I’m sure that some people are just now recovering from the collaboration celebration par excellance that was the Creative Places + Spaces conference. For those keeping track, this was my first “work-conference” (ooooooh!). For whatever reason it actually does make a difference somewhat.
Anyways, it was a pretty dizzying few days with incredible addresses from minds ranging from Toronto’s Poet Laureate Pier Giorgio Di Cicco challenging us to make the fabric of the city more like that of the family, to Cirque du Soleil’s Excutive Producer Lyn Heward taking us on a magic carpet ride to the seven doors of collaborative process. There were more focused nuts and bolts type sessions on the second day, but in general it was like getting bowled over with good-idea-about-working-with-others after good-idea-about-working-with-others for three days, with peaks here or there depending on what you’re into, and more nudity than can be casually explained, even with Spencer Tunick in the house. Summaries are abound.
I personally had a few highlights:
- As much hyperbole as you might feel there was about Sir Ken Robinson, the man delivers when on stage. This is one wickedly funny, wickedly smart man.
- Favorite/Best Collaboration (in my books) goes to St. Michaels Hospital, the NFB and film maker Katerina Cizek for their exhaustively deep Filmmaker-in-Residence. How do you remake the form and process of documentary to be an agent of social change instead simply being of a window into the lives of others? Watch this movie/click this link to find out. I could gush on and on about how moved I was by this, but you really have to see what they’ve done. It’s an INCREDIBLE collaboration between media and medicine. Katerina and the NFB also announced that they’re taking that same process to the domestic urban landscape with their latest collaboration called Highrise about the apartment towers of the world. So good!
- The Most Unexpected Event (other than all of the nakedness) saw me on the final panel with Charles Landry, Tonya Surman, Allyson Hewitt, and Tim Jones. Is this what happens when you get a job? People invite you on panels?? Cool!
Charles Landry’s presentation about creative bureaucracy really made me sit up straight in my chair. I still have my bureaucrat-baby-fat and, thanks to my coworkers, my spirit has yet to be crushed by this job, so the challenge of his address resonated quite strongly with me: how do we make bureaucracy more creative?? Especially when considering the necessary dependable things they do that they can’t be creative about like payroll, or other such niceties.
It came up again on the the final panel, and we talked a bit about how municipalities can help spur ad hoc or grassroots groupings of agents in their communities towards organization so that they can collaborate with the municipality in more meaningful ways – creative partnerships. While it wasn’t said explicitly, what’s also being inferred is that bureaucracies, in-large, don’t interface well with individuals. In the way that they operate it seems that government bureaucracies, at least, are geared towards dealing with groups – unions, church groups, neighborhoods, BIA’s. These factors are still very relevant, but it’s interesting to note that people have access to a greater diversity of cultural inputs and that identities are increasingly individual, while also considering that bureaucracy is all about the experience of standardization. How will the creative bureaucracy keep up with increasingly individualized individuals? Hey upper management – collaborate about that on your next coffee break.