What would happen if everyone in the social sector ‘defaulted to open’?

Our “new” website celebrated its first birthday this September. In the next month, we’ll be reflecting on what we’ve learned from this “hub” for open-sourcing social change over the last year. For #ThrowbackThursday, take a look at what we were thinking when we launched last September. And stay tuned for more updates and insights to come!

The internet has become a critical unit of social, economic and political change. In our 20 years as a funder collaborative, Living Cities has seen first-hand how knowledge shared online can create a ripple effect and forever transform the way we work with one another. Three years ago, as we observed this changing landscape, we began to ask ourselves what would happen if everyone in the social sector ‘defaulted to open’. What if no one ever had to reinvent the wheel because the best information was available in real time?

Today, we are thrilled to introduce the new LivingCities.org. Our new platform is an embodiment of our commitment to ‘default to open.’ We’ve created a hub for shared learning towards testing, adopting and applying promising approaches – all in service of building a new type of urban practice aimed at dramatically improving the economic well-being of low-income people in cities.

The existing practices to address poverty and inequality in America’s cities are not achieving the desired results.

We envision cities as places that create opportunities to grow income, reduce economic inequality, prepare people for 21st century employment and connect people to opportunities. The existing practices to address poverty and inequality in America’s cities are not achieving the desired results. We see this reality reflected in our nation’s widening gap between rich and poor, in persistent barriers to opportunity for people of color and disparate outcomes in education, employment, mobility, health and housing.

Perhaps more so now than ever before, there is broad recognition that addressing these wicked problems at scale will require unprecedented levels, and new forms, of collaboration. No one individual, organization, or sector can do it alone. Meanwhile, around the country, leaders, innovators, doers and dreamers from across sectors and institutions are coming together to chart a new course for social change.

We are committed to sharing everything from ‘a-ha moments’ to tested approaches.

By ‘defaulting to open’ and sharing lessons from our work, and the work of many of these leaders, on the new LivingCities.org in real time - we hope to contribute to fostering this movement. We call our vision for what this could look like ‘Open Sourcing Social Change.’ It is about bringing people and resources together to deepen and accelerate the uptake of solutions. We are committed to documenting failures, as well as successes. We are committed to sharing not just ‘best practices’, but also questions that we and others are grappling with. We are committed to sharing everything from ‘a-ha moments’ to tested approaches. And, we are committed to provoking and supporting discussion, debate and inquiry.

We invite you to visit the new LivingCities.org and to do so not just as a visitor, but as an innovation partner. On the site, we feature and discuss challenges that we believe are some of the most important ones of our time. We showcase promising solutions and innovations. We provide spaces and opportunities for dialogue. We believe that disruptive technology, dynamic storytelling and up-to-the-minute information will fuel our vision of open-sourcing social change. Our new website is one tool through which we hope to contribute to the broader movement. We hope that, with your help, it will be one that can serve, engage, and inspire.

Tell us what you think in the comments and on Twitter @Living_Cities using #NewUrbanPractice.


Photo: Gary Hamel -Open source is one of the greatest management innovations of the 21st century by OpenSource.com, Flickr. CC By-SA 2.0.

This post originally appeared on September 22, 2014.