Social Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation are the new “buzz words” when it comes to both the business and non-profit sectors. Many people believe social enterprises to be a mix of both worlds, incorporating the social impact focus of non-profits, with the financial stability, or financial returns, of a business. Some are even calling these emerging social enterprises the beginning of a new fourth sector.
Historically, we have seen three types of organizations in society: business, government, and non-profits. These organizations have provided society with the products and services that make up the quality of life that many people know today.
Yet, with all of the benefits that we have received from these three organizations, they have come with many costs. Our natural environment has suffered greatly for our economic benefit; its natural resources are now being consumed at the rate of 1.5 times the natural re-growth of the planet. We face the threat of climate change. Social capital has also suffered as economic globalization has brought wealth to few, yet has kept the majority of the world’s population in poverty. The economic crisis we are living today has given us a glimpse into how “short-termism, corruption and greed threaten the security of our economic systems and the viability of our civic institutions”.
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The city of Los Angeles is home to 3.8 million people living in 469 square miles. It is the second largest city in the US, behind New York City (which has a population of 8.2 million people that miraculously live in 302 square miles of land).
During the last few decades, the City of Los Angeles has been working diligently, and has seen significant results, in the area of water conservation. According to data collected in March 2012, Los Angeles uses less water today than 40 years ago, despite a population increase of over 1 million people:
That’s a rather significant achievement.
So, how has LA done it?
Water use in the City of Los Angeles peaked in 1986. The following five years saw severe drought, and therefore water shortages throughout the city. In 1990, the city passed The Emergency Water Conservation Plan Ordinance which established a list of water conservation actions that the city would enact depending on the severity of water scarcity at a given time. This ordinance was later amended in 2008 to make some of the measures mandatory at all times of the year – regardless of the current water situation – and expanded certain practices to the general public. The Emergency Water Conservation Plan Ordinance places restrictions on specific actions including using water for landscaping purposes (watering lawns, trees, flowers, etc.), cleaning sidewalks with water, and serving water to customers in restaurants unless asked. The ordinance also prohibits residents to leave water leaks unattended.
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