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Social Innovation Hardware and Software

Last week, the Young Foundation and Buiding Change Trust presented the first results of the Amplify NI initiative. Community associations, third sector organizations, social enterprises, philanthropic institutions, public and private sector leaders and anonymous individuals established a spontaneous National Forum on Social Innovation aiming to discover how a new movement of social transformation in Northern Ireland could look like.

Movement building requires hardware and software.We need hardware – tangible and interconnected projects that will tackle the priorities identified through Amplify NI ethnographic research.And we need software: new transformational narratives based on common values and aspirations.

Social innovation software can be found in the common values and narratives shared within a particular community. Particularly interesting and useful is social software that helps us to understand our strengths, challenges and priorities – but also other values and narratives people would like to associate with. They say a lot about how we see ourselves and why we take certain decisions.

Participants in the Amplify NI event highlighted deep and rooted inequalities that stand in the way of progress. Despite intensive efforts, many of these inequalities remain, along with a unique set of challenges borne out of deeply-held negative values and self-perceptions.But they also spoke about ingenuity, belonging, warmth and resilience as fundamental societal assets of Northern Ireland.

The region is brimming with creative, resilient people committed to building a stronger, more equal and prosperous society. We just need new narratives that describe what is possible and new actions to make it real. As a self-defending mechanism, societies emerging from conflict tend to expect the most difficult scenarios. Resilience becomes a non-voluntary asset but it also narrows what is achievable in all levels of society.

For all these reasons Amplify is working together to tell new narratives about our cities, towns and communities that focus on our positive values and that re-envision our shared future. We need more self-confidence and aspirational goals. It is our strong belief that a new transformational narrative that would enlarge the scope of what is possible could make a breakthrough contribution in a moment of redefining what Northern Ireland can achieve after the end of violence and in the context of reinventing the traditional welfare state.

The right software is necessary for social innovation hardware to be effective. Those stories help us to set up the priorities that each community should tackle and potential innovations to be tested. Amplify Northern Ireland has identified and contributed to scale 24 initiatives with the drive and potential to kick start responsive projects associated with new aspirations.

Activate, Afterthoughts NI, Agora, Ardoyne Youth Club, Art for me, Bee friends, BKN and the rest of the 24 innovations are the best example of what is Today needed and possible applying the power of social innovation.

Join the movement!

Check out the website to find out more about Amplify NI.