Jonathan Meades on Brand and Regeneration … [Read more...]

Would Social Enterprise Deliver a Better World?

Just imagine a world where every business is a social enterprise. There was nowhere to spend your money that was not taking a portion of it to reinvest in social change, to alleviate hardship and increase social justice. You eat at a restaurant that uses part of the price of your ham hock to help the homeless find a job.  You pay a premium on your office space so that your landlord can re-invest some of your cash into supporting entrepreneurs amongst the local poor folk.  You buy your petrol from an oil company that takes a slice of your cash to improve marine conservation and invest in promoting democracy in the oilfields of the planet. Every time you buy something someone puts a smile on the face of the world. The more we consume the better things get! Growth is genuinely good! Isn't it? Well perhaps, because all of these social enterprises are also genuinely sustainable in a one planet economy, all paying a fair wage for a days work, and are well capitalised as investors recognise that social change is in their 'self interest' too.  The return they get on their capital is worth much more than just money.  It is a planet fit for the grandchildren. How would the market for 'social change' play out … [Read more...]

First as Tragedy: Then as Farce – Zizek on the Economy

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What Is Leeds Like?

This is the title of a new photography competition being run by Leeds City Council.  The public are invited to submit their snaps that capture for them what Leeds is like in 2011. And the prize for What Is Leeds Like?  The council and its partners may use your images in a report and in any other publication they wish, to portray the city. On the one hand I admire the enterprise.  No doubt, strapped for cash, they can't afford to commission a professional, or even to buy some of the existing great product of the Leeds photography community.  A quick search on flickr for Leeds 2011 produces over 28 000 images. But  it feels a little one sided... Is there a qualitative difference between professionally commissioned and briefed city portraiture and the chocolate box approach of a 'send us your snaps' competition?  Is there a danger of de-professionalising photography?  Or is it just another creative industry that needs to wake up to the fact that we are all creatives now? So what could the council do that would meet its requirements for low/no cost but high quality photography and provide a meaningful and powerful platform for Leeds photographers? So, Leeds photographers, what would you value as a prize in such a … [Read more...]

A thought provoking little video from the BBC

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Community, Cultural and Economic Development – On a Shoestring…

This is the modest challenge I have set myself. A challenge for several reasons.  Firstly these phenomena are usually divided up and tackled by different teams, using different professional jargon, working to different policy objectives in different departments and sectors (for profit, public and third). Tackling community, cultural and economic development as a kind of holy trinity vitally important.  Yet we usually separate them and often end up with economic development that breaks community or ignores culture and vice versa... Another challenge is the fixation that many policy makers and leaders have with 'big ticket' solutions.  Want to stimulate culture?  Let's build an Arena or a Gallery?  Need to stimulate economic development?  How about an Enterprise Zone or a Technology Park?  Or, anyone for high speed trains?  Multi-million pound projects that rely on politicians, bureaucrats and professionals working together to invest millions.  In these austere times there are economic development consultancies that will write you papers on how to finance these projects using tax increment finances and other such stuff! But let's get back to basics on this. Community, Culture and Economy are like ying and yang, except … [Read more...]

Introducing the Northern Economic Futures Commission… ...because we 'need some plans... strategic plans...for growing the private sector....' No Geoff, they are not Local Economic Partnerships, they are Local ENTERPRISE Partnerships... … [Read more...]

Horrible Bosses…

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Danone Think Tankery

Last week saw a trip down to London to join a dialogue with Myriam Cohen-Welgryn, Danone Vice-President Nature, Laura Palmeiro, Vice-President Nature Finance, Bernard Giraud, Vice-President Sustainability and Shared Value Creation and Laurence Foucher Danone New Media Manager. The Danone team were joined by Caroline Holtum, Head of Content at Guardian Sustainable Business, Jessica Shankleman, Michael Hoevel, Leeds own Social Business Guru Rob Greenland, Duncan Fisher David Floyd and myself. There was no clearly mapped out process or agenda relying instead on getting some interested people into a convivial setting and seeing where the conversation went.  In both cases I suspect that some real learning accrued on both sides. Once again Danone showed an incredible openness in sharing with us some of their projects and challenges relating to food security, poverty alleviation, health and sustainability and showed how several projects had moved on from our last round of discussions with them.  Highlights for me included investments from their 100m Euro … [Read more...]

There is Another Game in Town….and she is called Elsie

You might be forgiven for thinking that traditional 'economic development' is the only game in town.  Shopping centres, arenas and enterprise zones, vocational education and training producing a workforce to meet the needs of employers. This kind of stuff has been the mainstream of economic development for as long as I can remember. But there is another game that WE can play.. One which relies less on 'attracting' talent and wealth from outside and more on developing the passion, aspiration and skills of the people that already make up our communities.  It works with what we have got, starting from where we are. It relies on the ability of local people to support each other, with knowledge, skills, networks and wherever possible custom.   Instead of looking to buy 'star players' to join the team we instead set up an academy, a place and a process in which we can explore our potential and find the people and other resources that we need to move our projects forward. This is where Elsie comes in. Leeds Community Enterprise Accelerator (Elsie) is a project designed to build the capacity of ordinary people in the Leeds community to shape their own future according to their own hopes and aspirations.  It … [Read more...]


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