On Monday night a city staff report and recommendation to embrace social procurement was passed by Peterborough City Council.
Last summer, Councillor Kemi Akapo sparked movement in this direction with a motion requesting city staff explore social purchasing and make a recommendation.
City council’s assent Monday night put the cap on the collected efforts of councillors, city staff, and community members to bring a powerful new practice for civil society development to our community.
Shout outs are due to our current mayor, councillors, city staff, and the newly formed Kawartha Social Economy Network, as is a nod to David LePage of Buy Social Canada whose visit here was catalytic.
It will take time to develop the purchasing framework, establish practices, and pilot a few different ways social procurement can be done.
With approaches like these, there is the possibility of stepping out of the pandemic and into a new social structure that is better than the one we might have to leave behind.
While those on the procurement side do their work, there is plenty to do on the supply side. Developing civil society and social enterprise capacity to deliver is also required.
Together, these efforts could transform our community. If time can be taken, during this Great Pause, to establish the groundwork for social procurement and enterprise, our local society could be made anew. Doing so may now be more necessary than ever.
In the early post-pandemic times to come, governments at all levels will be burdened with the costs incurred by pandemic response. Local and trans-local businesses will have been hard hit. Civil society organizations will have faced decreased revenue and heightened demand. There will be shock, loss, grieving, a need for renewal. We will all be looking for new ways to collaborate more beautifully in response, to make the most of what everyone has to offer.
We are presented with an opportunity to break the bonds of colonial and power-over patterns and now work side by side to make better use of our resources, level the playing field, reduce barriers, and open space for all community members to contribute in ways that are meaningful to them.
Social procurement can cultivate and nurture those possibilities.
More and more whispers in the wind are suggesting that perhaps we will never go back to the way it was, and maybe it is best that we don’t.
The decision to embrace social procurement is, serendipitously, a well-timed step towards a new social architecture.
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