generate these inspirations.

As I wrote earlier over on socialreporter.com, I've been thinking about the sort of framework that might help us identify the areas of inspiration and development that are important in these tough times. Four areas seem particularly important to me:

  • The new (and old) roles: people who are facilitators, organisers and connectors.
  • The networks in a locality, and online
  • The assets in an area, which may be buildings, organisations and indeed people
  • The methods we need to make things happen.

We need to join up those areas - help people in new roles to use the methods (which may be unfamiliar); learn how to weave and build networks; join up the assets in the networks; plan how to use the assets effectively. These were issues that emerged in the Chain Reaction event, as you can see from the videos.

I hope this makes sense, at least as a taster. I'm planning to use the framework for more blogging, and to gather stories and resources that will hopefully give some substance to Our Society, or indeed whatever you choose to call the communities we would live to live and work in.

But this is only my mental framework, for the moment. It will change. If you have one, I would love to hear.

Here's another one from Richard Wilson, which I really like.


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Jeff Mowatt Comment by Jeff Mowatt on February 5, 2011 at 10:40am
Thanks David, You'll also find some framework concepts from us. For example the home page of the web site which outlines the information and funding resources required to to propagate localised people-centered economics via a community investment business approach.  The site content includes the argument from a white paper for the need to reform capitalism and projects in which this approach has been deployed. There's also the presentation material and other links from the Economics for Ecology conferences making the case for economic transformation, in the global context of localism - if that's not a contradiction. You'll find links to other videos including Paul Grignom's Money as Debt - all aimed to convey what needs fixing with our present economic model.       .
David Wilcox Comment by David Wilcox on February 5, 2011 at 10:04am
Thanks Jeff - really helpful. I'm glad the rather theoretical framework sparked some practical ideas. Let's collect more
Jeff Mowatt Comment by Jeff Mowatt on February 5, 2011 at 9:50am

There are some US resources which may be useful in the context of telling stories, or of how to present telling stories. One of these is the Economics of Happiness a localism initiative who gave me admin rights for their Facebook page. They are promoting localism by distributiog a video to communities that are willing to screen it in public places. 

Another good piece of story telling came from PBS with Fixing the Future     

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