Sheltering The Social Economy
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Many social economy organizations either operate out of, or own and manage, heritage buildings in urban and rural places. These heritage buildings provide a variety of functions from the provision of affordable housing and safe-houses to artist co-operatives and studio space for cultural groups. Others house social and human services organizations, treatment centres, retail co-operatives and office space for the non-profit sector. In the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, Canada, the stories of these buildings reveal existing or potential alliances between social economy activists and social and heritage preservation entrepreneurs. As Canada moves towards a national municipal heritage program, we analyzed the dialogue around heritage, social economy and the built environment – that is, the innovative and well-considered use or adaptive re-use of heritage architecture not only in terms of social economy assets or the sustainability benefits of reuse and embedded energy, but also in terms of conserving a ‘built heritage’ of social democracy in the contemporary urban fabric, an architecture of the social commons and social solidarity. We explored links between heritage preservation policy and the funding and operations of the social economy sector. Several cases were examined.