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Post-Consumerism: Emerging Needs and Market Opportunities

In the first part of my article on Post Consumerism, I touched on the drivers of the “Citizen Renaissance,” as Jules Peck coins it. My...

Tamara Giltsoff
Tamara Giltsoff on June 10, 2009.

Enabling Movements and Advocacy

The people behind GetUp.org (the largest political organization in Australia), Avaaz.org (the world’s largest political community) and GlobalZero.org (an international movement on nuclear weapons led by 100 world leaders), known as “Purpose Campaigns,” are dedicated to building platforms for advocacy and social movements. The groups are now working with brands to harness advocacy and engagement around important movements such as health care reform or new clean energy markets and energy independence.

Citizen Engagement

Examples of platforms or initiatives already in action that are engaging citizen around issues such as climate change, government decision-making and rescue plans, or grass-roots innovation:

•    Transition Towns, a platform for UK communities to come together and respond to challenges of Peak Oil and Climate Change. The movement is spreading globally.
•    US Skunkworks for Innovation, a local innovation fund managed by US Corporation for National and Community Service to address global issues with grass-roots solutions. This sort of fund would likely support things like Transition Towns.
•    Mastercard and The Eden Project: 
Mastercard is launching what it describes as its first CSR themed campaign—“The Big Lunch”—a partnership with The Eden Project in the UK. It is a ‘social cohesion scheme’ aimed at getting the whole of the UK to sit down with their neighbors on the street to have lunch, according to Marketing Week. The initiative has already been praised by the UK Secretary of Communities.
•    Craiglist for Service: 
Craig Newark’s idea to engage citizen actions that can be ‘sold’ or traded via his listings platform. His focus is on civic engagement, grass-roots democracy, volunteering or pooling cash to fund initiatives.
•    Serve America Act and Serve.gov provide a platform for those who want to fully engage by supporting Americorps and figure out how to better help America. A new community innovation fund is planned for this act.
•    Social Innovation Camp, a UK experiment in creating social innovations for the digital age that brings together talented software developers and designers with social innovators to build web-based solutions to real social problems. It is a self-organized version of the community innovation fund described above.

Collaborative Networked Business Models

Example business models that put citizens at the core of value creation and actors in the delivery of the service itself. Citizens and their needs ARE the assets of this type of business model:

•    Zopa, a marketplace where people lend and borrow money to and from each other—a peer-to-peer lending platform—that sidesteps the banks. It’s exemplary in this era of failed financial services and financial corruption, and a sign of emerging citizen empowerment.
•    Hello Health: the old fashioned model of doctor services built on a powerful social media platform shared by doctors and patients alike. Patients and their data plus doctors and their knowledge are all actors in the system of health, each taking an active and ongoing role. The model encourages both doctor and citizen to become vested and active participants in maintaining good health.
•    Freecycle: the Freecycle Network is made up of 4,739 groups with 6,694,000 members across the globe. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. An exchange of value and movement created solely by citizen engagement.

Advancing Social Status

The School of Life: billed as a cultural apothecary for the mind, The School of Life sells ideas and inspiration, from evening courses to curated holidays, secular sermons to psychotherapy. Here’s a report on it at Monocle.

New Social Tools

Meet-Up: the world’s largest network of local groups and one of the leading citizen engagement tools – enabling active citizen groups to self-organise and come together around interests. See it in use at the Social Innovation Camp.

- Contributed by Tamara Giltsoff, independent Sustainability Strategist. See tamaragiltsoff.com

[image via Social Innovation Camp]

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