Bright Lights initiative to ‘crowdsource’ cultural opportunities in Freeport meets Jan. 13
From press release
FREEPORT, Ill.—A group of Stephenson County residents interested in expanding the range of cultural, social and intellectual experiences available in the Freeport area will hold a community visioning meeting at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010, at the Freeport Public Library, 100 E. Douglas St.
The planned meeting is part of the Bright Lights initiative, whose purpose is to build a network of local knowledge professionals, artists, creative individuals, independent businesspeople, community organizers and gifted young leaders, which can
new cultural events, organizations and businesses.
is the solving of problems by inviting a large number of interested participants to freely share their knowledge and perspectives in a process that’s open to everybody.
The name ‘Bright Lights’ recognizes and honors the many knowledgeable and creative individuals living in the Freeport area,
says Keith Ammann, a leading organizer of the initiative.
It’s also a retort to the cliche’ about declining cities: ‘Would the last person to leave turn out the lights?’ We want to not only keep the lights on but turn them up brighter, and add some new ones.
The initiative was inspired by the work of Richard Florida, the author of The Rise of the Creative Class, who found a correlation between an area’s economic health and the extent to which it supports the needs and desires of
workers: scientists, engineers, architects, designers, educators, artists, musicians and writers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2006-2008 American Community Survey, 1 in 6 workers in Stephenson County belongs to this classcompared with only 1 in 11 in the Chicago areaand their median income is 45 percent higher than the countywide average. Florida writes that creative class workers are attracted to
natural cultural districts
: locales with a high density of cultural events, comfortable hangouts, face-to-face meeting places and social networks.
The first step in the Bright Lights initiative is to identify and connect creative residents who’d like to see more of these events, scenes and gathering places in Freeport.
but we’re not talking to each other yet.
A Web site, http://brightlightsfreeport.ning.com, has been set up as a place where interested residents can share ideas with one another and learn more about the crowdsourcing concept.
Registering on the Web site doesn’t mean you’re committing time or money,
It just gives us a way of communicating directly with this creative community, which right now is scattered. It identifies you as someone who’s part of this community and who’ll use whatever events, businesses or organizations are eventually created as a result of this initiative. It’s something we can show to organizers, entrepreneurs, landlords and lenders and say, ‘Here’s a guaranteed customer base, waiting for you to create this.’ How much you want to get involved beyond that is entirely up to you.
The second step in the initiative is the community visioning meeting at the library in January, at which participants can meet face-to-face and discuss what opportunities they’d most like to see created. The third step is to find sympathetic sponsors to create those opportunities that draw the most support.
The focus on
comes from psychological studies showing that spending money on possessions doesn’t increase people’s happiness, but spending money on experiences does.
Organizers are counting on word of mouth to bring interested participants into the conversation. They hope to get at least 100 users registered on http://brightlightsfreeport.ning.com by the January meeting and eventually to grow to a community of 300 to 500.
The more people we can get involved, the better the outcome will reflect what we want to see, and the more interest and confidence we can raise in the organizers and the businesspeople who will turn our vision into reality,
From the Dec. 30, 2009 – Jan. 5, 2010 issue
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