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The City Needs Community Activists

15 July 2011

The city needs community activists or ‘social innovators’ – this is the conviction of the participants of the discussion group 'Urban Environment as a Factor for Innovation Development’ whose work commenced today in Ekaterinburg within the business programme of the Innoprom 2011 Forum.

According to Professor Josep Acebillo, CEO of Barcelona Regional (Metropolitan Development Agency), and a Partner Architect of AuS Architecture and Urban Systems (Switzerland) a city is like a bicycle. “The speed depends on the human effort, the factor determining whether the bicycle goes fast or slow... However, if a decision to do nothing is made, the bicycle will come to a halt and fall”, this was the metaphor he suggested. Recent survey results are rather positive: the number of Russians happy with their living standards and public services and amenities in their cities and towns has grown significantly compared to years past and amounts to 36%. The share of content people in cities with population over one million reaches 70%. Mrs Pautova pointed out that the number of people who can be classified as ‘creative’ has also grown. 17% of people living in our country are capable of being potential innovators in various areas, or, as sociologists refer to them, the the “21st century people”. In Ekaterinburg this figure reaches 26%.

She then stressed that “today the world of science has a clear understanding of the need for innovators-scientists innovators-officials, and innovators-entrepreneurs. The time has come to raise the question about innovators-community activists (or social innovators) capable of taking care of the establishment of a comfortable social and cultural environment not only for themselves but for all urban dwellers.” The discussion participants agreed with this suggestion.

Larisa Pautova said that “the 21 century people are human motors, they have vast reserves of energy, live an active life, these are people capable of shaping their environment to fit their lifestyle”. She then stressed that “today the world of science has a clear understanding of the need for innovators-scientists innovators-officials, and innovators-entrepreneurs. The time has come to raise the question about innovators-community activists (or social innovators) capable of taking care of the establishment of a comfortable social and cultural environment not only for themselves but for all urban dwellers.” The discussion participants agreed with this suggestion.

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