Decatur is an amazing city… and Maureen Haley, one of our Decatur Makers Founding Members, enjoyed an afternoon with other Decaturites in brainstorming the positives of why we love to live, work and play here. Thanks, Maureen! And in her own words, here’s what she had to say about the experience…
By Maureen Haley:
Would you be interested in doing a “Park Crawl”? How about a T-shirt that boldly states “De-Caturing to what feeds you… food, brews, tunes”??
Decatur Makers was invited by Linda Harris, Chief of Decatur’s Division of Civic Engagement, and Education & Communication to participate in a special workshop presented by Peter Kageyama, author of For the Love of Cities and Love Where You Live and hosted by the City of Decatur on March 27th.
We had a great turnout, about 50 or 60 folks, at the Decatur Recreation Center on a Friday afternoon and attendees sat in small groups around separate tables. Peter spoke to us about identifying the things we really love about our community, rather than focusing on the “potholes” that we want someone to fix. After showing examples of other cities’ successes, he asked each table to design a Decatur T-shirt with a slogan, illustration, or ‘inside joke’, aimed specifically at locals. The creativity demonstrated in just a few minutes was amazing. Here are a few I liked:
We were then challenged to really get innovative. Peter again spoke to us about how simple ideas can have big pay-offs. He showed clips of Seattle’s Rainworks – Rain Activated Art project, and Iowa’s Muscatine – large scale public art project the Muscatine River Monster. Each of our groups were asked to pitch a local project idea with a $500 budget. After, everyone voted for their favorites. The winner was a plan to juice Decatur’s Bright at Night campaign with flashy, fluorescent, or lighted clothes and/or accoutrements to better bright the group walks. Personally, my favorite was the Park Crawl!
The small group projects reminded me a lot of some of the Decatur Makers projects on which I’ve contributed, and the ideas of lighted clothing, an oversized Magnet Board to spell out what folks love about Decatur and take selfies, and the motion sensor bubble machine are just the kind of builds we’ve been doing for the last couple of years. Peter’s approach is to focus on the positive things we see and love in our community and it felt really encouraging to work with that in a group of folks I didn’t even know (shout out to my table-mates!), but who also had things about Decatur they love.