March 31, 2009 at 2:00 am 1 comment

I was thinking the other day about how communities of practice could help us navigate the global financial hissy fit (GFHF). There are so many stories coming out of the US about people losing their homes and now news of increasing job losses in Australia. In uncertain times like we’re experiencing, people need to band together, share ideas about how to budget, talk about their hopes and fears, learn how to live with less. I think it’s important not to think you’re going through stuff alone. I met someone the other day who just got the chop from a senior management role. He’d been with the company 20 years. I’d never met him before but as he talked about what happened, he looked…well, the word “shattered” went through my mind.

So why not have GFHF CoPs in your neighbourhood?  Not called this of course, but the notion of community groups or clubs – people coming together regularly to talk, share and learn about our current economic crisis. If people are struggling against alcohol dependency, there’s Alcoholics Anonymous. If you’re struggling against weight issues, there’s Weight Watchers. There are Bible study groups and student groups. So what could there be for people struggling against the rising tide of the GFHF?

When you think about these sorts of clubs and groups, they have the following in common:

  • a passion, need or concern – to learn, to share, to talk, to support, to change
  • storytelling – people opening up and talking about their struggles with alcohol or weight, talking about their weekly successes or challenges, gaining support from each other
  • education – participants share resources and from regular attendance and conversation, people learn, start to ask questions – all of this can lead to change
  • innovative ideas can emerge

So why not have global financial crisis clubs where citizens come together and do any of the following:

  • simply talk about how the world has landed in this mess; what sorts of booms and busts have happened in history before? – it often helps to just simply talk and try to make sense of things
  • share ideas about how to survive the crisis, how to budget, how to approach your bank to talk about your mortgage, how to cut your electricity bills and so on
  • share resources – where to go to in the local community for support, what websites offer useful articles and tips, what books are good to read
  • take action – if someone in your neighbourhood has lost their job or home, the group could talk about how to help that person. Instead of sitting back and muttering “shame”, think about the power of a local group and how it could help.  A local club or group could talk about pooling money to collectively buy weekly groceries or pay electricity bills. Members of the group could offer car pooling to cut down on petrol costs.

No original ideas here. But it strikes me as interesting that we’re not doing this. Or are we? If you are running a GFHF community group, tell me about it.

Entry filed under: Communities of Practice, Social networks, Social problems. Tags: , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. creativespark  |  April 1, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Hi Kim

    Thanks for this. I love the acronym and I love the ideas.

    In Singapore (and it probably applies to other Asian countries) people have this weird sense of secrecy and privacy, even when it’s to their own detriment. For example, salaries are secret. They’re negotiated by haggling during the hiring process and you have no idea how much the person sitting next to you is earning. They could even be doing the same job as you at twice (or half) the rate. Obviously the only person who benefits from that is the employer, yet it would never occur to a workplace to take that power by sharing.

    Sorry, that’s kind of a tangent, but I think the underlying cause is the shame. People are worried that people will think less of them if it’s revealed that they’re feeling the pinch of the GFHF, or that they think relooking at their resource use etc is called for. So they don’t… to their own detriment.

    Really it’s time for a thinkingshift™ in that regard, for our own personal good but also because this situation we’re finding ourselves in as community necessitates compassion and generosity by everyone. It’s really not good enough to take a “survival of the fittest” attitude, otherwise we’ll hurt ourselves and we’ll hurt others.

    Just no group hugs at the end of meetings, OK? I draw the line there.

    =) best wishes


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