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If you could ask one question to all of your neighbors, what would you ask?

Live TED Conversation: Join TED Fellow Candy Chang

Candy is a public installation artist, designer, and urban planner who likes to make cities more comfortable for people. She's passionate about redefining the ways we use public space to share information that can improve our neighborhoods and our personal well-being. See more of her at http://candychang.com and http://civiccenter.cc.

This conversation will open at 3pm EST on Monday, August 1, 2011.

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    Aug 1 2011: Do you feel it's easier to engage a community when people seem to innately care about doing so? I tried to do some things in a small town and there was such a sense of curmudgeonliness (that's probably not a word) that it was very hard to make any dents/progress. It was sort of like I was the only one who cared.
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      Aug 1 2011: I agree - the one activist is kind of lonely. so maybe it is time to make friends first, then get active - as a group. of course this take longer; and one must adjust the ideas for improvement. but still it might be worthwhile if more are doing less - than one doing it all ???
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      Aug 1 2011: Hi Anne - I hear you. I have lived in places where community engagement is not the first thing on people's minds. It's definitely easier in areas where people have already organized themselves around community issues and people are already ready to get their hands dirty. But that's also a great challenge! To show the value of coming together, perhaps even for simply practical reasons or common pain points. What things have you tried doing?
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        Aug 1 2011: see below. i was able to successfully complete http://www.mywishforozark.com/ but i tried a lot of other things that were met with resistance. And then my time in that town was done. I do see them making changes though and I feel a little like maybe I helped start the ball rolling.
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          Aug 1 2011: Hi, nice project, well done for getting so many responses! I think the trick is in not underestimating the value of people's time. I have had much better responses to projects where I am literally handing it to people... I think a necessary prioritisation of 'daily life stuff' can be misinterpreted as apathy and it's really important to be able to clearly communicate what you expect the benefit of participation will be to people. But giving things out helps. and everyone likes cake. I think my next project will involve cake. ;)
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          Aug 1 2011: Out of curiosity... If you got left a muffin with an apartment number and an invite for a coffee iced on it or something... Would you eat it...? Or would you mistrust the muffin..?!
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          Aug 1 2011: Hey Anne - What a cool project with so many interesting wishes! Thanks for sharing. And Annabeth brings up a great point about busy lives misinterpreted as apathy. Even if we love our community, we all have things to do. We're busy. Our time and energy are precious. How do we make it REALLY easy for people to participate in ways that are constructive?

          Not everyone wants to be a community leader, but I know a lot of people who'd be happy to give 10 minutes a week or an hour a month (including me). And that would greatly help the passionate people trying to get great things done in their community. How do we easily tap that? Micro-tasks for volunteering?

          And Annabeth - Ha what a great question. The Friendly But Mysterious Muffin Question. I think it depends on how much foot traffic passes by the muffin. In my current living context (very public with lots of drunk passers-by) I would knock on the apt door first and ask them if they left a muffin. If they say yes, then I would happily snarf it down. If I get ill, I know where they live.
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        Aug 1 2011: Annabeth - it was actually literal apathy. Went something like this:

        "My wish for Ozark?...I don't have a wish for ozark, i don't care, ozark never did anythng for me!" and so on. But other did join along.

        To answer your question, I would definitely not trust the muffin.
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          Aug 1 2011: Hmm. Tricky. This muffin idea needs work. Ok. My new mission - fight apathy with muffins! Watch this space! ;)

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