Innovative resources for reviving local communities

I’ve been following OpenIDEO for some time now and I am constantly amazed at the sheer amount of ideas that people from all over the world generate for each topic challenged. OpenIDEO is an “open innovation platform” that strives to “support people to design together for social good” and it places communities (be they online or offline) at the centre of an entire problem-solving mechanism. The trick is that the ideas undergo three phases – inspiration, concepting and evaluation. This split in the innovation process allows for the ideas to be refined and filtered in order to become feasible and more impactful. At the end of this process, the strongest ideas are chosen and shared so that they can be put in practice by their creators themselves, and replicated globally in various communities.

An interesting case was the challenge on restoring vibrancy in run-down cities. It was originated by a large furniture company from the Detroit area in US, which recognized the importance of engaging the local communities in the process of improving the liveability of the city.  Most of the 20 winning ideas could be taken as examples of concrete actions that can be replicated in cities around the world. One project that resonates with CRIDL is the OpenCity idea, which aims to make use of smart apps and technology to facilitate collaboration between city residents on issues that could improve their own neighbourhoods.

What’s more, there’s another idea that could be useful if adapted to Romania’s context of foggy administrative rules, as it sets as a purpose to “Decode the codes” – by compiling an online user-friendly manual on how to navigate through the jungle of permits needed to start a small local initiative like an urban garden or a concert.

With our project, Heritage 2.0, CRIDL is also developing a similar mechanism  for preserving the local cultural heritage. It strives to unite the knowledge of experts and local communities into a virtual knowledge platform and  make the preservation of local values a process embraced by the local stakeholders and shared with the wider public.  

This tool for designing solutions to social problems may also be the next big thing to break the so-called divide between the public sector, the private sector and the civil society. One feature it has is the fact that any organisation can start a “challenge” and ask for contributions to a problem they are faced with. An example is the latest “challenge” of the website, where the European Commission itself engaged in such an ideation process. It recently partnered with OpenIDEO and launched one question in search of ideas for supporting web entrepreneurs take their start-ups to the global level. The Commission also promises to implement some of the best solutions proposed by the solvers in the future.  If such a process were used more widely, it has the potential to restore the flow of ideas between the three sectors and engage them in a constructive feedback loop much better than the usual public consultations do.

Restart Romania is a resource Romanian social entrepreneurs also have in the spirit of OpenIDEO, and it definitely is a growing platform worth contributing to and following. If you know of any other similar ideas already happening around the world or locally, please do share with us!  The resources are there to build on and in time they can definitely be brought closer to home and turned into reality with inspired people working on that. 

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