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Tag: Social Sustainability

Interview mit The European

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Think Tank 30, Club of Rome

// Nachhaltiger Wandel

Der think tank 30 des Club of Rome ist ein interdisziplinäres Netzwerk von 30 Leuten um die 30, welcher sich mit den verschiedenen Facetten rundum das Thema Nachhaltigkeit befasst. Der TT30 wurde 2004 gegründet. Sein Ziel ist es, an den gesellschaftlichen Debatten mitzuwirken und die Zukunft mitzugestalten. Nachhaltig.

// TT30 in der Praxis

Wir treffen uns zweimal im Jahr. Die letzten beiden Treffen waren im Juni zum Thema „Vom Wissen zum Handeln“  und im November zu „Soziale Teilhabe“. Ganzjährlich befassen sich Projektgruppen mit den Themen Zukunftsverantwortung und ökologische, soziale sowie ökonomische Nachhaltigkeit. So arbeitet ein Team zurzeit daran, die sieben antiken Tugenden auf die Gegenwart zu beziehen. Bei der Tugend Weisheit gehen wir z.B. auf Fragen rundum nachhaltige Bildung wie Bildungsgerechtigkeit und Bildungsvielfalt ein. Auch bietet der TT30 einen Referentenpool an.

// Bis Ende Januar bewerben

Der TT30 nimmt zu Beginn des Jahres neue Mitglieder auf. Bewerben kann man sich bis zum 31. Januar mit CV und Motivationsschreiben, in dem insbesondere auf die folgenden drei Fragen eingegangen werden sollte:

  • Welche gesellschaftlich relevante Themen beschäftigen Dich zur Zeit?
  • Hast Du Dich zu diesen Themen bereits engagiert? In welcher Form?
  • Was interessiert Dich am Think Tank? Wie möchtest Du Dich in diesen einbringen?

Social Incubator for Social Entrepreneurship

// New core team

This month the new core team, a fascinating group of people from various socio-cultural, regional and academic backgrounds, will continue what its predecessor has started. Zahnräder is almost two years old and over sixty people actively engage in the network’s organisation in various working and functional groups. Its mission can be conceptualized as a social incubator providing human, social, financial and cultural capital to social entrepreneurs. It is an enabling and encouraging platform acting as an uncle-doctor (or aunt) substitution system. More here.

// Energy -> movement -> social innovation

Zahnräder transforms individual energy into collective movement. Together, the Räder – wheels or gears – create change in and for society. The Zahnräder Network attempts to encourage as well as enable efficient and effective interaction by equipping its participants with knowledge to fish rather than the fish itself. And it provides a place – on- and offline – for structured interaction to contribute to a socially sustainable, innovative and multifaceted society.

networks for social sustainability

I have just published an article on about networks and social sustainability. Networks are described as institutionalized platforms which encourage and enable exchange, interaction and all kinds of transfer. These networks can help us striving for social sustainability.

// An “uncle doctor substitute support system”

The socio-economic or ethnic background should not matter in a meritocratic society. But it does. There simply is a huge discrepancy between what is and what should. This is not socially sustainable. Social sustainability is one of the three pillars of sustainability – next to economic and environmental sustainability. It is all about people, planet and profit – though I don’t think profit captures it. But value does not start with a „p“, does it? But let us focus on people in this blogpost.

Networks have to substitute the missing uncle doctor. People from lower social or educational classes simply have a lower density and access to uncle doctors. Uncle doctor (or aunt doctor) hereby stand for a wise person, who can provide advice and help in all kinds of areas. Networks can act as an “uncle doctor substitute support system”.

// Us & between us

We essentially have us and what is between us: We could call us actors or agents and the between us a system or structure. Or in terms of network theory we have nods, connections and relations. Nodes are stations, connections are rails and the relations are trains travelling on rails between certain stations. We are nods connected to each other with certain kinds of relations.

These networks could and should strive for social sustainability. They key is to allow for changemakers and allow changemakers making change happen. Simplified we have two ingredients. Ingredient one: the person, actor, agent or nod: this entity needs to ask himself two questions: How can I help you? And: how can you help my network? Ingredient two: the system, structure or connections and relations. These need to encourage and enable interaction and exchange. Both together create a willingness and an ability to change.

// How to fish?

How does this look practically? As often: it depends. There are many ways to facilitate this. The goal is the creation of ability on the one hand and the usability on the other hand. The Zahnräder Network attempts to encourage as well as enable efficient and effective interaction by equiping its participants with knowledge to fish rather than the fish itself. And it provides a place – on- and offline – for structured interaction. More on Zahnräder in my blogpost for August.

// Shaping society

Ability and usability can be paired and focused on participating in and for a pluralistic and socially sustainable society. Networks can substitute the uncle doctor and contribute to social sustainability. In this society, no one must have the response – but everyone should feel responsable.

Zahnräder Network

// Goals

Zahnräder is an organization from Muslims for society. It is an enabling and encouraging platform which provides human, social and financial capital as well as motivation and credibility. The idea is to facilitate, to teach how to fish, not to give fish. Knowledge of all types is transferred – from tacit to explicit, individual to social, declarative, procedural, causal, conditional, relational to pragmatic knowledge. Similarly networks are built and a tertius iungens orientation (Obstfeld, 2005) of trying to connect people from your network with each other encouraged.

I generally ask people when they meet another person to think about two things:

  1. How can I help this person?
  2. How can this person help people in my network?

This is a mentality shift of always attempting to help everyone around you which I experienced in Oxford from so many of my colleagues. It is a wonderful and helpful way of approaching others. And it benefits Zahnräder, too.

Ability Usability
Internal Human Capital Cultural Capital, Motivation
External Social Capital Financial Capital, Credibility

Zahnräder transforms individual energy into collective movement. Together, the Räder – wheels or gears – create change in and for society. We are functioning thereby as a complement, not a substitute to existing organizations – enabling & encouraging changemakers.

// Structure

Currently, over 60 people are involved in the organization of Zahnräder. Communication is primarily online via skype, basecamp and email. We are organized in a matrix-like organization with functional groups on the horizontal and working groups on the vertical axis. Functional groups are inter alia finance, communication and IT. Working groups are the conference team and ZahnräderX local teams.

// The national conference

The national conference is currently the heart of Zahnräder. Over 100 participants come together – all of them as producers and no one just as a consumer. It is all about sharing: sharing knowledge, sharing your network, sharing what drives you, your goals, your ambitions, your vision. Participants speak about their projects, receive feedback, knowledge. Some join projects they encounter some recommend it to their friends.

// Quo vadis?

We managed to shift from a starting phase to a growth phase. We intend to have over 120 Zahnräder involved in the organization primarily by extending our functional and working groups. The idea is to be sustainable internally and provide sustainable services externally. From October onwards, we are aiming to have a Human Resource and from December onwards an Internal Communication functional group. Also, we plan to establish a Zahnräder think tank.