Friday round-up: responses, debates and new thinking

A brief Friday round-up before the computer ices over:

– A couple of things I previously blogged about have sparked responses / continued in debates. Firstly, the i-genius debate continues both in the comments of David Wilcox’s original post (I particularly liked Tom from MySociety‘s "Yikes, it might be the best site in the world, but it doesn’t seem to
really chime with British social sensibilities. I’d go red at the face
with the idea of adding myself to a site with a name like that. The
hubris!") and in a follow-up post with an e-mail response from the site’s founders. Read on, but give the site a try too….

The second thing was my mention of the Shaftesbury Partnership’s distinction between system social entrepreneur and community social entrepreneur. A summary of my post might read "kind of agree, kind of disagree"….anyway, they’ve posted up a response on their blog which goes into some depth answering some of the questions I raised. I will respond to this more fully, but will do so in a separate post with some proper thought behind it, but am enjoying the conversation.

– George Bush used the words "social entrepreneur" in his state of the union address (thus causing havoc with my Google Alert feeds); I’ll leave it at that

Davos Conversation, a kind of online forum of the World Economic Forum, if you want to know (some of) what’s happening

– the 59 smartest non-profit organisations online claims to be a list of "organisations who are winners because of their web
2.0 smarts and a willingness to engage their constituents far beyond
asking them to dig into their pockets.These are organizations that
give their volunteers and members a voice and get out of the way. They’re pros at mobilizing awareness online. They’re experimentors. Innovators. On a mission. They’re fearless."  That  paragraph is a  bit American, and so is the list: I counted about three non-US sites; I don’t know whether that’s the real proportion (certainly the US leads on this stuff), but I doubt it. Still, lots and lots of interesting content through all these links….

– some interesting stuff on action learning via School of Everything via David Wilcox ; more on this soon as well, I hope

– something causing a bit of debate is a report from the City Parochial Foundation called Building Blocks about second-tier organisations which has some interesting findings including:

– small groups clearly benefit more than medium-sized organisations who struggle to fund their infrastructure support needs
– small groups in particular feel their voices are not heard and it is funders and outside agencies which decide what they ‘need’
– frontline groups value one-to-one help, from knowledgeable,
experienced, committed, and skilled individuals/bodies which are not in
competition with them for funding

CPF provide some funding to our London programme [disclaimer alert], and we are featured in the report as an example of good practice [double disclaimer!], but there is real validity in the points above. And it should be those that are reported, as well as what has become the headline (Cut back second tier non-profits, says major funder).

– and finally, an interesting article from Simon Jenkins in the Times (from October 2006: finger on the pulse, as ever), which includes, on the second page, the following:

"Someone should spur a revival of community participation in Britain.
A crash course in parish innovation is needed similar to that which
swept Scandinavia in the 1970s and 1980s, enveloping communes,
municipalities and mayors. It should capitalise on the wealth that is
pouring into many British villages and on the time that many retired
people have to spare. Most rural communities in most parts of the world
look after their old people without having to call for help from a near
bankrupt nationalised industry.

Nor is all lost. The admirable Leicestershire village of
Sheepy Magna raised £45,000 in 2003 to convert part of its church into
a one-stop community enterprise, with internet access, a baker’s shop,
a Fairtrade market and, of all things, a sub-post office. It took
nothing but determined local leadership. It can be done, even in

Rural social entrepreneurs come forth…..

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