The Big Society Programme announced by the UK Government yesterday is a bold move to empower citizens and the first strand of a comprehensive Programme which will deliver reform, renewal, fairness and change Britain needs.
This is to be welcomed and a calming move to steady nerves as we battle through the financial and economic storm, almost literally on the edge of chaos.
But where are the economists? Big Society is badly in need of an underpinning macro-economic model that configures a credible way forward, and we are missing that.
The report Prosperity without Growth, published by the Government’s independent watchdog on sustainable development, the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) provides hope. It outlines the merits of questioning the current underlying vision of a prosperity built on continual growth. Its clear message is that we can deduce from the financial crisis of 2008 that the current model of economic success is fundamentally flawed.
It emphasises that for advanced economies of the Western world, prosperity without growth is no longer a utopian dream. It is a financial and ecological necessity.
Usefully, evidence of intentional communities that pursue sources of identity, creativity and meaning that lie outside the realm of the market already exist. They provide a valuable learning ground and provide clues about the potential for more mainstream social change leading to happier lives and the achievement of sustainable growth.
The MakeItZone provides an opportunity for such an intentional community to develop and provides an example of a Big Society Project. Ian Greenwood, through his vision and relentless pursuit of ways and means, has instigated on the ground an environment to help businesses, youth and apprentices to "make-it" both in life, in craft and in business. Additionally, there will be full scale demonstrators of how existing buildings can be super-insulated and how solar energy can be gathered and stored even in winter in "low-tech" low-cost ways for maximum efficiency.
These activities contribute to a wider viable macro-economic model in which sustainable growth can be achieved.
Additionally, lessons can be learned from an earlier pioneer in sustainable development who are willing to offer encouragement and advice, the Pines Calyx conference centre and events venue based in Kent, which acts as the centre point of an emergent Centre for Sustainable Living and a hub for sustainable enterprise in the county.
One early task will be to visualise the emerging business and community ecosystem so that all participants can decide best what and how to contribute within their capabilities and negotiate their commitment for the benefit of the whole.
To that end, work is well under way to conceive and co-create a simplified model, omitting stocks, that both pinpoints needed action and workflows on the ground and incorporates components of macroeconomic significance. (The first economic model is shown here, a business ecosystem here, and a business model here).
For your copy of progress so far with The MakeItZone see the short piece
"MakeIt: a new zone to make it in life, craft and in business," in the document following.
You are at http://tinyurl.com/36sluc4