It's time for the 2016-17 Lynn Cultural Council grant cycle. The paper in front of me is not blank. Last year, this We're ALL Lynn project did not get funding. The vision was to involve more youth in forming a creative/cultural hub to use their phones and "turn the camera around" to depict the land, space and community that raises them.
As you can see, I still post and have been paying attention to where there might be pockets of energy and engagement to broaden the lens into a collective project.
While my idea of We're ALL Lynn as just one creative/cultural hub that gives a thoughtful visual of folk life in the city, it appears to have come too soon. It is far behind the innovative movements elsewhere.
Simply check out these titles of articles, sites and movements that are concrete evidence of the global movement of disrupting the same-old, same-old of civic infrastructure:
~Leading the Inclusive city. Place-based innovation for a Bounded Planet.
~Enabling City: an organization that works to advance social innovation as a form of active citizenship, particularly in the areas of urban sustainability and participatory governance.
~Civic Innovation Lab
Take a look at that last one, The Chelsea Collaborative: Empowering People, Building Community | The Collaborative sees organizing as a way to build community power and achieve lasting change. When a thousand threads are brought together and bound to each other, they become a strong unbreakable rope.
And that's right next door. Why is there little interest -- by residents AND leaders -- in learning from our neighbors?
A thousand threads. It takes some time to get all those threads in the same place at the same time for everyone to behold. But a while, it must take. To move ahead with some sort of impatience based on market pressures (or rather, opportunities), is to build on quicksand, or a marsh, or a swamp, or worse -- on top of sacred lands.
Business never dominates such movements, but we do know how business dominates. The circle of collaboration must include all facets of a community infrastructure, along with public institutions, citizens groups, faith groups, neighborhood clusters, young people, young people, and elders -- all who gather (over and over) around the roundtable of exploration, listening, and the kind of humility that comes in the form of -- if it's not all of us, it's none of us (I learned that once from teens at the Boys and Girls Club a few years ago).
Using creative thinking to not only solve our local woes but to blaze healthy community trails cannot come from hierarchies that are data-proven not represent the demographics of where they serve. Serve.
I'm in week 6 of 7 of a focused hub of creative thinkers from around the world -- there are about 20,000 of us tuning in weekly to a course about the past-due, critical, and hope-rendering movement to create eco-systems* in our communities. One of the hub is from Scotland -- the country. The entire country is gathering as a hub to listen, learn and vision.
*Ego-systems (those hierarchies) are not performing at an effective level to justify what is invested in them.
Creative thinking in community can be nurtured or encouraged, but not forced or compelled. Leaders who try to compel creativity because of very real financial and schedule pressures rarely get the results they seek. It is said, "THEY don't show up," which points a big problem right there. Snooze you loose? Progress is invested in, not ruled by, fiscal cycles.
We're ALL Lynn will continue and hopefully, with support from people and programs that believe in and foster creative ideas and engagement. Such support sends a message of shared belief that it's worth it to keep on searching and gathering individuals, groups, and organizations committed to collaboration. As a creative/spiritual leader, I know the necessary fuel of active engagement (encouragement is nice, like from a grandparent). I and we cannot and should not do things alone. Progress doesn't work that way, like....never.
Collaboration is an sophisticated and sincere skill that requires participants to view their purpose and interests as part of a whole. It's not a show and tell check in. It's not taking turns. It's getting together willing to discover what arises from the circle of who is in the room, and then next time, and the next time. The process is facilitated, not directed. It's hip and cool and spiritual and ancient, in all cultures (but the least in mainstream American culture).
When cultural and creative connections are -- not only fostered -- but seen as the foundation to healthy and visionary community for all, a community becomes resilient and vibrant in a way that rises up by the citizens. We enhance the capacity of one another.
Hope to see you in the round,