Inclusive growth: the type of people we badly need

Imagine your city as a treasure map. In order to unlock the biggest prize, you need to identify two seemingly unrelated treasure chests and put them together. Now, the magic begins..

The RSA has recently launched the Inclusive Growth Commission. Its goal is to define the best tools and policies allowing a wider group benefit from generated growth. David Boyle, the head of the Commission, posted an interesting and thought-provoking blog on what type of people do we actually need to make growth in our cities (and beyond) more inclusive. There is one type, though, I think is missing from the list.

The connector.

When we talk about growth, we talk about all kinds of resources. When we talk about resources, we immediately launch into a discussion about availability, access, and distribution. And when we talk about that, we’re unable to (and we shouldn’t) avoid talking about power and conflict.

Scarcity fuels growth, but it also puts many in danger of being excluded. But imagine there are people in your local community who:

  1. have an ample knowledge about both the supply and the demand side: available resources and those potentially competing for them;
  2. have the skills to anticipate, map and manage conflicts related to these resources.

Or else, imagine a person who knows all the passionate, skilful people in his or her community, maybe living on its fringes, and is capable of making inapparent connections – say, sit together a shoemaker with decades of experience with a geeky shoe fashion freak. Could this potentially lead to a fruitful cooperation? You bet!

The benefits.

The potential is considerable. By working with connectors, the municipality can gain knowledge that will allow it to identify areas where people fall out of the system, and design policies that level the paying field. Conflict, when well-managed can be one of the greatest sources of information and often proves to be helpful in building social capital – crucial to inclusive growth.

Do you think we need connectors in our communities? Do you know any in yours? Comment or tweet @justynakrol

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