In just over five years SOCAP has grown from an auspicious convening of early leaders in impact investing into the globally recognized leader at the intersection of money and meaning. In retrospect SOCAP could not have chosen a better historical moment to debut its first conference than October 2008, as the global economy teetered on the edge and people across the ideological spectrum began to question our economic foundations.
While the flagship SOCAP Conference has attracted larger and more diverse crowds to San Francisco for a week each fall, SOCAP has pondered how to respond to strong inbound demand from communities across the globe to “bring SOCAP to our town”. Valuable as these events are, they are ephemeral by nature; they are not knitted into the essential fabric of the cities and communities that may wish to host them. Ultimately what these groups are requesting isn’t a conference, but for the type of collaboration around shared value that is SOCAP’s secret sauce to take root in their town.
Through its unique convening methodology SOCAP has accumulated immense brand value, but that value is currently underleveraged. The question remains of how to extend and deepen the value that SOCAP has created in a way that enables leaders to activate a social capital market in their town. As was the case in Fall 2008, the moment is ripe to build the solution: that solution is SOCAP Your Town.
SOCAP Your Town will be a set of tools that local leaders can deploy in their own cities; a roadmap that leaders can follow, hack, and reconstruct however their community demands. Chris Kieran and I are developing a prototype card deck that SOCAP “power users” (i.e. those who have been requesting SOCAP to come to their town) and their peers will use to instigate gamified interaction with Kevin and Mark’s revamped Market Map in “feeder cities” across the US.
Through a growing set of feeder cities, SOCAP Your Town tools will help companies and organizations to learn from one another via local hacking of the deck, tracked in a central repository at the R&D lab in Philly. This activity drives a collaborative learning process where distributed innovation across a global network (within Impact Hubs and other local institutions) leads to teams generating locally appropriate modules to add to the deck.
Two primary themes of the initial SOCAP Your Town toolkit will be integrating local food systems and the collaborative economy, both of which generate tremendous interest and value in cities worldwide even though their potential remains largely untapped. Both are also of central importance to cities across all geographies, making them at once intimately local and globally relevant.
In this way, SOCAP Your Town is not a direct response to the requests for another SOCAP Conference, but a lightweight response to the implicit next level of that demand. That next level—the integration of SOCAP’s principles into the core of local economies that are globally interconnected—is the future of the impact economy.