Our project is based on a simple premise, derived from on-going work with community innovators: places become more innovative and thrive as more people, from all parts of the community, explore changing dynamics, engage with others, and experiment with ideas for positive change, while community leaders establish policies and develop practices that enable this to happen more frequently and effectively.
So, what is community innovation? Definitions and measures of innovation differ. For example, some researchers gauge innovation by the production of new patents or technologies, while others link regional innovation to the presence of research universities or technology companies. Other scholars cite the potential economic benefits of workforce attraction efforts, particularly those cities and regions where professional or creative class workers tend to conglomerate. Some experts point to density and metropolitan population as a primary driver.
Instead of seeking to define or measure innovation, we pose different questions: namely, how can communities, of all shapes and sizes, thrive in the midst of change? How can people explore community transitions and advance ideas for positive change? That is, how to encourage more residents to experiment, to tinker, to help shape a thriving, vibrant place?
Our project does not offer a prescribed path, but does suggest a framework; shares stories, reflections and research; and provides a reservoir of ideas for change.