Social Development Goals in Everyday Contexts
In everyday activities of organizations from public and private sectors Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Impact as a concept are becoming even more important. It has a positive effect since sustainability is entering vocabularies of public and decision makers. On the other hand, there is a risk of it turning into just another fad or a meaningless slogan without any content. In some cases, similar stories happened to the concepts of public participation, community building or placemaking. Having a huge potential to transform the way of how we speak and act about our public matters and ourselves, it may be used as just another form of greenwashing. So how to make it work not only conceptually, but also in practice?
To begin with, we must agree on what we are aiming for. Impact makers and impact funders must agree on what they want to achieve and how they will measure the success on a ground level. Therefore, we must create spaces for the dialogue between different stakeholders to build mutual understanding on impact and its measurement and help to find simple (or complex) ways and tools to measure impact and scale it. Without this there is no way to know if we are even going to the right direction. When it is agreed on terms and general direction, it is crucial to find an individual way of integrating SDGs framework into organizational everyday practices. Here it is important to acknowledge the context that organization is operating in and how it can be improved through a particular SDG or combination of them. Researching and understanding organizational context can reveal sustainability potential that was unseen before. And this can even happen in activities, which from the first glance may be far away from sustainability issues. One case from small basketball club in Lithuania, that transformed the game of basketball by introducing community aspect, demonstrates exactly this.
Sports industry has a long history and deep traditions. Usually when such combination is present, no big innovations or shifts in how things are getting done can easily appear. Currently the structure is quite simple: players play and spectators watch. The logic of a good game is enshrined into how good the performance of players is and how much crowd it attracts. This is usually measured by simple metrics and the number of participants usually relies on how good the marketing execution was. However, after analyzing the context of what does it mean to be a successful basketball club in a small town, it became crystal clear that creating the community around the team is the key. Forming the structure with a focus on community and engagement showed results within two months. The team gathers the highest number of participants, TV broadcasting numbers are record high and players play very well due to a great interest shown to their work and personalities. As a side effect, there are great benefits for the society: people are engaged, have a sense of belonging, children are being active, neighbors are meeting on weekends again and spirit of the town is back again.
What sustainable cities and communities have to do with basketball? The goal of the organization was to create an active community focused on engaging the audience and providing them with not only a game but everything around it: from educational activities and gatherings to public talks and events. When the team starts to measure not only the score or marketing expenses but also community engagement and public good, it changes the game itself, note only in the field but also around it. So, what is your SDG and how can it transform everydayness of your organization?
Author: Dominykas Karpovic, Homo Eminens