A window on Workshop 1

The first research workshop for our project was held on Friday 2 February, and was a great success despite the best efforts of the rain.  Together we were able to explore what values and practices enable the work of Cultivate, whether as an organisation, as individual members of staff, or in the wider community.  A value is something that is important to us (such as respecting people’s time), and a practice is how we do that (such as punctuality).  Some values may require several different practices.

Workshop picture - smallAn output from the workshop

One of the topics for the workshop was, what is the difference between a return on investment (ROI), a social return on investment (SROI), and a community economy return on investment (CEROI)? These terms are defined below:

Return on Investment:  an investor buys a stock has the value of that stock plus a dividend payment predicated on company performance. A bank lends a business money and gets an interest payment as a return on investment.

Social Return on Investment:  the idea attempts to capture the benefits that accrue to a individuals and communities when they invest in a business or organisation run for purpose:  A social enterprise generates employment for unemployed youth (who become tax paying citizens) but also the avoided costs of what happens to chronically unemployed (greater strain on mental, physical health infrastructure, the prison system etc).

Community Economy Return on Investment:  is the way in which certain kinds of investment allow us to take back the economy—that is to say investment that permit us to survive well together, to create organisations where that is easier to do so, to encounter one another more equitably, to build and care for commons… We recognise that realising these gains (and measuring them) requires us to have a sense of what adds value to our lives, allows for its flourishing.

The first two (ROI, SROI) have clear returns that can be measured using their monetary value, regardless of whether this is paid to the investor (such as an interest payment) or an avoided cost (such as avoided health costs or increased tax revenue).

CEROI is harder to measure, because we are interested in how inputs combine with relationships — both from inside and outside Cultivate — to affect transformative change. The objective of Workshop 1 was to begin the process of examining assessing a CEROI for Cultivate, through exploring values and practices.  Those values and practices contribute to the wellbeing of interns, staff, and the wider community.

Work on analysing the outputs of the workshop is still ongoing, but the initial report is expected by the end of March.

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