(Photo credit: Loreto Oyarte Galvez – High resolution mycelium network)
We’re all about relationships. But if you’re reading this, I bet you already know that. Afterall, the opening words of our website spell it out:
“…we work with members of all communities to start up and support businesses for good, build productive networks of enterprises and non-profit organisations, and engage large anchor institutions to unlock their transformative potential.”
So, we’re thrilled to announce that we’re now part of the new Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Alliance, an important new network of Torbay organisations who are working to deliver innovative and effective adult social care in our community. We’ve yet to have our first meeting, but already the intention is to do things differently, smarter, better, to work in ways that lift up, inspire, and amplify the good work that’s already in process, and the initiatives that are just being dreamed up. One thing is for sure, everyone in this budding alliance is about doing good by ‘unlocking the collective genius’ of our communities.
That phrase is lent to us generously from our good friend and neighbour, Rob Hopkins, from Dartington, who is one of the co-founders of the Transition Town movement. Transition Town Totnes was the first and now there are over a thousand all over the world comprising a ‘trans-local’ network of change makers and social innovators who are all working collaboratively in their communities to increase wellbeing, reduce carbon emissions, and build resilience. He talks about how bringing people together in ways that foster creative participation can ‘unlock their collective genius.’ Many of you know this is true because you’ve seen it happen in your own work right here in Torbay.
For the last few years – yes, mostly in lockdown – we’ve been quietly building the foundations for unlocking the genius and collaborative energy of all kinds in this wonderful place. Many of you are part of the Torbay Social Enterprise Network. We try to make connections amongst and between, sharing info and resources, and bringing us together for regular meet-ups.
And many of you know that we’re part of the Community Wealth Building Board and its Procurement Sub-Committee. This is all about forging productive connections with ‘anchor institutions’ to help facilitate making the best use of their economic resources, such as purchasing, for the local economy.
We’re also a core member of Local Motion, a new collective of local organisations and six major grant-making foundations. We’re all working together to co-create pathways to systemic solutions for childhood poverty and food security. You’ll be hearing more about this in the very near future. And you’ll be hearing more about the Torbay Food Partnership, a related collective effort to build food resilience in Torbay.
We participate in a few other networks, too, such as the Devon Doughnut Collective, Regenerate Devon and the international REconomy Community of Practice, all of which are about citizen-led economic transformation.
What all of these networks provide is a kind of amplification of our own capabilities and an expansion of new possibilities. Networks like these allow us to dream big and align ourselves with other big dreamers, because although there isn’t one organisation or council that can save the world – or Torbay – all by itself. But collectively, we can align, look outside the four walls of our own organisation, and together transform the economy of Torbay to be ecologically wise and socially thriving, inclusive and fair, diverse and resilient. Imagine if everyone here felt safe and secure knowing their needs will be met, that we all have a chance to live decent and fulfilling lives. Wouldn’t that be a great legacy to leave our children.
‘Regenerative’ basically means ‘bringing back to life, to flourish and thrive’. Networks of mycelium do this for the plant kingdom and for ecosystems. They help to create the conditions for life. We hope that the networks we’re part of – which include you! – are doing the same in our community, creating the fertile soil we need to grow something abundant and wonderful. So, join us for events, keep tabs on our newsletter and socials, and we’ll see what grows together.
By the way, if you’re interested in further reading on networks, here are some resources we recommend:
- The Networked Nonprofit – https://ssir.org/articles/entry/the_networked_nonprofit
- The New Network Leader – https://newnetworkleader.org
- Translocal empowerment in transformative social innovation networks – https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09654313.2019.1578339