We may need new ideas about how our neighborhood functions.
Do “social enterprises” offer strength and stability for tougher times?

I spent all day Friday at a Social Enterprise meeting, hearing vaguely familiar phrases like . . .

“applying market-based strategies to achieve a social purpose”

“solving a social problem or market failure through entrepreneurial private sector approaches”

“using business models to pursue their social mission”

Social ventures, as you may know, are what they call non-profits running a related business, or a business running a related non-profit operation – a blurred but fast-growing concept. Think museum store, coffee shop run by homeless trainees, specialty products high-school business students.

Driving home, I recalled where I’d heard those phrases before.

“There has never been a challenge that the American people, with as little interference as possible by the federal government, cannot handle.” Republican governor Bobby Jindal

“The market economy, allocating resources by the free play of supply and demand, is . . . the most productive supplier of human needs.” American Conservative Union

“Self-interest compels people in free markets to meet the needs and wants of others.” How Capitalism Will Save Us, by Steve Forbes.

Conservative policy says the free enterprise system can fix social ills better than organizations like government and government-funded non-profits.

So, all you conservatives out there, where were you on Friday? Why were the 350 people attending the summit predominantly progressives? Why aren’t you running with this, strengthening our community while demonstrating your ideology in action?

Call me. I’ll introduce you at the next meeting.

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