Increasing complexities brought about by global crises are calling for us to actively disrupt and challenge the conceptual frameworks currently dominating cultural policy and theory. Creative ecology offers a new paradigm that recognises the multifaceted nature of creative communities and reveals the interdependencies that exist within them. Findings from an extensive enquiry into the creative ecology in Auckland, New Zealand, revealed that such a shift in thinking offers the best hope for improving resilience and encouraging growth. The creative ecology model moves away from industrial, discipline-centric understandings of artistic practice and instead places focus on the system of relationships present in the community and beyond. Ecological thinking is currently being applied in many sectors, from psychology to finance, as part of the search for more effective ways of analysing and responding to a context of rapid change and disruption. The creative ecology model provides an important new language and method, as well as a practical way forward that supports creative people, organisations and cities to survive and thrive.