Research by Richard Florida and others demonstrates that communities vary tremendously in terms of their support for creative people and their pursuits.   Over the past few years I have developed plans for a Center for Community Creativity (CCC) that would address the need communities have to become more authentically creative.   More creative communities attract and support more innovative and socially responsible companies.  The CCC should be housed at a major research university.  This article summarizes my proposal for a Center for Community Creativity.   Click below to learn more:

Communities and Companies Need More Creativity

  • Schools no longer prepare people to think for themselves, innovate, or take risks.
  • Many companies are broke when it comes to creative strategies and products (e.g., Cuts in the R&D Department
  • Downsizing where everyone does more and no one wants to stand out in the crowd
  • Regions and communities will rise or fall based on creativity.

“Flight of the Creative Class” Richard Florida

  • Terms of global competition now revolve around a nation’s (community’s) ability to mobilize, attract, and retain human creative talent.
  • Once the leader in innovation, America now face heavy competition for talent.  Other countries are increasing their ability to compete.  The US is undermining its own ability to compete for talent (closed minds and closed borders)
  • The US is failing to cultivate and harness the full creative capabilities of its own people in ways that position it to compete effectively.  America’s success to date is due to an openness to new ideas and new people – both of which closed considerably under Bush administration.

Power of Creativity

  • We all have creativity, but may not recognize it (or know how to harness that!)
  • Creativity is multidimensional and enriched by diverse perspectives and experiences
  • Creativity can be challenging because it disrupts existing norms
  • Creativity involves the ability to synthesize new and useful combination of ideas
  • Society needs to nurture and harness creativity within individuals and communities.

Identifying Creative Traits

  • Open to new experiences and ideas
  • Tolerant of uncertainty and ambiguity
  • Flexible and multidisciplinary thinking
  • Interests broaden over time (curiosity)
  • Uses many sources of information

Expressing Creative Traits

  • Creativity is synergy between left and right sides of our brains
  • Creativity is enhanced when it is shared among people (synergy means 1 + 1 = 3)
  • Creativity means that we need to regain our childlike curiosity (beginners mind)
  • Creativity is enhanced by changes in focus, including relaxation, meditation and music

Nurturing the Seeds of Creative Communities

  • Creativity results from exploiting the unexpected observation or finding
  • Welcome and exploit new challenges and opportunities from environment
  • Encourage serendipity (e.g., chance encounters in community)
  • Encourage flexibility and spontaneity (OK to stop and talk with people)
  • Communities are Hubs for Creative Expression

Communities Become More Creative Through:

  • Highly educated professionals (talent)
  • Social support and infrastructure
  • Tolerance for alternative lifestyles
  • Universities and research organizations
  • Music, dance, and other creative outlets
  • Significant ethnic and cultural diversity
  • Abundant recreational opportunities

Building Creative Communities

  • Encourage creative expression for all people – particularly the young and old.
  • Facilitate communication and collaboration among creative organizations.
  • Engage universities and stakeholders as creative consultants
  • Conduct research on creativity and then provide training and advice
  • Enhance regional tolerance for lifestyle and political diversity

University-Based Center for Community Creativity

  • Broad-based, interdisciplinary focus
  • Integrate the arts and humanities with science and technology
  • Foster public and private collaboration
  • Conduct training programs and education
  • Applied research and assistance
  • Funding from foundations and others

Building and Sustaining Creative Community Infrastructure

  • Inventory major programs and organizations associated with creativity from community and region.
  • Conduct branding research to determine how best to position the community and region as a creative hub
  • Use research indicators to benchmark region against other major communities.
  • Develop interdisciplinary outreach program aimed at promoting community development.
  • Develop strategies based on research to promote music as a way to build community pride.

Provide Creative Education, Research and Assistance Programs

  • Assessment of creative climate – Interviews and survey; Media and document analysis; Public participation
  • Analysis of community structure – Communication network analysis; Civic engagement opportunities
  • Innovative Training and Retreats – Community Team building; Creativity enhancement; Communication and cooperation

Need to Understand and Address Social Impacts and Inequality

  • Florida notes that “the rise of the creative class is exacerbating economic inequality and stoking the flames of social and political tension… (leading to) intensification of the fundamental class divide.”
  • Center Mission: ensure benefits of the Creative economy are shared across society; while avoiding negative social impacts that accompany change.
  • The CCC will focus on social impact assessment, public participation and other areas to engage people.
  • Grants will be sought and then shared with other researchers at participating universities.

Strategies for Building Creative Communities

  • Identify and respond to emerging challenges and opportunities associated with the creative economy (become a talent magnet).
  • Enhance communication and cooperation among organizations and individuals that have interests in and responsibility for creativity (build the infrastructure).
  • Find more ways to integrate the arts into community life (especially the schools).
  • Practice progressive politics and nurture tolerance among all people.