Compendium for the Civic Economy – Lessons Learned

in Civic Economy & Social Enterprise

Excerpts from Compendium for the Civic Economy, by Indy Johar and Joost Beunderman. Published in May 2011 by 00:/, with support from the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts (NESTA), and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), p177ff.

A: The civic economy is being built by protagonists who are led by passion, purpose, and personal commitment – and whose key asset is their social networks and trust they hold.

click on any image to enlarge

B: The civic economy is based upon inviting participation from the public at large – which goes far beyond mere consultation, to create frameworks for a type of co-production and co-investment that builds deep democratic belonging.

C: The civic economy is built using an increasing diversity of finance sources as well as the investment of a range of other ‘currencies’ – people’s time, trust, and social networks.

D: The civic economy is emerging from recognizing and re-combining the latent capacity of dormant or under-used physical assets, human capabilities, and aspirations.

E: The civic economy is focused on generating a holistic experience of place – creating places that tell stories about their purpose, often surprising and delighting users and helping to generate open conditions for people’s participation and collaboration.

F: The civic economy, although purpose driven, is being built not through strategic planning, but through open-ended, agile, incremental, and interactive practices – based on starting small, and growing in response to evolving needs and opportunities.

G: The civic economy is not just deeply local, but also intricately linked to change-makers elsewhere – growing through networks and adaptation, rather than through replication.

H: The civic economy is based on delivering a plurality of values and outcomes – which need to be acknowledged and taken into account in formulating the objectives and metrics of new policy, projects, and procurement.

Read the story behind the book in civiceconomy.net, and this review by Kevin Harris.

A slidedeck of illustrations used here:

4 Comments

  1. Wonderful exposition of how some people participate in the civic economy. I look forward to reading the main text and the comments below MUST be caveated with the fact that I haven’t, yet.

    This post makes assumptions about the locus of the civic economy, of where it lives and who ‘owns’ it. Who extends an invitation to the public at large ‘to participate’? To participate in whose process, in whose world? What about the processes that they currently participate in? Who’s participating in whose process?

    Who is ‘delivering a plurality of values and outcomes’and to whom are they being delivered? Whose agenda are we working on?

    I think it was Schumacher who said that the first principle of aid is respect. Respect for what is already there, and using that as a starting point rather than a utopian and theoretical ideal of how ‘we’ think things should be.

    The post is offering a language of frameworks, co-production and hopefully co-investment (rather than ‘con-investment) of democratic belonging and a holistic experience of place.

    It will of course appeal to the policy makers and the think tanks because this is their language. It is not the language of many of the ‘public at large’. It is the language of the socially aspiring and educated and as such may provide them with further tools for advancement. It is not the language of many of the individuals and communities whose future may well rely on cooperation, organisation and association. As such I would be worried by the extent to which this model will help to reduce inequalities of health, wealth and wellbeing. Instead I fear that it might serve to increase them. The People’s Supermarket’ has a chance of long term survival without philanthropic subsidy partly because it is in the 4th most wealthy London Borough, serving people who can afford to pay a premium to express their values in their retail decision making. What hope would it have in one of the poorest London Boroughs?

    Here is an invitation into a ‘better way’. It reminds me of the dynamic so vividly documented by Sirolli, Chambers and others of what happens when we try to impose an ‘intellectually, morally and economically superior’ methodology onto a ‘less sophisticated’ ‘public at large’. It ends up compounding the problems of those whom it most intends to help.

    It maybe worth reflecting on Robert Chambers definition: ‘Lower[s]: people who are in a context subordinate or inferior to uppers. A person can be a lower in one context and an upper in another.’

    I think that there is tremendous value in some of the ideas being articulated in this work. But building a portfolio of ‘solutions’ has never been the real challenge to ‘development’.

  2. The comment clearly exudes wisdom and I look forward to understanding it in full. My remarks MUST be caveated by the fact that I haven’t.

    The comment uses rhetorical devices like ‘Whose agenda are we working on?’ and important theoretical words like ‘locus’ in a constructive and progressive way, helping the rest of us to realise the wretchedness of our ignorance.

    It will of course appeal to someone or other somewhere for whom this is their language. It is not the language of many of the ‘public at large’. It is the language of the socially aspiring and educated and is not the language of many of the individuals and communities whose future may well rely on cooperation, organisation and association.

    And so on. C’mon Mike, chill out buddy.

    I give credit to Leo, once again, for putting his energies into spreading good stuff.

  3. Absolutely credit to Leo, Joost and Indie – no doubt this is some great stuff (I have now started to plough through the full 200 or so pages).

    But I am not inviting the public at large to participate. I am not ‘delivering a plurality of values’. I am trying to challenge and be challenged by fellow practitioners. Isn’t that what blogs are for?

    So if I have got anything wrong, or misunderstood, or failed to appreciate fresh insights then please put me right.

    But when it comes to finding effective approaches to tackle inequality please do not tell me to ‘chill out’.

  4. Thanks for the credit, Mike and Kevin, and someday I will deserve it. Can’t claim much credit for just helping to spread the word on the great work that other people do.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Leo Romero - Lessons Learned: Compendium for the Civic Economy, by @indy_johar @joostbeunderman @NESTA @designcouncil http://bit.ly/itDoO6 #civiceconomy
  2. Michael Chitty - Building a portfolio of ‘solutions’ has never been the real challenge to ‘development’. - http://bit.ly/lAnKMJ
  3. Roxanne Persaud - Compendium for the #CivicEconomy – Lessons Learned <great summary by @OurBlocks http://ow.ly/50B6I #bigsociety
  4. Leo Romero - @indy_johar three suggestions here: http://bit.ly/jqZJhO unlock the pdf, break it up, do a web version ( eg http://bit.ly/itDoO6 ) - ...
  5. pcvcolin - @indy_johar three suggestions here: http://bit.ly/jqZJhO unlock the pdf, break it up, do a web version ( eg http://bit.ly/itDoO6 ) - ...

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