by Dr. Kathy Goff, cSchool Program Director, Creative Oklahoma
The Oklahoma Creative Communities Initiative is designed to identify and develop the creative capacities of a community for economic development and improved quality of life. This initiative focuses on locating and mobilizing the creative abilities of individual citizens for identifying and solving community problems.
Traditionally, communities have focused on the challenge of attracting outside resources. We, Creative Oklahoma, believe that effective community development is based on understanding assets, capacities and abilities of local citizens and teaching them a problem solving process to creatively address local concerns.
Communities become stronger and more self-reliant when linked together for problem solving purposes. Gradually, as relationships among assets inside the community are rebuilt, and as demonstrations of local competence multiply, residents cease to look first toward outside help to addressing the most important local concerns.
The keys to community regeneration are:
- locating local assets
- connecting them in mutually beneficial ways
- expanding networks to include marginalized and overlooked assets
- teaching people how to creatively solve local problems
Finding the strengths of community members and connecting them to problem solving initiatives is ongoing work and part of the community building process.
This initiative identifies the creative strengths of local citizens using an on-line, research based creativity assessment. A software platform serves as the central nervous system of the initiative for information exchange and virtual problem solving activities that will be available 24/7. The software encourages locals to maximize the use of their own, and the community’s, creative strengths and abilities to solve problems. As the initiative expands, residents will have access to the creative ideas and input from other communities, states, nations…
What is unique about this initiative is teaching and empowering local citizens to solve problems from within, thus promoting self-reliance and sustainability. Local citizens design and carry out the process and action plans with the assistance of trained facilitators. This replicable model educates and inspires citizens to create change and a sustainable future for their community. Communities that have mobilized internal assets offer opportunities for real partnerships, for investors who are interested in effective action and in a return on their investment.