I write a lot about the blurring/blending of the sectors - commercial entities providing social services (schools, health care), nonprofits running revenue-sustaining enterprises (Rubicon Bakery, Delancey Street, Grameen Bank), and the public sector co-producing public services with individuals, such as municipal recycling programs or neighborhood watch programs. Its easy to think this is all new and big.
This morning while walking the dog I finally stopped and read a poster I had noticed in several store windows along the main shopping street near my house. It announced a street-wide used book sale. Stores were asking individuals to donate used books to be sold to raise money for the renovation of the local library branch. The stores with the signs are making space available for the book donations. The idea - get shoppers into the stores to donate books and browse among them on the day of the sale (gee, perhaps they will buy something also...). Engage neighbors in raising funds for the local library. Bring people together. Clean out your overstuffed bookshelves and restuff them with different books.
Community engagement. Public, grassroots organizing. Commercial support. For a public agency (the library). Nary a nonprofit to be found. Nothing big, nothing particularly new. Didn't even catch my eye for several days. Right here, in my own backyard.