I was approached a few months ago by Jay Baker to become involved with his progressive brain child, SilenceBreaker Media. The company is an example of what David Cameron ignores when he is championing his ‘Big Society’. In conjuncture with two other social entrepreneurial companies, Silent Cities and Neighbours Can Help, SilenceBreaker Media will meet the triple bottom approach of social sustainability, economic sustainability and environmental sustainability through recycling technological equipment and providing disadvantaged communities the chance to utilise them whilst teaching them valuable social media skills so they can gain a much needed voice. This is so important, especially considering the current onslaught by the current ConDem government on the lives of so many, through long-term cuts.
The left have often shied away from the Big Society debate, but there is terrain to be won here. Instead of casting it off as a right-wing policy, localism can occur through progressive measures. SilenceBreaker Media is a testament to that. The third sector, can operate through sustainable measures and provide a lived example of how the commercial sector can operate in the interests of fairness and equality (some new words for many commercial sectors, I know!). A way to make sure that sustainability is being achieved through local measures and projects that engage with communicates so often ignored, is through social accounting.
Through social accounting, the social, environmental and economic effects are measured and thus the companies practices are aligned to progressive goals. It is an advancement from the current focus upon solely economic targets of companies. This way of accounting, and this way of providing services is one way of many that the left can use to steal back the initiative of the desirability of localism. Other movements, such as cooperatives and mutuals, should also be goals for progressives.
More needs to be said about social accounting. It is a breakthrough in terms of impeaching the current neo liberal driven economic ethos, and replacing it with a more progressive lefty way of doing business. You firstly need to clearly establish the aims and principles of the company in order to assess them as the company progresses. These aims and principles need to be undermined by the triple bottom approach of social, economic and environmental sustainability. As you assess how well your company meets these values, you can modify your practices, and revitalise your aims and principles to make sure that your company is as progressive as possible. Competent social science techniques are required to audit, and these must encompass all stakeholders.
There is a lot more to say about social accounting and the progressive advances it provides new organisations, both voluntary and commercial. It cannot be anymore important than it is now for more sustainable approaches to providing vital services for the public. With the Clegg and Cameron crew attacking many important services, with a disregard for environmental aims, alternative economic policies and the social disintegration effect their policies will have on so many people’s lives, there needs to be a counter narrative, a counter approach to providing hope and aspiration for those who are the most neglected but most affected by the current ideological surge of economic illogicality.
I intend to say a lot more about this new progressive way of accounting for business and service provision practices in the future and the company, SilenceBreaker Media. This was just meant as an introduction and as a way to consider the possible implications for progressive politics. It is just another clear indication of the need for the progressive left to regain the localist agenda and promote a counter narrative to the Big Society, which instead of masking needless cuts, provides real opportunities for people.
SilenceBreaker Media website coming soon (http://www.silencebreakers.org/).
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