The first regional policy round table within the RurAction project was organised for Brandenburg on the 25th of June. Even though the ongoing pandemic prevented a real-life gathering, the workshop proved to be a successful and inspiring learning experience about online-formats for participatory discussion and brainstorming.
The workshop was organised jointly with the project Social(I)Makers, coordinated by Social Impact gGmbH, Leibniz-institute for Society and Space in Erkner (IRS) and Leibniz-Institute for Regional Geography, Leipzig. The workshop was attended by up to 37 participants from the fields of social entrepreneurship, regional development, policy and research from Brandenburg and beyond.
The workshop started with two Keynotes. Gabriela Christmann from IRS presented the current draft policy paper based on the research within the project as a basis for further discussion. Ralph Richter also from IRS talked about his experiences from a recently finished project on international training network for social entrepreneurs, and the diverse support infrastructures, networks and training social enterprises require for spreading innovative ideas in regions.
In the second part Marco Beckendorf, mayor of Wiesenburg/Mark and Julia Paaß, co-founder of the Netzwerk Zukunftsorte (Network for ”future spaces” in Brandenburg), presented concrete challenges in political structures based on their daily work, preventing innovative ideas from spreading.
Marco Beckendof presented a mindmap about the local development strategy for innovative initiatives in his municipality. He reflected, among others, about the patience needed with strongly constrained public budgets and long-term saving plans in order to generate funds for supportive investments. The discussion provided a good overview about the local political realities in supporting self-organised economy.
Julia Paaß, in turn, represented the support network for creative and hybrid living-, working and cultural spaces emerging in Bradenburg from Berlin-based networks. She provoked discussion with the idea of ”experimental spaces”, i.e. restricted time frames of a few years within which legal regulations concerning such future spaces could be loosened locally, providing the initiatives with room to test innovative practises and business models. The majority of current legal- and funding regulations are designed for large-scale conventional businesses, which builds complicated hindrances for launching new and small-scale, sustainable models. The workshop took advantage of an interactive online whiteboard tool, with which each participant could write and share thier reflections about possible challenges and concrete solutions on the topic.
As a result from the workshops, concrete and active exchange between new initiatives, governance and residents in different formats was considered as a necessary first step to facilitate better collaboration and governance. For example ideas of shared working spaces for both public- and social economy actors as well as a ”price for good governance” were discussed.
The workshop finished with a panel discussion comprising of representatives from research, policy and social enterprises. Concluding remarks included firstly, that existing local structures and basic services must be supported side by side with new and innovative initiatives. Secondly, the policy proposals from the workshop concerning flexibilization of regulations and funding systems as well as supporting networking and advisory initiatives were very much in line with policy proposals identified in the research project so far, giving them stronger leverage. In coming weeks the policy brief will be reflected in other partner regions further. The organisers thank participating challenge holders, panellists, keynote speakers for their active contribution, and look forward to further innovative, just and sustainable developments in Brandenburg.