By Alexa Pitoulis
What are some key elements of "new economies”?
• Rethinking what we value and how we measure success. What does success look and feel like at all levels of the economy? To answer this question we must be willing to redefine wealth and move beyond what our current economic systems value as indicators of success and well being. At a macro level, the Genuine Progress Indicator and the Gross National Happiness index offer positive approaches and at an organizational level, we might measure impacts based on the triple bottom line (people, planet and profit). At a personal level, my commitment to redefining wealth means making daily, conscious decisions about how I choose to spend or invest my family’s money and time. Sometimes this means, as a parent, I’m the odd mom out. Saying no to McDonald's or no to my kids playing or buying Rainbow Loom Bands. And saying yes to my kids riding bikes to school (even in the rain) and sorting the weekly recycling. Most importantly, I don't shy away from talking to them about why I make the choices I do.
• Rethinking our point of departure for creating businesses. Start with what is im(possible). Start with the large, system-scale problems that exist in the world or our communities (waste, poverty, unsustainable food systems, depleting oceans), and ask how we can build a business model that not only generates value but works at bringing positive change to these issues. I am inspired by business schools and organizations such as Bainbridge Graduate Institute, Presidio, and the Unreasonable Institute who are embracing this approach to entrepreneurship..
• Rethinking how we work together. I am passionate about creating the containers that support individuals to actualize their greatest potential to transform the world. By containers I mean businesses, organizations, and institutions that bring individuals together. What I often observe - whether it be in purpose driven businesses, non-profits or social enterprises - are people who launch organizations with clear purposes, values, or ideas of impact they want to make. At some point during their growth trajectory they fumble with how to operationalize the values and changes they are trying to make externally through how they function internally. The individuals in these organizations, so full of energy, creativity, and soul, get worn down by old embedded systems (patriarchy, capitalism, to name a few) that serve neither people nor planet. My work in this space takes inspiration from Carol Sanford’s The Responsible Entrepreneur and Frederic Laloux’s Reinventing Organizations who offer a new paradigm.
What role does the media play in new economies?
My work with OpenMedia gives me a deep appreciation of how important the Internet and digital tools are for new economies. How we describe, understand, and interact with media has changed dramatically in the last 20 years. The Internet is the critical tool to enable people to build a more connected and collaborative world. As Malkia Cyril, founder and Executive Director of the Center for Media Justice writes, "in a digital age, communities that have long been either the subject of debate or voiceless stereotype now have the means to control their own story.” This sharing of ideas and experiences creates the conditions for a new a economy.
OpenMedia's vision is to unlock the enormous potential of the Internet through universal access. We use the Internet to save the Internet. We are building a community that is finding new ways of actively engaging people with depth and authenticity through online tools. We had over 300,000 people from 155 countries help create Our Digital Future, a crowdsourced policy report for free expression online. As a leader in the massive, grassroots campaign involving over 5 million people from across the U.S. and internationally, we fought for Net Neutrality and won!
How does this relate to cities?
Cities are the sandboxes for change. They are where people have easier access to the systems (bureaucracies, financial markets, scope of stakeholders) that are otherwise out of reach. A great example of the power of municipalities is OpenMedia’s upcoming work to educate, promote and support the swell of Municipal Broadband initiatives. As Cynthia Khoo, OpenMedia’s Policy Research intern states “more and more municipalities across Canada have taken it upon themselves to ensure affordable, citywide Internet access through community-based networks known as municipal broadband.” Local ownership and control over Internet infrastructure is a key component to thriving new economies of the future.
Alexa Pitoulis is the Managing Director with OpenMedia. Alexa brings over 15 years experience building and leading teams and projects for government and community organizations. A self-proclaimed kale-powered supermom on two wheels, she is a creative strategist driven by her passion for building regenerative social and ecological systems. With an MBA in Sustainable Systems from Bainbridge Graduate Institute, Alexa views organizations as living systems and is excited to bring this perspective to the "how" we work at OpenMedia. Inspired by Margaret Wheatley's wisdom that “people support what they create", Alexa is committed to authentic engagement and collaboration.
This blog is part of the 'Voices of New Economies' series within Cities for People - an experiment in advancing the movement toward urban resilience and livability through connecting innovation networks.
This series is an exploration of what it takes to build the economies we need - ones that work for people, places, and the planet. We are connecting key actors, finding patterns, noting interesting differences, and highlighting key concepts and initiatives. Together, this series offers insights into the new economies movement as it develops.