For next Tuesday’s Page Two Walkabout, I will be writing about the 6% Place project, an initiative in Garfield that has gotten Heinz Endowment Funding.
It’s so non-traditional and intriguing.
The theory goes -- according to CEO for Cities research from several years ago -- that if at least 6% of a neighborhood’s population works in creative fields, that neighborhood is likely to enjoy economic vitality and a social health.
A 6% committee will conduct a census to determine what percentage of Garfield’s residents are creative workers and begin to build plans to nurture a climate for those workers so that Garfield might draw more of them.
Eve Picker, a creative worker herself, has spun her cityLAB from the theory to test it, more or less, to see if it can become a economic development strategy for Garfield. (The renderin above came out of the Urban Design Build Studio at Carnegie Mellon University, showing what Dearborn Street could look like once or twice a month someday.)
As I was interviewing people for the column, my brain began lighting on images of work that could be considered creative if people would stretch beyond the typical definitions. Yes, painters, poets, sculptors and musicians, even bad ones, are automatically considered creative, but there are lots of endeavors, like welding or making flower arrangements that creative people can turn into creative work.
Then there are people who swerve non-creative jobs onto non-traditional and intriguing side streets. I heard about a shoe-shine guy who travels around spreading his faith to customers. You might just want a shoe shine but he is stretching. I also recently talked to a minister who runs a coffee house that holds programs for immigrant refugees. Now I’ve heard some creative sermons and some that are as dry as ear wax, but this minister is doing something pretty cool and out of the ordinary.
When the 6% Place begins unveiling its purpose in the neighborhood, it will be interesting to see if the metal worker, the florist, the non-traditional minister and the landscaper — among a multitude of people whose work isn’t often identified as creative — will start to believe that they are doing creative work.
Creativity sets off creativity and that can set off a kind of magic.