I’m nearing the end of a committee led community study project that began with high expectations for developing imaginative, creative and challenging proposals to revitalize an important segment of our regional economic base. The initial weeks spent planning the study process were filled with enthusiastic energy, and the first public committee meeting started that way. But it soon became obvious that dogged adherence to the process template was more important than imagination, creativity or challenging thinking. The weeks and months have gone by. Worthwhile information from reliable experts has been gathered, tabulated and summarized to prepare a final report that will be a model of plebeian mediocrity, exciting few and initiating little response.
What is it about adults that so easily stops us from unleashing the creative power of imagination? Have we been so thoroughly taught to always color inside the lines that anything else would be unthinkable? It’s not like the question has not been asked before. I know a half dozen people who make their living inspiring others to relearn how to free up their creative spirit, but even those efforts seem to be limited to isolated elements of individual personal lives or securely filed in a cabinet marked Art & Culture.
When it comes to broad questions of public policy, even at the local level, I guess the best we can hope for are ideas that are not all that bad, likely to do at least some good, avoid doing too much harm, and which, we are led to believe, will offend the least number of people. Yippee and Woo Hoo.