Wednesday, 12 September 2012


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6% Theory tells us that when at least six percent of a neighbourhood's population works in creative fields, investors are attracted (2007 Creative Neighborhoods Study). Can the 6% Place Project theory work in rural areas, such as much of Nova Scotia, Canada?

I was inspired by "doTank" cityLab, whose mission is to use the city as a laboratory for experiments that might stimulate economic vibrancy, and their 2011 6% Place Project. Their project developed a practical toolbox of 16 incentives to reach the 6% creatives target. This project identified creatives and the "creatives environment" in the Garfield suburb of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, USA.

The six-percent goal is a starting place to look at economic growth/revival. In its simplest terms, the starting goal is to look at the "lay of the land" and count the number of creatives in the community, looking at factors, such as:
road patterns and infrastructure
median income
educational achievement
family makeup
worker movement/chain migration patterns

The Toolbox that was developed by cityLab to attract 6% creatives to Garfield, Pennsylvania, USA, included projects such as:
Dream property database
Expand the Arts
Food Incubator
Street Market
Tiny Housing
and more ...

What can we learn from the cityLab 'doTanks' example, by mapping and identifying creatives in rural areas and conditions that attract/deter creatives so we can build our economies? Can the 6% theory apply to rural areas?

How does your region's rural communities stack up against the 6% theory?

San Francisco's Six-Percent Neighborhoods PDF 

6% Walkabout article.
LINK TO 6% Place Project PDF.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012


The film "How Far Is Heaven", is set in Jerusalem,
an isolated community on the Whanganui River in New Zealand
"Without your past who are you, and does it matter if anyone knows?" Solange, Rwandan Refugee

Everyone has a story to tell. Stories enrich us, and the creative community of filmmakers and storytellers can capture, preserve and share the culture and heritage of often forgotten, or isolated people.

In 2011, film-makers Christopher Pryor and Miriam Smith created a film about the 120-year-old Sisters of Compassion convent located in Jerusalem; an isolated community along the Whanganui River of New Zealand. The story, "How Far Is Heaven", tells of three remaining three Pākehā nuns who lived there and the local Maori community that embraced them. This is one of several films about small communities, presented at the New Zealand 2012 International Film Festival. The nuns reportedly no longer live there since the film was shot. The filmmakers have shared a part of the community that no longer exists.

Irish-born author, Colum McCann, came to the USA in the 1980s and set out across the USA, on bike, to find stories. He found many. In a recent interview with NPR host Neal Conan, at the Apsen Institute Ideas Festival and Story Swap Project, he says 

"Storytelling is about understanding other people ... if we can understand what’s happening to others, then we can finely, sort of, understand what’s happening to ourselves because there’s really loneliness in not being able to tell your story."

The Story Swap is a powerful storytelling idea that builds community. Storytelling creatives abound, such as:

The League for the Advancement of New England Storytelling including New York State.
Zanendabe: The Institute of African Storytellers.

Mapping Memories "is a collaborative media project which uses personal stories and a range of media tools (video, sound walks, mapping, photography) to better understand the experiences of youth with refugee experience in Montreal". Hip Hop artists, No Bad Sound, in "Roots To Rap With: Expressing Identity Through Music" use music to tell about their roots and their new life in Canada; to let people of other cultures understand each other.

Stories are powerful. Today, they can be readily created and shared. What stories can your community share with the world?

LINK: How Far Is Heaven (Trailer)
LINK: Interview with Colum McCann (Audio)
LINK: Mapping Memories Project (Video)