In a recent meeting with colleagues representing different sides of the perennial social enterprise definition debate, we again stumbled, or struggled to agree. There is of course some official definitions, but everyone still seems to feel we need to broaden or narrow it. It sometimes feels like we are a lot of navel gazers dancing on the head of a pin! Which sounds difficult and dangerous.
Citizens Assemblies have gone mainstream, no longer are they the preserve of democracy geeks. The potential of ‘mini publics‘ in bringing together a diverse group of citizens to deliberate, reach consensus and deliver a mandate for action to their local and national politicians is fascinating. Especially, when we consider the complex nature of so many problems that our elected officials must grapple with, from Brexit to artificial intelligence to climate change. Peter Bryant tells us more in his new blog.
Schools play a central role in developing the life-skills and confidence of young people. Participatory budgeting (PB) is a proven deliberative process that can inspire, empower and engage young people in a cooperative, democratic and purposeful way. Bringing the two together has many positive benefits for schools, for society and for young people.
Jez Hall of Shared Future and Lynn Sbaih of Give2Gain had the privilege of running a two hour session at the recent Greater Manchester Social Enterprise conference on the ‘Journey of Social Enterprise’. Our purpose was to explore the motivations and reasons why people got into social enterprise, and then, to think more widely about what sustained individuals on their journey.
Social isolation is a key requirement towards promoting wellbeing and preventing undue pressure on public services, such as costly hospital admissions. With an elderly mother of my own who is increasingly needing care at home it’s a subject close to my heart. Not least because of my passion for Participatory Budgeting (PB), that aims to include citizen voice, and can reduce social isolation whenever and wherever public money is being spent.
Now in its 9th year, the Citizen Participation University (CPU) is an annual gathering of community activists, organisers and developers, from across Europe, but also reaching out to the USA and into Turkey. Over 50 people came together, for 4 days, to talk, act out and share their best practice. A real powerhouse of community inspiration, and a rare opportunity to think outside of our boxes.
If two heads are better than one… what about 10 heads, or 100, or 67,000. Could Universities spearhead a new form of more open democratic accountability in educational Institutions? Would your school or college trust its learners, and use Participatory Budgeting to set just some of its budget? Or do we continue to believe the Vice-Chancellor always knows best?
I can hardly believe it is only two weeks since I was on a small Danish island, in the midst of the Baltic sea, taking part in the Danish Folkemoedet, or People’s Meeting. Sharing big ideas, rubbing up against national politicians (in their ill fitting jeans and over shined shoes) and celebrating the fact that every one — young, old, rich, homeless, black or white — had a valid opinion and something of value to add.
Can we ever create a world where people of all sorts can debate, decide and act together. In the political panic that has followed the referendum on leaving the EU there has been a lot of agonising. A lot of recrimination. We prefer to listen, reflect, and then try to get on with doing something positive. That is why we’re pleased to be part of Shared Future.
In a recent Citizens Inquiry in the Wirral, twenty residents from all walks of life worked together over nine evenings to think through how to make alcohol a healthy part of their community