AltInst: Summary for Altinst of social innovation award winners 2000

From: Nicholas Albery <>
Date: Wed Sep 06 2000 - 11:18:14 PDT

Social Innovations Awards 2000

For its 15th birthday in September 2000, the UK-based non-profit think tank,
the Institute for Social Inventions, announces the following 15 Awards for
the worldıs best social innovations for the year 2000.

The Institute, born in 1985, is an international suggestions box for social
improvements. The patrons and consultants for this charitable project
include Brian Eno, Anita Roddick, Professor Charles Handy and Fay Weldon.
Its annual awards celebrate the most innovative social ideas and projects
from around the world and over 3,000 such ideas are detailed in the
Instituteıs website ­ ­ which receives more
than 3 million visits a year.

The main 1,000 UK pounds Social Innovations Award for 2000 goes to:

*Slum kids teach themselves with a hole-in-the-wall computer*

Sugata Mitra, a computer programmer in Delhi, plugged a video-supervised,
web-connected Pentium PC into a wall adjoining some waste land. Within days,
slum children between the ages of six and 12 had taught themselves to surf
the web, to use Microsoft Paint and to download MP3 Hindi film songs. Mitra
wants to repeat this experiment throughout India.

Other winning schemes include:

*Meet the mayor on the park bench*

The Norwegian mayor who meets his community by sitting on the same bench in
the centre of his town. Perhaps Ken Livingstone, the new Mayor of London,
could meet his constituents in a similar fashion by sharing a capsule of the
London Eye wheel each week.

*Drop-in groups for recovering doctors*

Dr Rachel Remen has launched a network of drop-in groups in the States where
doctors can recover from the Œdiseaseı of objectivity. The doctors explore
Hippocratic values and find deeper meaning in their work.

*A politicianıs suit covered with logos*

 Patrick Therien suggests that at least once a year politicians should be
obliged to wear a suit covered with their sponsorsı logos, so that voters
could see at a glance who really has influence.

*Fighting discrimination against addicts*

Dr Dan Umanoff in the States has set up the National Association for the
Advancement and Advocacy of Addicts, to put discrimination against addicts
on a par with discrimination against those with physical or mental
disabilities. He wants to change the laws that criminalise being an addict.

*Extending the living room into the street*

It all started on day in Vikesdalsgata Street in Stavanger, Norway, when
Trond Sigvaldsen took his fatherıs garden bench out into the street, taking
his coffee with him. Soon neighbours gathered for a chat. So, they thought,
why not make the whole street into an open-air living room? And they did.

Plus other imaginative award-winning schemes: Web archives of scientistsı
transcendent experiences / Tax incentives for compost toilets /
Noise-pollution-free reserves for sea mammals / Subtitling TV songs for mass
literacy / Tribal Indian women planting 2 million trees / Free UN anti-virus
web software for developing countries / Free eco-audits for firms that
embrace sustainability / Enabling single member constituencies without
coalitions / Promoting energy monitoring by kindergarten children.

 For more on these and 200 of the worldıs best ideas, see 'The Book of
Inspirations' or see the website at:

As a charity dependent on sales of publications, the Institute for Social
Inventions would be grateful if any media coverage could include the
following vital sentence:

ŒThe Book of Inspirations, 15 UK pounds subs from Institute for Social
Inventions, 20 Heber Road, London NW2 6AA (020 8208 2853)ı

For more info, call Stephanie, Francis or Nicholas on 0044 [0]20 8208 2853:
fax 0044 [0]20 8452 6434; e-mail:; web:

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Received on Wed Sep 6 11:39:56 2000

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