[HERI Report No. 6] SVC: Social Value Cluster

조회수 566377 2011.06.28 11:13:34
HERI *.50.148.104
2009-06-01 

Oh Seung-gyu, Secretary-General of the Citizen’s Movement for Environmental Justice (CMEJ), had one thing on his mind. CMEJ had been a successful advocacy group. However, there seemed to be a need for more practical activities that were directly related to citizens’ everyday lives. As important as it may have been to promote the enactment of environmental-protection laws, it seemed equally important, in the context of the environmental movement, to propose alternative lifestyles such as eco-friendly food and living conditions that could assuage the suffering of parents whose children were plagued with atopic dermatitis. 
 

This idea led him to think that the office should be located in an optimal location to launch new activities. He thought that the new movement would be given momentum if its office was relocated to a community interested in the new type of lifestyle. However, the current location did not appear to fit the purpose. In the end, CMEJ decided to move to an area where it could reach out to citizens and maximize social values. Subsequently, it joined forces with several civic organizations to proceed with the relocation plan. 

 

In the search for a suitable place, Seongmi Mountain Village in Mapo-gu, Seoul, stood out among the various candidates. The founders of the village were parents who were engaged in communal childcare. Over time, economic units advocating similar social values such as “community” and “ecology” gathered in the village and developed the town into a cluster. 

 

In September 2008, CMEJ and other three civic organizations including Citizens’ Action Network, Korea Womenlink, and Networks for Green Transport built a building called “Naru” in Seongmi Mountain Village and moved into a new office in the building. After relocation to a town where the residents are already advocates of ecological values, CMEJ has started to lay the foundation for realizing an eco-friendly lifestyle that it has developed through research. One of the efforts is an energy campaign to replace the lights with light emitting diodes (LEDs). Other organizations have proactively assimilated themselves into the community by engaging in activities such as the construction of bicycle lanes. Seongmi Mountain Village Theater in “Naru” has become a venue for local residents and numerous artists who want to exhibit their artistic performance.

 

Another important consideration was that the lifestyle sought by the staff of civic organizations fit the values cherished by Seongmi Mountain Village. Discomfort with a smaller office is now outweighed by the staff’s increasing satisfaction with co-ops, eco-friendly delicatessens and the communal child care programs in the village. 

 

“Seongmi Mountain Village” is developing itself into a “Social Value Cluster” as a magnet for civic organizations and artists. 

 

The original definition of a cluster is a gathering of companies, universities and research labs in one place which build on the synergistic effects to create new knowledge and technology. In this sense, a cluster is a part of the efforts to increase productivity by producing more with the same amount of investment.

 

Samsung Economic Research Institute classified clusters into five categories: academia-led clusters, large company-led clusters, creator-led clusters, clusters specialized for the local community and Silicon Valley-type clusters.

HERI proposes a sixth category of clusters: the “Social Value Cluster”.

The five types of clusters suggested by SERI seek to increase productivity for the limited purpose of generating economic values only. However, “Social Value Cluster” is designed to generate new social values using interaction among producers, consumers, intermediaries and support organizations that congregate in one place and share common social values. The constituents of SVCs can be a string of NPOs working in a specific area or a group of consumers and producers who advocate co-ops and an eco-friendly lifestyle. An SVC can be comprised of a number of artists or social enterprises who come together to exert synergistic effects, too. 

 

In the past, the mainstream paradigm emphasized a growth-oriented approach under which higher economic value was synonymous with happiness. This is being replaced by a new paradigm which pursues sustainable development in its search for co-existence of the economy, environment and society. A wave of changes is sweeping through all aspects of the economy including finance, business and consumption. With this macroscopic trend, the spotlight is being turned on a new brand of clusters that creates not only economic values but also environmental/social values. 

 

Creation and expansion of the common values treasured by all members of the society such as the environment, human rights, education and a better quality of life go beyond the realm of nations, corporations or conventional NPOs to involve local communities and social enterprises as well. This current trend requires higher productivity in generating social values. However, our society’s structure to create social values is lagging behind the soaring demand from each sector. Now is the time to make innovative efforts to create values on a larger scale than is possible at the level of individual organizations. This observation has led us to examine the current status and challenges of SVCs which contribute to such innovative efforts. 

 

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