Can social change be co-created?

Recently the Young Foundation’s Social Innovation Exchange (SIX) and Knowledgeland co-hosted the ‘The Co-creation of Democracy: Citizen Passion in the 21st Century’ Spring School which explored the role of co-creation and citizen-led innovation through first-hand accounts of inspiring stories from around the world – from the non-violent demonstrations in the streets of Cairo to innovative solutions to social welfare in Australia, to Soul City a broadcast in South Africa, achieving real, measurable social change for individuals and communities.

Co-creation is transforming the relationship that people have with their communities and governing institutions as it challenges the traditional top-down approach to solving social problems. The ethos of co-creation is that citizens from all walks of life can and do shape their world around them.

Examples like Pendrecht University, which literally turn the table on traditional decision making structures as local government officials become ‘students’ and neighbourhood residents the ‘professors’ , and the Choi Yuen Village protests in Hong Kong against forced eviction are real life co-created movements which have had a transformative impact.

It is also important to create opportunities for co-creation to occur in new settlements because it can empower residents to get more involved in their community and also improve social ties. Persuasive evidence from the Development Trust Association and other community empowerment models shows that having a strong community organisation can be effective at influencing local services, encouraging community initiatives and giving people a voice in dealing with the whole range of issues that impact on a community’s everyday existence.

Inspiring case studies are the Bridges community project an initiative of Royal Docks Community Church and managed by local residents and the Blacon Community Trust which has successfully enabled local residents to engage with service providers to improve local services and facilities.

For more information on how new settlements provide an opportunity for co-creation – with residents in command of what happens locally check out the Future Communities website.

Post by Tricia Hackett.