Tag Archives: city

What is an entpreneurial city? What are its building blocks and whose doing the building?

We’d best mindful that entrepreneurship is (at least) a double edge sword – carrying with it connotations of Delboy behaviour, illicit grey economy dealings, making a quick buck doubly fast but without a grain of civilising or moral coding behind it.

Whilst it can mean being creative, innovative, flexible, and focused on spotting income generation opportunities when none existed before, none of these things in their own right are necessarily ‘good’ or ‘bad’ things. It depends on what is done in the name of entrepreneurship as to its resultant value.

So, an entrepreneurial city could either be the city from hell – much like Tokyo in Bladerunners, or it could be an en-nobled, ennobling civilised space in which people’s entrepreneurial behaviour is directed towards the greater good rather than their own bank accounts. An entrepreneurial city could either be filled with wide boys, hoods and spivs – or it could be like Venice. Or both. The choice is ours – i.e. all the inhabitants of that city, not just the choice of the ‘entrepreneurs’ whose interest might just be focused on their own economic destiny.

The building blocks of an entrepreneurial city might be

…The way it treats its poor, its excluded and its disillusioned
…The way it gives air time and political influence to individual spirits
…The way it doesn’t preferentially focus on the ‘big boys’ of the economy but supports the development of nano-, micro- and mini- SMEs
…The way it recognises and values local culture – not just traditional, mainstream arts and museums but the myriad of ways in which people go about things and create value, difference and impact
…The way it values diversity and difference
…The way it doesn’t only tolerate dissention but appreciates it
…The way it regulates itself and public behaviours
…The way it values risk, challenge and uncertainty
…The way it engages with the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi: a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete” (Wikipedia)

So, if we want to start making an entrepreneurial city we’re probably best starting at home. Our offices and premises could be reflective of those building blocks; we should worry less about PR aspects and not be so anxious about making mistakes. Entrepreneurialism is founded on risk, learning, making mistakes and recovery. If we want to encourage that, we have to breath the same kind of air once in a while too.

Here’s how a creative school becomes a creative city (2)

Impresa and Coletta’s Tool-Kit for Cities suggests that cities:

* Deliver an ‘appealing reality’, because ‘young people are very savvy in assessing cities’;
* Put values on display, demonstrating how the city ‘welcomes newcomers and new ideas’;
* Keep in touch with former residents, and find ways to have them ‘return to your city’;
* Create opportunities for civic involvement, deliberately seeking out the opinions of young people;
* Use internships to connect with young adults;
* Survey young adults regularly, including ‘exit interviews’;
* Celebrate young entrepreneurs and civic contributors;
* Communicate development plans to young adults;
* Promote your city: ‘place marketing works best when it is based on authentic stories that people are willing to tell about their cities’;
* Promote a young adult lifestyle, particularly ‘active nightlife’, and do not be fearful that this might ‘scare off the soccer moms’

Mapping out these criteria for creative cities against schools OfSTED reports offers some tentative support to the notion that schools, rather than places of teaching and learning actually are better described as creative cities.

According to OfSTED, Fichte Nursery School in Hull for example delivers an appealing reality as what pleases parents most about the school is that Children are expected to work hard as well as have fun in the nursery and this leads to good progress.. The teaching is good and staff have high expectations as to behaviour and the children’s response…

The school also can demonstrate that it puts its values on display, demonstrating how the city welcomes newcomers and new ideas as The nursery classes and corridors are full of attractive displays and a wide range of artifacts that children can see and handle at any time.

The school also demonstrably keeps in touch with former residents, and finds ways to have them return to the city through parents evenings, governors meetings as well as through the development of the Fichte Parents Writers Group (FPWG): a group of parents who, through a creative writing project researched the experiences of previous attendees of the school and encouraged them to share those experiences and stories through that project.

Furthermore, the school creates opportunities for civic involvement, deliberately seeking out the opinions of young people through its involvement in several local and government initiatives such as Sure Start and the building of the new Children’s Centre which aims to support parents and their children in close partnership with the school. It uses internships to connect with young adults by playing host regularly to trainee student teachers and research students. It can also be seen to survey young adults regularly (through regular parental consultative processes) and celebrates its young entrepreneurs and civic contributor’s as: the children’s work is always celebrated by displaying it very effectively across the school.

According to these criteria then, Fichte Nursery School qualifies as a creative City. The implications for this shift are manifold. Membership of school communities becomes more explicitly transitional and relationships between members more based on qualities of corporate society than the kin relationships of community.

New definitions of community consequently emerge in which whilst there are new spaces for diversity and difference to be explored also lend themselves for surprising new conflicts to emerge.

Simple causal relationships between landusers in the city of Fichte Nursery School can not easily be demonstrated; they become spaces in which minor events have major, surprising and unexpected consequences and if Eve Miteldon Kelly is right: when one entity tries to improve its fitness or position, this may result in a worsening condition for others. Each ‘improvement’ in one entity therefore may impose associated ‘costs’ on other entities, either within the same system or on other related systems. Mitleton-Kelly (2003)

This has significant for the successful (or otherwise) implementation of school improvement agendas. Complexity theory would suggest that the emergence of winners brings about the emergence of losers. When schools are engaged in competitions for pupil numbers, for positions on a league table, for higher CVA ratings, it is not as if they are running on an Olympic race track with competing athletes to see who can run 100m the fastest: in the competition that Nursery School Cities are part of, the ‘front runners’ are partially responsible for determining the state of the race track of those lagging ‘behind’.

More on this at https://drnicko.wordpress.com/2011/10/12/how-does-a-creative-school-become-a-creative-city/

How does a creative school become a creative city?

Many cities around the world present themselves as undergoing programmes of regeneration by aiming to engage the efforts of the local ‘creative communities‘ for the benefits of the city and and presenting themselves as a site of creativity and hub of contemporary culture.

In The Rise of the Creative Class Richard Florida interprets these ‘creative communities’ as a creative class: latter day, Platonic philosopher rulers, requiring ‘less creative’ members of society who struggle to cite a single classical composer or who don’t know their Michael Jackson from their Jackson Pollock, to provide services and facilities which they – the creative classes – are either too busy, preoccupied or aloof to have to contend with themselves.

Ironically, the city’s desire to democratise creativity, to become an attractive place for ‘the creatives’ and to make creativity a gregarious cultural process tends to generate a hierarchical structure of city boundaried privileged locations of loft conversions and artistic architraves amongst the archetypes.

Jamie Peck’s analysis of Florida suggests that: Florida’s street level analog of such attempts to ‘harness’ creativity comes in the form of a celebration of the buzzing, trendy neighborhood, a place where everyday innovation occurs through spontaneous interaction… a place where outsiders can quickly become insiders’…

Schools who wish to develop creativity in the classroom perhaps begin to resemble creative cities as outsiders are encouraged to visit them with the enticements of earning potential or employment, becoming in the process a veritable market place for creative practitioners.

Peck continues to identify what is required of a city to make the transformation to a creative city by referring to the development of a Tool-kit for Cities by Cortwright, for the American management consultancy, Impresa and Coletta:

Impresa and Coletta’s Tool-Kit for Cities

* Deliver an ‘appealing reality’, because ‘young people are very savvy in assessing cities’;
* Put values on display, demonstrating how the city ‘welcomes newcomers and new ideas’;
* Keep in touch with former residents, and find ways to have them ‘return to your city’;
* Create opportunities for civic involvement, deliberately seeking out the opinions of young people;
* Use internships to connect with young adults;
* Survey young adults regularly, including ‘exit interviews’;
* Celebrate young entrepreneurs and civic contributors;
* Communicate development plans to young adults;
* Promote your city: ‘place marketing works best when it is based on authentic stories that people are willing to tell about their cities’;
* Promote a young adult lifestyle, particularly ‘active nightlife’, and do not be fearful that this might ‘scare off the soccer moms’

Mapping out these criteria for creative cities against schools OfSTED reports offers some tentative support to the notion that schools, rather than places of teaching and learning actually are better described as creative cities. The pedagogical implications of seeing a school as a city are immense and will be explored in later blogs.