Edgeryders was conceived from within an European institution – the Council of Europe – as a distributed think tank that would mobilize the wisdom and experience of European citizens, especially the younger ones. Its goal was to think hard about a very difficult problem, transitioning from youth to adulthood in a time of crisis, and producing policy recommendations. And we did that. But since the early days it was clear that some of the more creative members of the community – while certainly willing to discuss and advise – focus most of their passion in doing things. This became impossible to ignore in December 2012, when we discovered that Edgeryders had submitted seven projects to the European Social Innovation Competition. This is an outstanding number: the total number of submissions, for the whole of Europe, was 606. Does our community really have more than 1% of a whole continent’s socially innovative potential?
Whatever its precise measure, we do seem to have a large potential. Many of us are good at thinking way outside the box; and the incredible diversity (of age, country, gender, net worth and walks of life) of this community is a powerful boost to such challenging, radical thinking. We find it quite natural to look for ech other’s collaboration – I have seen several projects spin off involving Edgeryders from different countries, and I myself have involved @Anthony and Gaia in Masters of Networks and Ben and the unMonastery crowd in the unMonastery prototype in Matera. So here is my proposal: our projects can benefit from being somehow linked to each other.
“Linked” does not mean “set in a hierarchy”. You have your project, you are the only one that has any hope of seeing it through. I am not thinking of an army, rather of a weather front: no cloud formation is subordinated to any other. There are no vetoes, not tune to march on. But there is plenty of interaction, and the result is a big storm. If you feel you are on the same front; if you, like me, can’t unsee society undergoing terrible strains, and smell big (and not always pleasant) changes in the air; if you have a vision you are trying to make come true, and could use some smart, generous people as sounding board and collaborators; then you might consider adding your own projects to the about ten already listed on this website.
Here’s what’s in it for you: give each other advice (according to time and competences); recruit each other (some of that going on already); use Edgeryders social media presence to promote your idea as part of a powerhouse of bottom-up socially innovative projects; link the projects side of things with the knowledge work side of things – because it seems that the distributed think tank is also here to stay, at least for a while, and @nadia has already secured a first project to investigate the Baltic Region (some of you have already been involved). The think tank work should hopefully be able to keep Living On The Edge conferences going. I expect she will be blogging about this as she develops it.