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Anatomy of a Change-Maker: Part 3

“True innovation does not exist without sharing. If you do not open up and share, it is not innovative because innovation is something that changes, it is a living thing. Citizen innovation is about creating a network between individuals, ideas and infrastructure. Innovation is not about institutions, it is about creativity in scarcity, in poverty, based on people’s needs. If people have the right infrastructure, ideas and individuals, then they can do citizen innovation. It happens at a grass roots level.”

Georgia Haddad Nicolau, Director of the Procomum Insitute in Sao Paolo and a leader in the citizen innovation movement.

Georgia is one of 200 change-makers worldwide that I have interviewed for my forthcoming book, Generation Share. Published by Policy Press for Global Sharing Week 2019 (June 16th-22nd), Generation Share, a collaboration with visual storyteller, Sophie Sheinwald, takes people on a much needed journey of hope to meet the change-makers who are building a society fuelled by Sharing.

Three years of research for Generation Share, has shown me that change-makers have 6 all-important character traits that make up the Anatomy of a Change-Maker. Previously, I detailed the first characteristic, being a Sharer and last week, I revealed the second trait, bravery. Today, I’m talking about our ability to change.

Change-Maker Characteristic Number Three:

ADAPTABILITY: When you meet Georgia Haddad Nicolau, it’s clear from the outset that this is a woman who understands change from the inside out. Passionate and forthright, her work demonstrates the importance of the commons and the rights of citizens to create solutions and shape their future in the face of transformation caused by technology. Previously Brazil’s Director of the Secretariat for Creative Economy (2013-4) and the Ministry of Culture’s Secretariat for Cultural Policies (2015-6), Georgia is a leader in what’s known as the citizen innovation movement. The Procomum Institute was created in 2015 and evolved out of a number of ground-up, citizen innovation initiatives including the Protest Laboratory (LabxS). Their focus is to rethink the role of free culture organisations in the face of tranformations caused by the Internet.

“We embrace failure, we see life as a process, you do not need to have things perfectly ready to go. Everything we do is open-licensed, people can share information. We document the process using technology so that the learning continues. It is not only creating solutions, but creating bonds and empathy, remembering that we are all humans and have the means to think for ourselves.”

Adaptability is at the heart of citizen innovation; the work that Georgia leads to ‘build the common everyday’ brings networks of people, initiatives and infrastructures from different parts of the world and Brazil together, to search for create and ideate alternative ways of living, producing and building an emerging translocal citizenship. This constantly evolving, open, participatory process enables and empowers citizens to find solutions to the biggest challenges of poverty and inequality themselves.

“We strive for ‘well living for all’, the impact of citizen innovation is seen through entrepreneurship; it’s about people developing their own solutions. We focus on how to experiment with new and alternative ways of what inclusion and poverty means. If we continue to exclude people, there is no systemic change. We research alternative ways of living and ask questions like ‘how much money do we need to live? Can we use time banks, social currencies, Sharing Economy platforms and ideas?’. If people are focussed on consumption rather than citizenship, poverty will continue to be a problem. You see this happen, when the economy is good, people consume more, but you go to the favelas and they have a television but no electricity, no sanitation, no education.”

Being a change-maker as Georgia demonstrates means being adaptable; being open to constantly learning and using the new knowledge gained, to change accordingly. Change is not easy, but is a vital part of the citizen innovation process.

“We work on the concept of a commons based economy. We have experiments where people are creating their own money, building their own neighbourhoods, growing their own food in community gardens.”

Of the 200 change-makers interviewed for Generation Share, all of them demonstrate adaptability, a willingness to learn, move forward, and find better solutions to build a better world.

As Georgia says “there’s a whole eco-system that is developing and growing based on citizen innovation. It’s ground up, created by citizens to build the future they want and need.”

Generation Share will be published by Policy Press in June 2019 for Global Sharing Week. You can now pre-order your copy here.

If you are interested in change-making and want to take part in my #CHANGE! project email me or join the conversation on Twitter #CHANGE! @benitamatofska

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