Edgar S. Cahn, founder of TimeBanking, former counsel and speech writer to Robert F. Kennedy and co-founder of the David A. Clarke School of Law at the University of the District of Columbia celebrates Co-production Week Scotland in this special blog:
In devoting an entire week to promoting co-production, Scotland is taking the lead worldwide. Congratulations. You are transforming what it means ‘to help others’ from a well-intended service delivery role to being a catalyst that enlists those being helped as partners and co-producers of real change, for themselves and others.
TimeBanks USA is undertaking to bring co-production into our higher education system – both for undergraduates at the University of the District of Columbia and my law school. The law faculty will shortly authorise a course in Becoming a Changemaker which introduces law students to co-production that reframes providing legal services to clients from a service delivery role to a transaction that enlists those clients as co-producers advancing System Change.
This past week, at the Annual Conference of our National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA), TimeBanks USA, my law school, and the NLADA conferred a formal Client Contribution award to clients who had advanced social justice.
As we look at the recent election, we can see that we may be learning that the well-meaning effort of all our NGO’s to ‘do good’ may have relegated those recipients to being passive and disenfranchised – a status they did not appreciate. This election may have been their expression of dissatisfaction with that role and status. My hope is that co-production will be the way to restore us to the core values on which this nation was founded. Empowering the disempowered and disenfranchise is the mission to which I have committed myself since 1963 when I served as a Special Counsel and speech writer for Attorney General Robert Kennedy. I’m not turning back – and you in Scotland have provided a model for us all.
Edgar recently gave a special lecture at our event Health, Human Rights and Co-production. Read the #LetsCoPro Storify here.