I have not posted for over a month – a combination of anticipating the impact of the public sector cuts – Westminster has no understanding how their policies impact on people’s lives – and making sense of the Big Society. It is a real challenge keeping optimistic about people’s capacities for innovation while listening to George Osborne give his CSR announcement.
However, listening to 40 young, social entrepreneurs talk about ‘Collaborative Consumption’ today at a NESTA with Rachel Botsman, author of “Whats Mine is Yours”, was heartening. Speakers from Zipcar (car sharing), Landshare, Social lending and Spice ( Welsh time-banking collective) showed that this movement was no longer about single businesses and was very aware of its role in local, social relationships, care and the energy for learning within communities.
Interestingly, most speakers were surprised that policy-makers could not grasp the significance of their work and its impact on local morale and well-being. In fact, local mutual exchange has always marginal to economic thinking and consequently is hidden from view, not least because much of it is done by women; neither the press nor policy-makers have the framework that would allow them to recognise its value, when no monetary value is attached.
Of course, lots of communities continue to share resources and help each other out, but give no name to these activities, they are part of life and expected. Perhaps new names such as ‘Collaborative Consumption’ might attract those involved in the wider economy today. One way of finding out is for those involved to lobby Local Enterprise Partnerships, Transition Towns, Core Cities and Locality Innovation Platforms etc
I had to get up at 5.30am to get to a 8.30 breakfast meeting in London- we need much more creative exchange in the north. IPPR and the RSA have already recognised this – I am also setting up partnership between MBS and the Guardian in order to bring together northern innovators, public leaders and researchers so provide for debate and national coverage for the northern voice of public innovation – hopefully, we will have found sponsors by the end of the month.