What’s Broken is the We — Some Thoughts on Creativity for the Common Good

Author +
Vivian Hutchinson

Year: 2013

Those of us working in the community sector need to get out of our issue-based silos and come to events like this and take the time to be amongst people who are not used to being together and start having the conversations that lead to new possibilities.

From my point of view, the place where our creativity is most needed right now, is at the very heart of our communities and how we address our basic social and environmental challenges. Perhaps it is even deeper than that. The creativity that we need right now is a creativity that can foster and support the very idea of community itself.

… Too many of our social services are just organising problems, rather than solving or healing them. Social innovation and social entrepreneurship really starts to emerge when we make that switch in thinking … and take up that deeper creative challenge of social change.

This unfortunately is something that is not yet well understood by those who fund social service activities in our communities. I think it would be fair to say that there is a lot more funding available for projects that are managing problems, than there is for the people and projects that are working to heal them.

But social entrepreneurs are not called to their work simply to commodify problems … and then earn a living out of them. We are here to permanently alter the perceptions, behaviours and structures that are creating the problems in the first place. We want real impact and real change … and there is no doubting that this “creativity for the common good” will be disruptive to the status quo.

… Our capacity for community is hard-wired. Perhaps it’s even a part of our DNA.

Biologists tell us that Life exists to create the conditions that are conducive for life. Life is its own virtuous circle.

And I think it is the same with human beings and communities … communities are our most natural structure for belonging. Healthy communities are their own virtuous circles. They are how we as human beings do our version of Life.

Business is an important part of communities — it is quite critical in terms of livelihood and plainly getting so much done. But there really is no “business case” for communities themselves any more than there is a business case for making love or growing our families.

The in-built wisdom of why and how we can create and sustain our communities is deeply woven into our beings. It is a wisdom that is tens of thousands of years old. Perhaps it is our original language.

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About the Author:
vivian Hutchinson QSM is a community activist and social entrepreneur who has worked mainly on issues of race relations, social justice, job creation and philanthropy. In 2006 he was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for Community Services (QSM) in the New Zealand New Years Honours, in recognition of this work. He is the author of the book How Communities Heal — stories of social innovation and social change (2012). His latest projects are about how to foster more active citizenship and generous engagement on our most important community issues.