Creative ecology

The aim, for me, of creative city-making is to think of your city as if it were a living work of art where citizens can involve and engage themselves in the creation of a transformed place. This will require different creativities: the creativity of the engineer, the social worker, the planner, the business person, the events organizer, the architect, the housing specialist, IT specialists, psychologists, historians, anthropologists, natural scientists, environmentalists, artists of all kinds and, most importantly, ordinary people living their lives as citizens. This is comprehensive creativeness. It involves differing forms, not only the thrusting creativity of discovering a new technical invention, but also the soft creativity of making interaction in the city flow. To make creativity's diversity work involves the management of fragility.

Every period of history requires its own form of creativity. Today's will be different from yesterday's and tomorrow's. Now we need to focus our creativity on being creative for the world. To do this we need to work across disciplines in an interconnected whole so we can see issues and solutions in the round. We need to think both horizontally and vertically, to see strategy and detail, the parts and whole and the woods and the trees simultaneously. We need to care for our world. For instance, rather than focusing on sustainable development we should think of restorative development: how our cities can help restore the environment, how can they give something back to it. A few housing developments already give electricity back to the grid.

Creativity is not the answer to all our urban problems but it creates the preconditions upon which it is possible to open out opportunities to find solutions. Urban creativity requires an ethical framework to drive the city forward, and not in a prescriptive sense. At its core this ethic is about something life-giving, sustaining, opening out rather than curtailing. This requires us to focus on soft creativity, which is the ability to nurture our cities and their cultural ecology.

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