As Providers of Goodness we are very interested in social innovation, and a while ago Thomas told me about your project. He said that there’s a Genuine Contact (a transformative and participative approach to organizational success, red.) municipality growing in the world. Of course, we got very curious about that! Frida, can you share a bit about your role in the municipality of Örnsköldsvik?
“I think that my title would be ehmm … social development manager for the municipality of Örnsköldsvik. Our municipality has worked with social innovation for over twenty years now, and it has proven to be a great way for organizations and the municipality to co-create solutions for Örnsköldsvik – to make it more attractive to work here, to develop businesses here, to live here. These topics require for a lot of minds to think together, and we have found that we need powerful tools to invite people to think and work together. So that is the work I do, and I have been doing this for about 10 years at Världsklass.”
Thomas explains: “Världsklass means ‘world class’.” Frida: “It is a project that was started 20 years ago, and that has now become an integral part of our municipality. Back then our city was experiencing really tough times economically. Big companies had to let go a lot of their workers, and many people moved away from Örnsköldsvik. At that time, the politicians and leaders from the big companies realized that this is not something they could figure out sitting in their offices. Instead, they saw that we needed to come together and find solutions together. This is how Världsklass got created, and it has continued with the same intention for over 20 years now. These days, it is an obvious positive force to everyone in our region, and a great channel to invite all kinds of participants in all kinds of social innovation processes.”
I heard that you use co-creative processes as your main method to get things done in your municipality. Can you give us a very successful example?
Frida thinks for a bit: “Well, one of our greatest examples is that we (Världsklass, red.) invited a neighborhood – a part of Örnsköldsvik – to come together in an outdoor meeting. I think it was May, so the weather was pretty good, and we hosted an open space (a meeting designed with a highly participative approach called Open Space Technology, red.) on how they wanted to develop their neighborhood.
This neighborhood called Sörliden-Valla was really divided socio-economically. So that was a really interesting area to work with. What came out of the meeting is that they started a continuous dialogue and came up with an action plan for their own neighborhood. We could fund some of their ideas through Världsklass.
Today, they have their own citizen organization called Sörliden-Valla Samverkansförening with a couple of employees, and they do a lot of good work, like supporting immigrants with integrating in Örnsköldsvik. This all came from one well-designed open space meeting.”