Creativity – a neglected resource in cities?

I recently was recently invited to give a presentation on developing sustainable communities in an age of austerity as part of the RegenWebinars. My main focus point for the presentation was creativity and how creativity, if uncovered and harnessed can be a huge resource in developing communities. However, a very good challenge that came up during our discussion was how we define creativity.

Inspired by the work of Charlie Leadbeater, I usually talk about a narrow understanding of creativity and a broad interpretation of creativity. When we work with making communities better and more sustainable place we want to cultivate the broader sense of creativity and get everyone in the community to use their creativity for the greater good of the community. From this it may be obvious that I believe that creativity is a human capacity which is bestowed on us all. The narrow understanding of creativity is usually limited to a much smaller group of people who major in creativity, so to speak. These can be artists, writers, musicians. Sometimes part of me believe that the narrow creativity is connected to a more long term investment from the creator – as something which does not necessarily need to pay dividends on investment in the immediate future.

Part of my argument is that we need to learn to use this plurality of meaning in creativity to our advantage when working in communities. We must in this way mobilise everyone in the community to use the broader creativity when mapping the assest of a community but we also need to aspire to the unique work of the artist – the need to aspire to be original and to dare try something new.

So maybe working with creativity is a balancing act between the broader understanding of creativity and the narrower understanding of creativity.

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