What is the story we will tell?

Posted by Janice Scheckter on 11 February 2016 8:45 AM CAT

When our grandchildren ask about what life was like, what will we tell them? Will we tell them that we were among the generations that learnt real lessons from the past, that we despised the vast disparities between people, that globally there was enough for all, that this was shared and that we embraced the collaborative era? That we shared ideas and solutions to major and minor challenges with communities that shared purpose?

I have just completed a year of mentorship with Roger Hamilton, an extraordinary entrepreneurial guide and futurist. He shares a concept that his mentor shared with him. “Your future self is your best mentor”. If this is true, then can we not hold true that our future-imagined society is our best compass?

I have put out there that my company is working on a City Network project where we firmly believe that citizens will collaborate to fix broken cities. It’s bold and audacious but two years of research and learning have guided us to this place and so I return to my original question – what is the story we will tell?

My reading and research highlight what the collaborative era means to cities and metros. Cities are evolving as independent economic hubs, driven in the US especially, largely by collaborations between mayors, business and civil society.  In their book, The Metropolitan Revolution, which has been added to my list of collaborative worship, Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley, note the following…”in the end, collaboration and network building are the most important foundations for transformative action in a city and metropolis. Everything that follows – vision, strategy, tactics and impact – is derivative.”

Monday I spent my morning at Zandspruit Primary School where the Ducere Foundation and Monash University hosted former Australian PM, Julia Guillard.  Getting to the school was pretty tough, with very uneven dirt roads, further tarnished by water leaks and piles of garbage. The school has over 50 children in a classroom and insufficient teachers to deal with the numbers. The odds are not in favour of positive learning outcomes.

So here’s the story I’d like to tell – my city focused on educating every child really well. My city created employment opportunities for teachers and trainers and found professional and artisanal skills within communities that could be passed on. My city bred a society that was holistically mindful, shedding parochial blinkers. My city embraced the collaborative era.

Janice Scheckter is a collaborative activist and co-founder of Indigo New Media, a company with an audacious goal.

Credit: Photograph: www.freeimages.com/Julia Freeman-Woolpert

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