Czech NaNet’s Social Innovation Platform
The SEiSMiC National Network (NaNet) in the Czech Republic is helping to shape social innovation in the country by focusing on four primary areas: new urban governance; education for citizenship and the promotion of volunteerism; social inclusion; and social entrepreneurship.
New urban governance
Participants at NaNet meetings are discussing issues related to urban development and considering suggestions on how to make optimal use of new urban space, while at the same time imagining an expanded role for public space in cities. Many of the most fruitful social innovations are in fact the result of exploring different ways to use or create public space, and much recent discussion has centred on providing public space access to local organisations and disadvantaged groups of people, including immigrants.
As this is a challenging area of work for the SEiSMiC project, participation at these meetings provides crucial input to the decision-making process — and participation should be open to everyone! Each city’s statutory body is responsible for submitting a concept for urban development, and we believe that all citizens should get personally involved in such efforts. Part of our job is to help identify groups of people that are not as involved in the process as they should be or want to be.
Education for citizenship and the promotion of volunteerism
We at the Faculty of Humanities of Charles University, as coordinators of SEiSMiC in the Czech Republic, believe that the lack of direct participation by citizens in decision-making processes is a significant problem. Cities should support urban initiatives, and regular citizens’ meetings should be organised so that citizens can help steer local policy following in-depth discussion on specific topics and issues of particular concern.
It is vital to hear the voices of minority groups within the wider urban community. In terms of developing new forms of local urban economy, we strive to incorporate these voices into our exchanges of experience.
Entrepreneurship is a centre of interest within all SEiSMiC topics. Social capital shapes living conditions in a given area, and social enterprise is one way of creating valuable employment for socially disadvantaged people, whether Roma, homeless people or refugees. There are several examples in the Czech Republic of giving work to people who lack basic education or skills. Employment gives them a sense of purpose and of belonging to the wider community.
SEiSMiC’s Czech National Network held a workshop on January 13, 2016, focusing on the theme “New Urban Economy: Economic Activities for Communities”, highlights of which you can watch here. You can also check out two interviews that were conducted at the workshop and uploaded to YouTube: the first is with Rut Kolinska, president of the Czech Network of Mother Centres; and the second is with Roman Haken, a member of the European Economic and Social Committee.