InterSections11 at The Eden Project

I’ve been at the InterSections11 conference run by the DottCornwall team. What an incredibly inspiring, fun, informative and unexpected couple of days.

Reflecting on the event while sitting on the train, all I could think about was how beautiful the Eden Project is – the sun was shining, there was a sense of creativity floating round and the air was clean! I had forgotten how lovely Cornwall is.

Eden Project

The Eden Project made the perfect location for the two day event; social enterprise, innovation and collaboration were three of the main topics discussed. Once I’ve had more time to let everything sink in, I wil blog my favourite take aways from the conference but here is a taster with a few links to get your taste buds going:

– Nick Jankel from WeCreate on ‘innovation and crowd sourcing’ discussing how ‘together everything is possible. We need to adopt new behaviours not new tools.
– Tom Hulme from IDEO on ‘Open IDEO’ on using existing platforms for innovation and how being visual, collaborative, evaluative and fun we can create better together.
David McCandles on Infographics and how we should use ‘data as the new soil’ and use colour techniques to get messages across.
– David Rowan from Wired UK on co-creating with bits and atoms and how if we create the right structure, collaboration can work.
-David Kester from the Design Council on how design can nudge behaviour and boost the economy.
– Charles Armstrong from Trampoline Systems on mapping networks and how you need to measure something to manage it.
– Josephine Green on social innovation and how we are moving from a hierarchical, industrial market to a flat (pancake) socio-ecological era.

It’s worth doing a Twitter search on #intersect for Tweets from the event.

I also discovered how small the world is and met a whole network of fantastic people!

Social enterprise or Sustainable enterprise?

LSE Lecture: Sustainability in Practice, Sara Parkin, Forum for the Future, 11 October 2010

Parkin gave a very articulate and engaging lecture which questioned whether social enterprises provide sustainable solutions.

Because I’ve been working on projects with a couple of social enterprises I found this a very thought provoking question.  The projects I’ve been involved with have been very much focused on sustainability.  The community are involved to create a better place for residents, efficiency has been key so that costs are kept low and manageable but more importantly, the environment has been put at the forefront to make sure it does not suffer.  Parkin prompted debate on the importance of human and economic factors and the effect on the planet when setting up an enterprise.  A true definition of a social enterprise is a business with socially driven objectives which invests its profits back into the enterprise.

During the lecture, we discussed the definitions of a social enterprise, a conventional enterprise, of an entrepreneur and sustainability which resulted in us questioning whether we should be focusing on ‘sustainable enterprises’ instead.

This then raises two questions.  What is the difference between a social enterprise and a not-for-profit enterprise and what is the detrimental effect of such things as wasting paper and increasing your carbon footprint by travelling to make the project happen!?

The lecture would not have been complete without mentioning the Big Society! Parkin talked about her concerns if communities fail to come together once the government have created a business out of decentralising services. Will the communities that currently work together, help each other out and look to make a difference, be squashed? Let’s hope not!

My conclusion is that social enterprises are becoming more accepted, better understood and, fingers crossed, better funded.  Yes, we need to consider all pillars of sustainability for a sustainable outcome but educating communities to be more socially aware is fundamental to achieving this.