By Dale Anderson (ResearchImpact, UVic)
Dale Anderson, Knowledge Mobilization Coordinator at the University of Victoria, offers the some thoughts on social innovation.
Dale Anderson, coordinatrice de la mobilisation des connaissances à l’Université de Victoria propose quelques réflexions sur l’innovation sociale.
We hear a lot about social innovation these days. It’s talked about as the solution to modern problems, problems that just can’t be addressed unless something new or innovative is proposed, invented, produced. Indeed, it’s not just hip to talk about social innovation, it’s seen as backward if you don’t– and all the better if you establish centres and think tanks devoted to the subject. Lately, I’ve been wondering if it’s really necessary, as it seems to me that the ‘solutions’ (if we can call them that) to many of our modern woes already exist. Somehow, though, we’re just not seeing it.
Endless studies have called for fewer roads, more and better public transit and active transportation options (e.g., walking and biking), and better land-use planning as solutions to growing gridlock in major urban centres. As research shows, building more and larger roadways leads to more traffic, more congestion, and longer commutes. These in turn affect our economy (e.g., increased transportation time and costs, increasing costs for the provision of municipal services such as water, sewer, and waste pick-up), our health (e.g., reduced air quality due to vehicular pollutants, less time for physical exercise), and quality of life (e.g., reluctance to let children walk to school, increasing cost and time for commuting, reduced affordability of housing as urban sprawl is encouraged). The answer to all of these complex but related issues is to build more pedestrian friendly, mixed-use communities. And the answer to how is all around us.
Most of civilization lived before the invention of the car. Those charming, historic European cities we admire were built before the advent of the car. Here in Canada, the most sought-after neighbourhoods in Canada’s largest cities are all central, older neighbourhoods that were built before the car became king (think Kitsilano in Vancouver, the Glebe in Ottawa, or the Plateau in Montréal). So we’ve long known how to build pedestrian friendly communities. A better question is: if we know how to do it, how come we’re not? Continue reading ‘Social Innovation: Or is it? / De l’innovation sociale : vraiment ?’