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How Communities Heal

Update: GREAT evening. Photos are on Facebook.Thanks Vivian for your inspiration! And thanks Colin and Laurel for the invitation.

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Original Post: Debbie and I have been invited to a book launch tomorrow for How Communities Heal: Stories of Social Innovation and Social Change, by vivian Hutchinson who spells his first name in lower case. Either that or the spelling is a typo repeated throughout the book. I am guessing "vivian" a way to insist on informality. Nice!!

How communities heal takes a community

The book is good. Having been away from NZ for a few decades, I was wondering if NZ was keeping up with the global movement towards social enterprise and this book was a refreshing reminder that not only is New Zealand in the game, it might be adding a few kiwi contributions. There are also some organizations that have popped up that I wasn't aware of, including the New Zealand Social Entrepreneur Fellowship.

One of those kiwi contributions is in social accounting where vivian stresses the danger of "inappropriate use of business paradigms in a complex social context, and the anxious drive to reduce results into simplistic commercial terminology in order to gain support from funders." [page 130] Well said! I remember going through the official social accounting course in the UK, when we launched The Sorting Room, where the metrics were very very VERY commercial and every [expected] social outcome had to be quantified in purely mathematical terms. Which is not always easy to do and can sometimes bias the proposal towards results that can be easily [and commercially] measure. Good to see a more human touch in the accounting area. I heard the book Expanding the Pie tackles this also. 

Entrepreneurship for the common good

I haven't read all the case studies and people profiles yet but the one that jumped out to me was Campbell Roberts, Director of the Salvation Army's social services. One of the turning points for Roberts was addressing the fact that their $80 million worth of welfare and services were not really performing as intended and, in fact. "conditions had actually deteriorated."

"The question for us became: Do we keep doing this? We knew we couldn't withdraw some of our services because they were helping people . . . but we also had to accept that they weren't really changing things in the community. It was time for a change." Campbell Roberts, How Communities Heal, page 124

That shift in thinking [and social accounting] led Roberts and his team to move away from being perennial landlords to developing new social solutions including entrepreneurial initiative and innovative ways of helping elderly people keep and maintain their own properties.

I am looking forward to reading the rest of the book, and to meet some of the authors at the book launch tomorrow.

Related on TSK: The Feast Conference for Social Entrepreneurs, Emerging Philanthropy, Philanthrocapitalism.

Check out vivian on Stuff.

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