Recently I was very fortunate to tag along with a delegation of incredible community and student leaders from the Boston area who participate in the Solidarity Economy Initiative and Center for Economic Democracy and Tufts New Economy. Together we visited Montreal to learn from practitioners about local efforts to build the social or solidarity economy.
Speaking with local practitioners, we learned about an available apartment designated specifically “for someone who will never earn income again;” a seasonal, manufactured, beach front – designed on land used to store snow in winter – that boosts social engagement and enjoyment of the coast; and a flourishing farmer’s marketplace that offers community lunch and movie nights.
Our visit included time spent with:
- Milton Park Community, a cooperative of social organizations that preserve affordable housing in city center, support nearly a dozen commercial enterprises and house a community center with co-located charitable/nonprofit organizations
- La Pépinière, a charitable organization leading the placemaking movement in Quebec with more than 30 projects dedicated to building more participative cities through the creation of collective spaces
- CDC Centre-Sud, a community development organization that operates a nonprofit center and facilitates connections and programming among dozens of organizations serving Montreal’s Centre-Sud neighborhood.
While these organizations have different missions, each strives to build communication, trust and action among participating organizations and individuals, not only for effectiveness or efficiency but for broader positive benefits to entire communities.
This idea resonated strongly with my work at the Nonprofit Centers Network and the work of our members.
While we all focus on different missions, as a network we are strengthening shared space and social purpose real estate and growing shared back office services. We are sharing collaborative resources, strategies and lessons learned. And together, we are guided by a hope of doing things in a new way, one that is better for our stakeholders, our organizations and our society as a whole.