Enabling local collaborations to support our highstreets and local communities...
Lockdown has had a huge impact on our local businesses and communities. Many of our favourite cafes, independent coworking spaces, affordable event spaces, bars, pubs and restaurants that we have taken for granted are now struggling to survive. Losing these community assets will have a massive cultural and economic impact on our local neighbourhoods. So how can we help these independent businesses and spaces become more financially resilient? How do we save our highstreets? How do we breakthrough our lockdown blues?
Perhaps an answer could be establishing a Citizen's Action Network that could in time evolve into a Platform Cooperative.
Let's first define these two terms...
A Citizens's Action Network or CAN is a community building methodology that has been developed by The Alternative UK. The CAN model has been prototyped in local communities across the country. The idea is to begin with 'Friendly' gatherings for neighbours to meet and listen to each other's stories and perspectives on how to improve their local neighbourhood. The best ideas are then taken forward into a 'Collaboratory' format which is designed to create practical solutions and working groups that citizen's in the network can participate in.
What begins as a network of volunteers can eventually evolve into a Platform.Cooperative, which can be defined as a cooperatively owned, democratically governed organisation that establishes a website to facilitate the sale of goods and/or services. Platform cooperatives are an alternative to venture capital-funded platforms insofar as they are owned and governed by those who depend on them most—workers, users, and other relevant stakeholders.
Imagine inviting small business owners to present their challenges and then having a diverse network of engaged citizens using their skills to help out. We could even go one step further and facilitate collaborations between local businesses through a local accelerator programme, creating shared digital tools and resources that can deliver immediate and tangible value.