On Friday the 6th of April I experienced an extraordinary thing in Malmö. Over 50 people in a room who opened up just to be with each other and discuss the challenges in our society. People who truly connected with their personal experience of being proud of their city and also acknowledging the times when we’re not so proud: when it hurts, when we are frustrated and feel overwhelmed. When we see some of the contradictions in our present society, such as having a growing tech sector while inequality and poverty increases, and being a diverse city with a homogenous labor market. When we see our youths growing up – some with tremendous possibilities and some who have all the odds stacked against them from the very beginning. Just to mention a few things.
Malmö is a wonderful city, full of creativity, culture and diversity. With its own people-powered festival and an international food scene. There are a lot of things to feel happy and grateful about here. Despite all that, I felt the focused energy of the room when we moved to the question of when we are not proud of this city that we continue co-create. The notable drop in laughter, but also the increasing seriousness and vulnerability of everyone in the room. I felt deeply touched by the engagement and generosity of everyone who came and shared the morning with us. Those who brought not just their professional self but their whole being. Those who shared their personal stories with each other.
Our time is now and we have the power to change society for the better. Into a city where
everyone belongs and where everyone has a fair chance of realizing their potential. It all starts with new choices made by each and every one of us. It all starts with you. Join the movement! #fwdmlm
– Elin Turesson, Rädda Barnen
What is Forward Malmö?
Malmö is a glimpse into the future challenges for all of Sweden. Despite economic success and business innovation, in some areas of the city, segregation across the lines of income and race still exist. Malmö is living the future now. The rapid rise in diversity through immigration is an opportunity for re-invention. If we can figure out a way to live well together in Malmö, we will be serving all citizens of Sweden and contributing with important learning into the national strategies for the future.
Significant resources are being put into Malmö as pressure on services increases. Many organizations have risen to the challenge, secured funding and are leading the way. Malmö is now on the leading edge nationally for tackling tough issues. There is already incredible leadership happening within marginalized communities and among business innovators. However, despite this significant and sustained effort there is an articulated sense of “we are not doing enough but we can’t do anything more”.
It has become clear that we cannot program or build our way out of these current challenges. They are too complex, interconnected and interdependent. There is an explicit need to move beyond managing the crisis to building the platforms for the future. A new approach is needed that has organizations and individuals turning towards each other, rather than turning inwards. An approach that connects together the actors for change to accelerate and amplify their efforts. For this to happen it is essential to have a credible and trustworthy container that enables people to work across their differences over time.
Yesterday’s solutions will not work for the problems of the future. We need a fundamental shift from welfare system to welfare society. A place where the systems are actively providing a safety net that enables people to work together to solve their own problems – a system that allows us to fundamentally care for ourselves as a society.
Malmö’s narrative needs to move from being the broken city with great business innovation to being the city crafting Sweden’s future identity. A place where businesses and communities partner up for shared happiness and prosperity, where individuals turn to each other to solve their problems and are facilitated to do that by the government systems in place. By bringing new energy and clarity to persistent challenges, we can design and make a better world. Openness generates potential. The call of shared work invites more people to the table beyond what’s typical. This is how significant change begins.
Let’s organize to move forward.
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For those of you who want an additional dose of Rädda Barnen, they’re arranging a strategic lunch meeting at their office in Malmö on April 25. It’s between 11.30-13.30 and the lunch is included. Send an email to [email protected] for more info/registration, or if you just want to be in the loop regarding “fwdmlm”.