“Even a ruin can be a hope.” This phrase by Miguel de Unamuno has become our leitmotif at the Santa María La Real Foundation. Where others see problems, in the foundation we see solutions, we face them as a key to opportunities.
In 1977, a group of dreamers led by the architect and artist José María Pérez “Peridis” embarked on the adventure to rehabilitate and give life to what in those years was known in Aguilar de Campoo as “the convent fallen”, the Monastery of Santa María la Real, which was in a state of ruin and abandonment. They also succeeded by attacking a major social problem: unemployment. The rehabilitation of the monastery was done through the creation of the workshop Schools Program, an active employment policy that was replicated years later throughout the national territory, and even exported to Latin America or sub-Saharan Africa.
Today, more than four decades later, at the foundation we continue to rebuild the future, generate development, promote initiatives and seize opportunities. We are a non-profit, private and independent entity, which aims to improve our society by implementing projects and initiatives based on three axes: people, heritage and landscape.
Social leadership is our way of working. We see it as a set of characteristics that people and organizations possess that make them stand out from the rest, because they take the leading role in facing the challenges posed by the socio-economic context. These features are:
1-they place people at the center of their actions: when projects, initiatives, activities, etc. are proposed, and in the very development of them, people always occupy a central place. Work always starts from people, and not from other elements (technologies, programs, infrastructures, etc.), taking into account their problems, needs and opportunities. It seeks the internal development of people, both personal and professional.
2-proactivity and initiative: they do not wait for others to act, they make things happen. They act proactively in the face of new possibilities, or when there are difficulties, without waiting for other people or institutions to do or say what needs to be done. They lead the processes of change and transformation.
3-they are based on collaborative approaches: teamwork and collaboration in the different actions are encouraged. It seeks to create community from diversity. The involvement of different actors in initiatives and projects is encouraged. Social problems are complex, and require the sum of efforts to make the answers more effective.
4-they approach problems and challenges from an innovative perspective: different formulas are sought to face situations. Therefore, different ideas, new approaches are taken into account, a different way of doing things is sought. Creativity and innovation are encouraged, since different results cannot be obtained if we continue to do the same.
5-they achieve results and social Impact: finally, they do not stay in the “how”, but go towards the “for what”. The actions that are put in place achieve positive results and changes, which modify personal and social reality.
Social leadership is not embodied in words, theories or models, but in actions. It is done by people and organizations that do not stand still in the face of problems, but take a step forward in facing the challenges.
The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us that nothing is like it used to be. And, probably, it will never be again. That is why it is more necessary than ever to develop social leadership in order to face the important social, economic and environmental challenges that come our way.