Based on his keynote speech given to the New Zealand Creativity Challenge held in New Plymouth 27-28 April 2013, this paper explores role of creativity, community and citizenship.
The paper begins with an unsettling, scene setting expose of our current social and political predicaments. We find ourselves “ruled by the appetites of the consumer and a culture of commerce that has a vested interest in keeping those appetites unsatisfied”. Nearly every aspect of community life in the face of the growing colonisation and encroachment of this Generica.
Creativity responses are called for. “In a broken world, in the face of a Generica that is telling us that “it’s just business” and we are on our own, that it’s every man or woman for themselves … we need to unleash and sustain the creativity of “We”.
The paper sets out two significant areas where citizens are coming together to learn and gain strength. Details are offered on two significant responses, as well as a précis of the author’s life work.
The first is a introduction to the Social Entrepreneur Fellowship. This concerns both the process of peer learning within the a leader full group of 15 active citizens who have been working to bring insight and entrepreneurship and practical hope to many projects and activities for social change in our communities around the country.
There are also details of the impact of three of the fellows:
- Brian Donnelly, New Zealand Housing Foundation
- Stephanie McIntyre, Downtown Community Ministry Wellington
- Debbie and Ngahau Davis, He Iwi Kotahi Tatou, Moerewa
These stories are documented in more detail, along with an exploration of social entrepreneurship, in “How Communities Heal: stories of social innovation and social change” (2012).
The second creative response began as a conversation over breakfast, between the author and two Taranaki community leaders. After fortnightly breakfasts over 9 months, the
Three initiatives have since arisen:
- * Masterclass for Active Citizenship
- * Social Innovation and Community Action Incubator
- * Community Circles.
A virtuous circle of reflection > resilience > regeneration is envisaged. “The doorway to a virtuous circle is reflection … and, in our case, that process of reflection was being catalysed by choosing to have a different type of conversation. But along with this, there is a need to get smarter about just what constitutes resilience in our community sector, and to get a lot smarter about strategies for regeneration. This slowly became our agenda for creating a citizen-based approach to “community development”.