The world is in a transformative moment. The choices we make now, and in the coming years, will determine the future for generations to come.

 

Together We Can

Despite the commendable efforts of many, our communities continue to grapple with growing systemic challenges. It’s becoming clear that solutions to these challenges can’t be found within the same system that birthed and perpetuates these issues.

Present structures, deeply embedded in top-down power hierarchies and wealth extraction, loom large. While external forces, armed with significant power and wealth, stand ready to shape our future. These dynamics have left communities vulnerable and under-equipped to meet the complex and interdependent challenges they are facing. 

By wisely utilizing the best of the current system as a foundation, we can develop resilient community systems that foster individual and collective flourishing.

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

Buckminster Fuller

 

Community Wealth Building

Innovative communities and countries have turned to an approach called Community Wealth Building to rebuild community resilience. The approach has been demonstrated to advance social equity, provide higher wages, and cultivate collaborative capacities for collective well-being.

Community Wealth Building has been successful in locations like Cleveland, Ohio, and has recently been adopted by Scotland in their pursuit of a well-being economy. It moves beyond building single businesses, and instead takes a systems approach to community economic development.

However, it is also important to acknowledge the limits of current approaches to Community Wealth Building, particularly the reliance on cooperatives as the main legal vehicle, which have limited scalability. For our communities to truly flourish, we need a new framework capable of navigating the complexity of our times.

Leaders in the area:

Community Enterprise

In partnership with the Okanagan coLab, an entrepreneurial community center, community members have been co-creating a scaleable framework for Community Wealth Building. We’ve called the framework a Community Enterprise, and the pilot initiative is called the Okanagan Circular Society (OCS).

The holistic OCS Community Enterprise framework utilizes an overarching not-for-profit corporation with subsidiary for-profit corporations, blending community aspects of worker cooperatives with the scalability and flexibility of corporate conglomerates.

Transformative Community Innovations

Leading research highlights the need to integrate the following four community innovations into holistic systems that rebuild collective power. Each of them is woven throughout the Community Enterprise framework.

1. GOVERNANCE: Many Voices, One Song

The OCS uses Sociocracy and Holacracy, proven governance and organizational models, to distribute power and ensure transparency with consent-based decision-making.

2. CULTURE: The Collaborative Power of Circle

Circular practices foster diversity of perspectives, soulful belonging, and cultural inclusion. Circular organizational environments also promote individual and collective well-being.

3. ENTREPRENEURSHIP: From Siloed to Community

Community entrepreneurship focuses on developing collectively owned value-generating ecosystems across community sectors. It builds off and is supportive of social entrepreneurship.

4. OWNERSHIP & CAPITAL: Community Wealth Building

By integrating the best of siloed non/for-profits, charities, foundations, and governmental organizations into collaborative frameworks we can begin to rebuild community wealth.

The innovations within the Community Enterprise framework unlock potential for collaboratively rebuilding resilient community systems with both the economic and political power to collectively address, and transform, the systematic challenges facing communities. 

Transformational Fuel

Together we have the resources, expertise, and imagination to co-create a thriving future for our children and grandchildren.

Philanthropic Capital

In Canada, $126 billion of capital is controlled by philanthropic foundations. This capital has been extracted from community and now is predominantly invested in the stock market. While their financial returns fund crucial social programs, this model of philanthropy has failed to address growing societal challenges.

Transitioning Businesses

In the next decade, over 70% of Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) owners are planning to sell their businesses, meaning that $2 trillion of assets will be transitioning to new business owners. Many of these businesses are ideal for community ownership, and could form the foundation for rebuilding resilient community systems.

This convergence of philanthropic capital and transitioning SMEs offers a unique, once-in-a-lifetime chance to forge a new path toward Community Wealth Building. With this base combination, we have the potential to develop resilient community-owned systems that energize financial returns, fortify community learning, and accelerate self-governing capacities.

Meeting this opportunity requires developing holistic community infrastructure with integrated legal, tax, finance, and philanthropic pathways. Additionally, cross-sector collaboration is required to facilitate private businesses’ “Exit to Community” and the building of successful community ventures.

Scalable Community Solar

As a potential starting place, the OCS has developed business models for scalable approaches to community owned solar PV, which can be replicated across Canada and beyond. The approach integrates power development methodologies within the Community Enterprise framework. 

Philanthropic foundations and high-net worth individuals who are committed to a future of renewable energy, could invest, and/or, gift their capital into these ventures to accelerate community-owned energy generation.

Learn More

Visit our websites (Okanagan coLab & Okanagan Circular Society) or download the following documentation:

The Time is Now

Embracing the transformative change before us necessitates bold, united action. We need to transcend mere conversations about a flawed system and mobilize leaders and community groups around the collective understanding that profound change is not only attainable but necessary.

The Community Enterprise framework stands as a example of the potential for such integrated transition pathways. It’s a blueprint for transitioning businesses to community ownership in a manner that benefits local communities, and builds the foundation for larger collective and united transformative action.

With adequate resources, the OCS Community Enterprise team is ready to initiate development work on the pilot (see Opportunity Overview document for more details).