A Creative Town is a Healthy Town

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Image by Allie Caulfield*

In Imagination First, Eric Liu and I state our conviction that “it’s in the collective arena that imagination can do the most” (200). One of our main goals in the book is to help the reader turn his or her community—whether that means the home or the workplace or the town—into “an ecosystem where good ideas can emerge from anywhere” (203). I’m quite pleased, therefore, by a recent article in The Enterprise-Bulletin—a newspaper published out of Ontario, Canada—that stresses this essential connection between imagination/creativity and community. In “A Creative Town is a Healthy Town,” columnist Tanya Mazza nicely supports the claim that she makes in the title of her piece.

Mazza, who serves as Arts & Culture coordinator for the City of Collingwood, begins her commentary by focusing specifically on the role of the arts and culture in communities. Artists, she reminds us, “generate creative expression, which contributes indirectly to creativity in the greater economy by inspiring ideas and propelling imaginative thinking.” Furthermore, artists are responsible for content that the business sector markets and sells. Moving beyond the arts, Mazza goes on to assert that creativity is what leads to general innovation and problem solving (although she doesn’t specifically articulate the full “ICI” model that we talk about in Imagination First, where imagination > creativity > innovation). She cites urban planning experts Jane Jacobs and Richard Florida, as well as cultural policy expert Jon Hawkes, who published The Fourth Pillar of Sustainability: Culture’s Essential Role in Public Planning in 2001. Hawkes’s ideal society is one in which a tolerant, flexible, open-minded population is able to respond to changing conditions and meet new challenges; but such a society can exist only if its citizens develop their creative imaginations. Eric and I conceptualize this process of development as the spreading of a benevolent virus, namely, imagination.

Speaking of the imagination virus, it seems that it has spread to Ontario. It’s truly satisfying to see Mazza emphasize one of the key notions Eric and I try to communicate in our book: to make our communities better, we need to infuse them with imagination.

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*There is a Creative Commons license attached to this image.

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