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Impact Neighbourhood and System Level Change

An impact neighbourhood strategy can influence change at a system level by addressing the root causes of social and economic challenges facing the neighbourhood and promoting systemic change on a larger scale through shared learning and fostering stronger connections across the actors within the system. The root causes of a system that fails to address economic and social challenges in an environment from which it emerged or was built around, can stem from a failure to coordinate and communicate effectively across the system actors, which inevitably results in silo thinking and behaviour.

Overcoming obstacles that may stem from isolated (but not necessarily mutually incompatible) priorities held by multiple actors or organisations, requires active engagement with the system you are seeking to change - this may extend to immersion within the system. Advocating for policy change at the local, regional, or national level to address systemic issues such as housing affordability, access to healthcare, and job opportunities. By engaging with policymakers and advocating for policies that promote social equity and inclusion, companies or organisations can help influence systemic change.

Collaborative impact requires connection and strong relationships across a defined set of stakeholders, who are potentially recruited from an impact network. An impact neighbourhood strategy can collaborate with other stakeholders such as community-based organisations, advocacy groups, and government agencies to address systemic challenges facing the neighbourhood. By building partnerships and coalitions, organisations can amplify their impact and help influence change at a broader level.

Changing social norms, attitudes, or the innate rules of an existing system is possible through adopting an impact neighbourhood strategy. These social norms and attitudes can inadvertently contribute to systemic challenges such as discrimination, wealth gaps, social exclusion, and marginalisation. By designing and coordinating the built environment to promote community engagement, education, and awareness-raising activities, organisations can help shift social norms and attitudes towards more inclusive and diverse communities which can form the foundation of greater level of social capital and community resilience. In turn this can produce higher demand and better returns on investment as the revitalised neighbourhood becomes a place that is easier to work, live and play in.

If place-based projects are measurably successful against these criteria, it can form a blueprint or model that could be scaled to a state or national degree. For example, by sharing best practices and lessons learned, organisations can help replicate successful models and approaches in other neighbourhoods or communities, thus contributing to systemic change by “scaling-out”. If successful models show a clear link and alignment to government goals the projects can pave the way for regulatory change that promotes and enables more such projects and allows for the “scaling-up”.

Perhaps more importantly, for a self-organising system to emerge, an Impact Neighbourhood project can create the right conditions for change to occur from a grass roots level which can lead to a deeper level of change or “scaling-deep”. When all three types of scaling occur, a “flow” state is created which happens when a sports team creates magic that is more than the sum of its parts. Energy and momentum carry the change along in manner that amplifies across a system.

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