Creative Citizens Call For A “Creative” Creative Capital

recycling binsBill Mott, social enterpriser (founder of The Ocean Project), committed environmentalist (founder of Providence Green Drinks), and city resident would like to see the city become a little more creative in how it runs the government. Writing for RI’s Future,

Earlier this year, Mayor Cicilline unveiled plans designed to make Providence a “creative capital” for the 21st century. Granted, it has been focused on the arts, but all the uproar about the City’s new recycling program and the contentious City Council meeting last night make it pretty clear that the city needs to get much more creative all around, and much more effective at communicating, when designing and delivering new programs that entail any type of behavior change.

Community-focused social marketing is one of the most effective ways to bring about positive change, and there are many examples to pull from around the world on recycling, waste reduction, energy efficiency, pollution prevention, transportation, and a host of other health and sustainability challenges that our city faces.

While part of the challenge of the No Bin/No Barrel program was having essentially no budget, if more of us creative capital denizens get plugged into what is going on in City Hall, we can make a difference ourselves in how our city runs. Incentivizing behavior is a reward in itself, and Mott echos Pecha Kucha facilitator and social media maven Stephanie Gershon’s suggestion at a recent sustainability forum, that the recycling program should have had more carrots. Some of the school engagement ideas were part of the plan, but just didn’t make it past the cutting room floor as staff figured out the best way to implement the program with their limited resources.

In cases such as these, would the city benefit from a permanent citizens’ commission on creative communications that attempts to bridge some of the politics between the City Council and the Mayor’s office and provide creative and positive approaches to city issues that we could all play a more active role in solving.

3 thoughts on “Creative Citizens Call For A “Creative” Creative Capital”

  1. I forget the total budget – but it wasn’t much, and Alix and staff stretched it as best they could.

    Another issue is getting our ward organizations functional again. This would have a been a great project, as Matt Jerzyck suggested, to have ward committees working on.

    I know many folks have a distaste for politics, but if you want better city government, we need to make it happen. And the most grassroots way to plug into doing the work is through ward organizations, where you can frequently run unopposed.

  2. @Ben They had the budget to mail brochures and pay for WM to stick stickers on every can. It would cost little to no more to have made sure that these limited materials actually communicated the policy. The question for me is can these people execute the plans they have. The uproar around what should have been a no brainer fiscally conservative policy indicates that the current council and administration cannot.

    The issue here is competence not creativity. I will say with less budget the greater the need for creativity.

    @Wess I don’t see them being slow on parking rollout as they technically offloaded the parking issue to the neighborhoods rather than really facilitating the process. This means the change will only come if the area demands it and that momentum is hard to get.

  3. If they knew they had limited resources, why not start this as a limited pilot programme in one part of the city — you know, just like that crazy experimental overnight resident parking thing they’re being SO slow and careful with.

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