The Civic Economy - Making it real
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, co-founder of strategy and design practice 00:/, who talked about the genealogy of the project, before opening up to some lively conversation with our panel - Pam Warhurst from Incredible Edible Todmorden (pictured), Sam Conniff from youth communications agency Livity and Tom Bolton from the Centre for Cities.
Watch it online
You can watch the event online, 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.
Matching global and local
Secondly, how the civic economy finds ways to bring together the very big and the very small, the global with the local.
Whether through creating networks across different places such as the Hub network 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 a positive, inclusive story in how she's engaging communities to learn 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 and inclusive approach to working with young people, building and using their skills to grow the business.
A continuing conversation
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.