‘Open source’ place-making
When linked with the rise o the internet as a model or doing business, a modal shit in demandto localism in response to climate change and increasing awareness o the value o community to sustainable development, a orm o business that promotes people, moral resource and alter-native orms o shareholder value starts to look way more than just ‘avour o the month’.I social enterprise is to assume a greater role in the supply o public goods and services, howmight it change the way in which we deliver a key public service: the built environment?
AN ARMY OF NEW ENTREPRENEURS
As social enterprise has grown around the world, an army o new entrepreneurs has amassed inthe shadows o the ‘creative class’ o proessionals, knowledge workers and ‘Bobos’ championed by real estate developers and city administrators in their bid to turn around post-industrial cities.
This is an army that is committed to what Jerr Boschee, President and CEO o the Social Enter-prise Alliance in the United States calls
merging the prot motive and moral imperative
– and they are oot-soldiers to a cause that is an hybrid o capitalism and ethics, rather than economicclustering, Richard Florida’s ‘Gay Index’ or the capacity o culture, principally the visual artsand the excess capital that ollows it, to re-purpose redundant urban environment.
According to Boschee, an early explosion o activity took place across the United States in the1970s and 1980s,
as entrepreneurs, small businesses and major corporations discovered social marketsand started social enterprises
, and they were inspired by isolated incidents o private sectorcorporations addressing social need:
They began to run adult day-care centres; educational programs for small children, high-school drop-outs, and adult students; low-cost housing projects; vocational training and job-placement efforts;home-care services for the disabled and elderly; hospice care; outpatient mental-health and rehabilita-tion services; prisons; wind farms; psychiatric and substance-abuse centres; and dozens of other busi-nesses that delivered products and services previously provided by non-prots or government agencies.
The response o agencies in the United States at the time was to push more o the responsibil-ity or meeting social needs on to the non-proft sector, while simultaneously slashing ederaland state unding or human services.In the UK, a country with a powerul tradition o mutualism and state provision but weak cul-ture o philanthropy, a similar but less rapid and individuated trend has taken place. In recenttimes, it has witnessed the trebling in value o the charities sector, the rise o developmenttrusts to support regeneration and renewal – or example, the Royds Community Association– social enterprise provision o social care – or example, Turning Point – the birth o social businesses such as the Big Issue, ethical attractions such as the Eden Project and the osteringo devolved neighbourhood and community schemes by municipal authorities.
Social entrepreneurs such as John Bird, ounder o the Big Issue and Jamie Oliver, co-oundero the Fiteen chain o training restaurants have become lions o popular culture – with anemphasis upon them as charismatics, rather than CEOs like Georey Canada o HarlemChildren’s Zone in the United States.
Ideas or social business grown in the UK have been successully exported abroad – with versions o the Big Issue now available in nine countries around the world and The Hub,
a multi-sited incubator for social innovation
, in twelve.
If social enterprise isto assume a greater role in the supplyof public goodsand services, howmight it change theway in which wedeliver a key publicservice: the builtenvironment?