Making Things To Make A Difference

When I was trying to explain Social Innovation Camp to NGOs & journalists in Tbilisi I settled on the phrase 'Making Things To Make A Difference'.

I got enthused about the whole 'Making Things' meme by Chris Thorpe, while helping him cook up the idea for 'Making Things for 2morro' (a hackday for youngsters as part of 2morro 09). Making Things captures the proactive and DIY approach to problems that infuses Social Innovation Camp and marks it out as a social impact that's distinct from campaigning, policy or orthodox service delivery.

And kicking around Social Innovation Camp ideas with the helpful Dan Burgess of Naked Comms reminded me that the powerful flip side is '...because so much is BROKEN'. That's why we must make stuff; because we can all see that it's not just charities that are broken but the financial system, the economy, our cities and all the other fruits of collapsanomics.

There's a great article called 'Alinsky vs. Arizmendi: Redistribution or Control of Wealth In Changing the World' which contrasts two visions of changing the world. One is the campaiging of Saul Alinsky for "the improvement of the distribution of wealth that the system generated to include communities that were systematically excluded or shortchanged because they were Black, Latino, or working class." The other is the Mondragon network of worker-owned co-ops started by an anti-Franco priest in Spain, and which now has has 85 companies employing 130,000 people globally.

The article finds in favour of the co-ops, on the basis that the redsitribution model depended on a social contract that has since been shattered. Personally, I suspect that we'll always need a bit of both. But more than that we need the creative hacktivism that's breaking out as we realise we can (in the words of a Social Innovation Camp mantra) "use online tools to organise offline change". And that's why 'Making Stuff...' appeals to me; not just making tools or whole solutions, but in the process re-making expectations about what's possible. The tools are there and we don't have to ask permission, so...

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