Pull together: activate help from the crowd

Your organisation can help serve the community more effectively whilst saving time, money and frustration.  ARA is a new social enterprise that connects organisations with local community groups already working on the problems you want to help solve.

People often talk about not wanting to ‘re-invent the wheel’, but when it comes to addressing environmental challenges at a community scale it can be hard to know who is already working on the same problem in one way or another.  The result?  Efforts can end up being duplicated, time and money can be wasted, and – instead of harnessing and leveraging what’s happening already – initiatives can fail to reach their full potential.

In most communities, small groups of passionate and concerned people roll up their sleeves to work on small projects.  They often don’t have websites or newsletters, they just get on with the job.  In many cases a lack of administrative bureaucracy is an advantage; their strength is the intimate wisdom of how things work locally, and a deep knowledge of the problem, and what will work best to fix it.  

Tapping into the power of these small groups can help companies and councils achieve their community investment goals more effectively.  The challenge is finding them, understanding what they’re doing, and connecting with them in the right way.

Proxima has been providing some pro bono help to a start-up social enterprise, Action Research Aotearoa – or ARA – which has a solution to this challenge.

ARA is the brain-child of two ex-Auckland Council employees, Christine Mitchell and Karen Creagh.  Building on their experience of working with Council and a range of environmental organisations, ARA’s mission is to foster a community centred approach that connects together the people and organisations wanting to tackle the same issue.

The long-term vision for ARA is to be a dedicated sustainability innovation hub which facilitates co-designed solutions within the community, involving both the public and private sectors.  ARA maps out who is doing what, and what is not being done around a particular issue, to raise visibility.  This then enables all the right people and groups to involve.  By doing this, ARA supports more collaborative and understanding relationships, and makes sure the best knowledge and experience is engaged to tackle shared challenges.

We believe that ARA presents an important part of the puzzle for organisations that want to get involved in supporting community action for sustainability, as well as getting more out of their investment.  We’ve been delighted to contribute to the planning phases of starting up the new enterprise, and feel that many of our corporate and local government clients will benefit from what ARA has to offer.

So, if your organisation wants to work with a local community to tackle an important social or environmental challenge, give the team at ARA a call.  It may be just what you need to save time and money; make a bigger difference in your community; and avoid all the frustration of trying to align all those passionate community groups who might just be one step ahead already.

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