Maximising the Philanthropic Dollar
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Maximising the Philanthropic Dollar Lessons from research into innovative country towns People have mobility choices: to move towards something that is relatively attractive; to stay somewhere that is relatively attractive; or to move away from somewhere relatively unattractive. The question is: Who moves, who doesn’t, and why? Mobility choices are not random. It is the more creative and innovative who move. Almost no towns existed in Australia 200 years ago. Towns were created in response to a particular social and economic need, populated by people who made a mobility choice. Nobody cried when those towns were created (except perhaps the indigenous people). The reason for the establishment of most towns no longer exists. Towns that thrive reinvent themselves. Language differences People in non-innovative towns say ‘Why don’t they ….?’ or ‘When are they going to ….?’ in innovative towns say ‘How can People we ….?’ Beware of the Leaders Research respondents were asked to describe themselves as (a) a community leader, (b) somebody with knowledge and expertise that could be called upon, or (c) a support person. The least innovative towns reported the highest numbers of leaders. The most innovative town reported almost none. Leadership is a two-edged sword. It is an act of civic responsibility. It is also an act of denying someone the opportunity to gain civic experience. The more that leadership responsibility can be experienced and shared, the more innovative is the town. Where should we invest the philanthropic dollar? Do not invest in the towns that ask for it. Invest in fostering mobility choices. Invest in newcomers to a town. Invest in young people. Invest in continuing education for all. Invest in diversity. Invest in capacity building. Invest in the arts and creative endeavour. Invest in celebration. Invest in the arts and creative endeavour The most innovative towns nurtured their creative spirit and publicly celebrated it. Creativity is the well-spring of innovation. Do not invest in the towns that ask for it. Theleast innovative towns pursued funding but did not have the passion or capacity to use it. The most innovative towns pursued projects with vision and passion. Money was not the object. Project achievement was. Invest in fostering mobility choices. Creative people are the most mobile. Mobility puts the best talent where it can thrive. Inhibiting mobility benefits no-one. Invest in newcomers to a town. Creatinga welcoming atmosphere, an atmosphere of acceptance, encourages people to come and to stay. New people into a town are the biggest investors into its social and economic fabric. Invest in young people. Youth represents renewal and vitality. The voices of youth are seldom honoured in rural settings. Young families are often the crucible through which civic responsibility develops. Invest in continuing education for all. Innovation thrives on life-long learning. Immigrants expect a level of service comparable to that received in the larger centre they came from. Invest in diversity A catalyst for creativity of diversity. requires the prerequisite of Diversity tolerance. Thecreative talent that many towns crave, they already have. The town just chases it away through lack of tolerance of diversity. Invest in capacity building Inthe most innovative towns, people will say: ‘We did it ourselves’. The critical skills needed to grow an inclusive, diverse and tolerant society are not taught in mainstream education. Invest in creativity Creativity is the well spring of innovation. The creative talent that rural towns crave, they already have. They just chase it away. Worship the weirdoes. Invest in celebration Peoplewant to live in happy, positive, and accepting places. Create opportunities for public celebration of affirmation: ‘We like living here’; ‘We like each other’, ‘We have a sense of unity and identity’.