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The #soc5 this week is really #soc1. I want to highlight some incredible public art that embraces the Social Enterprise ethic. The One & Other Project by Anthony Gormley in 2009 in the UK really exemplifies the magic that can happen when the Social Enterprise is unveiled. While it was a 2009 effort, the residue remains online today in significant ways and the current “Occupy” efforts could learn a great deal about how to organize a global resistance movement in a way that embraces their powerful message without the dilution of violence or active challenging resistance.
The project was incredible. It was a public art project held on the 4th plinth of Trafalgar Square. Citizens could apply to spend an hour on top of the plinth and they would rotate continually for 100 days in 2009. They did so in wind, rain and worse and the output was watched by the world. The interest was immense. They received over 35,000 applications and over 2400 people took part for their hour of fame. Flickr and YouTube were active during the event and remain active today. A community built up over the hashtag #fourthplinth and the experience became a great example of spontaneous organization which creates its own momentum and generates its own organization.
This project highlights the possibilities and the challenges in the social enterprise. It certainly entails a small amount of risk to the creator or sponsor. They need to give up the current illusion of control of information in any real sense and enable a democratized version of control. But the benefits are there too. By eliminating control techniques, the unseen value beforehand is uncovered. Much of the presentation was unanticipated. While some was surely frivolous, some of it was unexpectedly impactful. And that is the value. The benefits of the social enterprise are sometimes unseen going in but indisputable coming out. By accepting the small risk it becomes asymmetrical and the payoff becomes obvious.