"Energy and persistence conquer all things."
Benjamin Franklin is one of my heroes. On the way to complete an errand in London last week, I noticed a street sign directing me to Benjamin Franklin's former home at 36 Craven Street, where he spent 16 years from 1757 to 1775. This is the only one of his homes anywhere still standing. He was very happy there.
A Georgian terrace house with wonderful proportions, it drew me in. Ben Franklin entertained politicians, business people, the creative and inventive there. His home was seen as the first American embassy. He was comfortable and hospitable with wealthy and poor alike. His spirit of innovation, humour and deep humanity still inspires me. You can find out more about his home here.
In some ways, I see Huff Po as the present day equivalent for the kind of conversation and stimulation found among Ben Franklin and his friends - just rather more far reaching these days in geographical terms. Franklin helped advance the Age of Enlightenment. Our opportunity too, some 300 years later, is with a new Age of Enlightenment.
"Hide not your talents, they for use were made. What's a sun-dial in the shade?"
A few weeks ago, I wrote about Job Creation in the UK and Europe during the 1980's.
In response to questions received, here is a little more information, specifically about the industrial village. For those of you who wondered, Patrick Naylor is my former husband. I was with him during those extraordinary job creation years.
Up until the 1970's, business schools held the view that the responsibility of corporate boards was to enhance the return to their shareholders. Workers were disposable. A board had no moral responsibility for the community dependent upon their industry.
British Steel had a need to shed 150,000 people over a short period of time, many in isolated communities for whom steel was the sole economic resource. When the blast furnace was switched off, the community infrastructure began to disintegrate. Everyone is at a loss and suffers. The social impact of large scale layoffs is devastating, not just financially but also it terms of crime, family breakdown, even suicide.
Naylor recognized that ordinary people are multi-talented, often put into a conceptual straightjacket. He would take corporate directors to their boardroom (usually at the top of a building). Looking down on the workforce below, he would ask them: Do you know someone who writes poetry; someone who spends his weekends tinkering with clocks and watches; who is good making things with their hands, such as furniture?
"Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship.
The act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth."
In each of the steel closure areas, a team of two was set up to manage the job creation programme. Redundant steel plant was converted into small workshop units - an industrial village in the making. People with business ideas flooded in. You could liken it to Field of Dreams - build it and they will come.
There was a creamery system, known also as The Paddy Quotient. Each potential project was assessed and given points under the following headings:
What types of jobs?
How many jobs?
Projects with sufficient numbers of points were given the go. Those with job creation potential were given support at every stage to get up and get going. The forces of negativity on the start up are considerable. Loneliness and fear threaten the best project to failure. The role of the job creation manager was to make sure the new entrepreneur would open his mail; answer his phone calls; stay in touch with his customers and creditors.
The beauty of the industrial village was the "easy in, easy out" terms of renting space. If a project had a larger contract, it could expand its space. If the orders were down, it would reduce accordingly. They did not have to carry large overheads. Office services could be supplied by a business under the same roof. Book keeping by another. Computer services by yet another. The comfort and reassurance offered by community was immeasurable.
On the subject of the value of community, you might enjoy Kari Henley's recent post:
"Faith is the ability to see the invisible and believe in the incredible
and that is what enables believers to receive what masses think is impossible"
One of the most remarkable Job Creation enterprises was in Kassel Germany, close to the then East German border. Enka, a manufacturer of synthetic fibres, had a large plant employing many people in Kassel. Its fibres had been superseded by others. There was no demand to keep the plant going. It had to be closed.
The workers council staged a hunger strike. Riots took place. Because Job Creation had gained a reputation in Europe, Naylor was invited to look at the problem and find a solution.
The results spoke for themselves. Within 5 years, 70 projects were up and running within the industrial village. There was an assortment of companies including: printing, advertising, computing, PR, warehousing, car repairs, design, small engineering, glass blowing. There were more jobs in the community than before in the Enka days.
The vision that Patrick and I share is that there is a tremendous wealth of human energy and resource in every community. Do you have talents, skills and gifts that are lying dormant? Do you have a vocation that you have yet to fulfil?
"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
The Monthly Labor Review of October 1986 sets out clearly the model created for British Steel Industry by Patrick Naylor. It was replicated throughout Europe at that time. Please contact me if you would like a pdf copy emailed to you.