Time to Drop “Make Creativity Work” and “Make Community Work”?

Although I like the ideas incorporated in Make Creativity Work and Make Community Work, I’m beginning to think they aren’t the right way to frame these ideas.

I’ve been spending some time working on article queries as well as talking points, and the more I work with Make Creativity Work and Make Community Work, the more I think I’m to trying to pack in too many ideas. Each of them takes 3 bullet points to explain; that’s six in total. Add in an intro and other pieces that I need, and that’s an awful lot to digest.

Also, Make Creativity Work and Make Community Work are built on a series of assumptions that most people don’t make — e.g., why it’s important to build grassroots power at the heart of the economy the way unions did in the 40s and 50s. These assumptions make sense to most folks once they understand them, but that takes a bunch of explanation. As a result, it’s hard to concisely explain Make Creativity Work and Make Community Work: they require too much set up/context.

The other problem I’m running into is that because Make Creativity Work and Make Community Work have so many working parts, some of the points that are most important for me to highlight feel like they get lost in the shuffle. For example, almost no one who talks about the potential impact of robots talks about the importance of building grassroots power in the heart of the economy — or for that matter talks much about economic power at all.

Finally, I’ve never been entirely happy with the contrast between Make Creativity Work and Make Community Work. The word “creativity” plays a critical role in Make Creativity Work, but it’s always felt like someone to get the idea that I think the work that is covered in Make Community Work — e.g., taking care of kids or the elderly — isn’t creative. That’s definitely not the case, but given the history of male policy writers undervaluing what’s been traditionally seen as women’s work, I’m not entirely comfortable with it.

If I stop using Make Creativity Work and Make Community Work, what do I use instead? I don’t yet have short/snappy phrases to describe the new approach, but I think I can cover everything that’s critical in three buckets:

1) In every community, ensure that as many individuals as possible can learn the skills they need to participate in this economy — not only as tool users but as tool creators. This is critical not only so folks can make $$$, but also it’s needed for #2.

2) Build grassroots power at the heart of this to economy the way unions did in the 40s and 50s, only this time build power that includes every community. The goal: to ensure that everyone, not just a handful of corporations and the wealthy, gets a seat at the table with the decisions get made about how markets for this new economy will be structured and who will benefit (e.g., “YouTube Done Right”). And by ensuring that everyone will be empowered in this new economy generate unprecedented wealth.

3) Make Communities Whole. To guarantee everyone security, create a backstop, such as a mix of a Universal Basic Income and other opportunities that anyone could do and that reinforce our society’s values (e.g., “volunteer bucks”). Also provide resources for critical work the market doesn’t fully value, such as taking care of children and the elderly. And for communities that are devastated either by new crises, such as mass unemployment from robots, or have never recovered from previous damage, create a mini Marshall plan to get them back on their feet.

My first thoughts about this potential approach:

  • Although these three buckets still cover a lot of territory, I feel like I can streamline them enough that they will be easier for folks to wrap their heads around.

  • It feels like I’ll be able to more easily and more quickly & concisely lay out the assumptions behind each bucket. I won’t know for sure until I try, but it feels like rather than having a big, blobby set of assumptions followed by a lot of points and sub points, I should be able to end up with a nice clean table that encapsulates both the assumptions and the buckets.

  • My full version of the framework does a pretty good job of framing the Makers All argument in a historical context, but I haven’t been able to figure out how to do that in a more concise version — because my old framework covered so many points, the connections between the history and the points of the framework were too complicated to come up with a clean diagram. With a new approach, it feels like I might be able to pull that off.

Not bad for a first take! I’ll do a deeper dive next week, and by the end of the week I should have a first real draft of this new approach.

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