Our People-centred City

8 October 2012

Wellington City Council has just granted $13,000 funding to a new initiative - Chalkle Whanau - to bring a range of affordable classes to local children and families.

Social entrepreneurs from Loomio, Enspiral, and Chalkle

Social entrepreneurs from Loomio, Enspiral, and Chalkle

This follows on from a hugely successful pilot programme offering Wellingtonians affordable classes in everything from bike maintenance and music to learning Mandarin. They are now also working with Deloitte to provide accounting skills and Sport Wellington for family activities.

Chalkle (chalkle.com) is just one of many companies made possible by a local group of social entrepreneurs - Enspiral, who were also granted funding ($5000) from the Council.

Chalkle website

Enspiral nurtures start-up companies, providing capital, office space and other support - so long as there is a strong grounding in a social mission. They've launched more than a dozen companies since they formed two years ago, and these companies donate a considerable amount of their earnings back to charity.

Enspiral is a collective of more than 80 people - with complete transparency in decision-making and accounting, using mostly internet-based platforms instead of committee meetings. And it's working. Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says Enspiral is a great example of what makes Wellington an innovative 'people-centred' city.

"This is a modern networked approach instead of a 'Think Big' top-down model.

"They are driven, hard-working and passionate. They operate by their own rules and don't answer to a boss. Their innovation is catching - they're opening offices in Hong Kong, New York and Sydney.

"Enspiral combines the best of business practices, an innovative way of decisionmaking and a social conscience. They're some of the most exciting entrepreneurs we've got."

When founder Joshua Vial was living and working in Christchurch as a web developer, he became seriously interested in social change. Joshua says he started volunteering with his free time, but a recurring question for him was "what's the best use of my time?"

"I decided that rather than volunteer a few hours a week or try to create social change by working from the inside as a bureaucrat, it would be better to help people who want to make a difference to earn a living while they try to change the world.

"It was around that time I chose to move to Wellington. I was drawn to the technology industry, the arts, and most importantly - the city's walkability."

After investigating companies of the future and how they might run, it became apparent to Joshua that people are increasingly adapting to how internet systems work.

"Until now, we've had to centralise information, money and control of systems in a very hierarchical way. And that was needed - it was efficient in a world where it was expensive to exchange information. That's not the case any more, so it's leading to structural change."

Joshua says that everyone who works at Enspiral has an equal say in the way decisions are made and money is allocated.

"What we've found is that it seems to be a more natural way for humans to work together. We have people who choose their own hours, choose the perfect mix of their skills and passion, and choose their own salary. They're happy in their work, safe in the knowledge they're making a positive contribution to the world."

Start-up companies helped by Enspiral include Buckybox - a software development company that works on improved distribution of food, and Loomio - a new tool that enables easy decision-making by a large group of people online.

Buckybox website

Loomio website

"We're now using Loomio to run Enspiral. It saves money and time, and you get more effective decision-making." says Joshua.

Enspiral also supports 19 Tory Street - a free space that can be used as a gallery, a music venue or an exercise session. Anyone can apply to exhibit their work, hold a talk or a yoga class, and all for free.

The event or activity simply gets signed-off through Loomio. For more information, visit:

Concerned Citizens Collective website

For information about Enspiral, visit:

Enspiral website

People-centred City

'People-centred City' is one of the four pillars that support our vision - Wellington Towards 2040: Smart Capital, where talent wants to live. Other pillars include 'Connected City', 'Eco-city' and 'Dynamic Central City'.

News - 2040 Vision for Connected City - 07.08.12

All these contribute to making Wellington an even better place to live - the creation and harnessing of new, clean technologies; the protection of our stunning natural setting; prosperity, with a particular focus on information or 'weightless' industries; and healthy and happy communities who love to live here.