The Summer School of Social Innovation, organized as a part of the Social Innovation Community project was held on May 9 and 10, 2018 in Samsun, Turkey. The selection of topics and thematic sections was very wide. I chose three things that in my opinion were particularly interesting during both the lecture and those more practical parts – study visits and workshops.
First of all, I would like to tell you about the solution that was presented by the Georgian organization Rural Development for Future Georgia. This association deals with the development of rural areas in Georgia, and what they proposed is called Employment Shuttle, which is based on recruiting a group of people who would participate in the employment program – usually young people, because today it is a challenge in many cities and rural areas. People who are recruited for the project are trained in a rather typical way. They acquire soft skills, learn how to get the best employment. However, there is one key difference. People participating in the program, form a group in which they find employment for each other. In other words, as a participant of the program, my job is not to find employment for me, but to find employment for a friend or colleague who are with me in the group. It turns out that this solution taken from Spain is extremely effective – the organization from Georgia has over 70% efficiency level in employment of people taking part in the program.
The second thing that from my perspective was particularly interesting, is the lecture of Dr. Hamza Zeytinoglu from the University of Istanbul in Beyazit Square. Dr. Zeytinoglu talked about ways of creating effective networks – in a conversation about social innovations, both at the level of their creation and implementation, there is no element as important as a well-built network of connections and relationships (one of the most interesting videos shown by Dr. Hamza) in turn, as in life, rely on trust. Hamza shared with us very interesting materials about how trust affects values, how these values change over time. What is important in this particular point for us in Poland, for those who want to create social innovations here, is that the level of social trust in Poland is very low. Edelman’s research shows in a very clear way how the conversation about values and values themselves can affect the level of trust and how to build effective, long-lasting networks and relationships is extremely interesting.
The third element was the fruit of our study visit. The study visit was fruitful, nomen omen, in a village producing healthy organic food. The city is called Sürmeli, it is 50 km from Samsun and for years it was known as the main tobacco producer for nearby large towns. After the changes in the law and the introduction of restrictive regulations, this element of the local economy simply collapsed. Sürmeli ceased to produce tobacco. The commune administrator, who was already managing the village, decided to put everything on one card. He agreed with the nearby university and asked its representatives to prepare, for the next 4 to 5 years, 37 local families to become organic farmers . The whole project was successful! Today, 37 families with women at the top who have created a food cooperative, are maintained from the production of healthy organic food. Sürmeli itself is already known in Turkey as an Organic Village (www.surmelikoyu.com, http://bit.ly/2Kuep3e). I think this is a very interesting example of a local leader, who decided to see what are the trends and set the development of one of them locally in his village.
As you can hear, these three elements I am talking about, they do not have much in common with technology. I think this is the very interesting lesson that results from this summer school. In Poland, very often when we talk about social innovations, we do a quick mental shortcut to a new app that makes things easier in life or tries to solve a problem. In Samsun, the thread of technology appeared quite seldom, yes there was a different proposal to deploy applications that would solve the problems of people taking part in the workshop. However, this technology was a complement – it was not at the center of interest of people taking part in the workshop. It does not mean that technology can not help us and it is not important in the whole undertaking, but probably we should not start from it.