TED Conversations

Ziska Childs

Freelancer, united scenic artists


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How do we get back the neighborhood?

Of course I'm referencing the 2012 TED prize The talk which inspired this question has been posted: Jen Pahlka talking about "Peace Corps for Geeks" aka- coding for government. One of the ideas in that talk which resonated for me was it's not about making the bureaucracy easier- it's about solving the problems. More often than not that means getting the bureaucracy out of the way and letting people be neighborly. "Adopt a fire hydrant"- shovel it out when there's a snow storm. That's pretty simple stuff and it promotes Community - with an upper case "C".

I've seen my own home town go from a place where I could walk to everything (the butcher the baker the candlestick maker) to one where there are 30,000 vehicle round trips a day. This is for a town of 6000 residents. The service providers drive in and out for work. The residents drive out and in to go to school, the hospital, the rec center and to find lower priced goods. Employee housing (also out of town-but closer) has resulted in a boost for the construction industry which increases the service trips in and out. Placing a transfer tax on real estate has favored flipping and cowboy development. I only mention this to emphasize that treating the symptom doesn't work and the unintended consequences can be devastating.

So, how do we get back the neighborhood? How do we get back the Community?


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    Mar 11 2012: Smile at a stranger, say hello. Start a conversation when you wait in line. Most easily accomplished by noticing something "nice" or positive about the person, And say it out loud :) Believe me it is really easy and the gift is that You both feel better.
    How many people can you say something to, to see them smile in one day :)
    Our communities all start with US! Can we be the reminders of what seemingly has been forgotten? Can we grow or make a product to sell or barter it in our neighborhood.? It only takes one person to start.
    I see how such seemingly "small actions" has been the beginning of changes where I live.
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      Mar 13 2012: Is there something which can promote kindness in the City2.0?
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        Mar 15 2012: Ziska:
        Yes, imho, definitely. My experience tells me that one kind act more often than not will snowball. By being and acting kindly we set an example for others.

        You let a car enter in front of you; keep an eye on the car and most likely you'll see the driver stop for someone else. A banal example maybe, however being kind will generate kindness. I do not think telling or suggesting to people to be kind works too well. Nor do I think that a "program" to promote kindness would be effective. Although the popular (around here) bumper sticker "Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty" does seem to allow some people to take notice.
        I feel that we mostly learn by example.
        PS I had to look up City 2.0 (Laughing) I wasn't sure what you were talking about. It could have been a computer game for all that I knew :)
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          Mar 15 2012: I hope they post the talks for the TED prize soon. That will help explain it better than I ever could.

          Yes, being kind to each other - basic politeness- cannot be overrated.

          OTOH City 2.0 as a computer game what a great idea! Jane McGonigal's talk at TED was inspiring


          If we can use gamification to get local citizens interested in their own neighborhood development that might be a way to get more people involved. Too often people only become involved in local government when they have something to complain about. If we could get people involved for "fun" that would be (pardon the pun) a game changer. Think of it as Farmville for City Council.
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        Mar 28 2012: How about kindness/hugging flash mobs? Here is the Haleleujah chorus in a food court.
        Of course, this would take a little more PLANNING than a a spontaneous event....

        I suspect the civic authorities are cautious about such things because they are so UNCONTROLLED.

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