Yesterday, my friend and fellow New Work City coworker Ray of ThinkDesign took a bunch of us through a creative brainstorming exercise to drum up lots of ideas for where we can go with our community next year and beyond. It was an incredibly awesome exercise, because we were forced to throw out ideas in such a rapid-fire way that we didn’t have a chance to second guess ourselves. We also took on the personas of famous figures, which forced us to look at things from different perspectives. On the other side we ended up with ideas that we may never have thought about otherwise.

The central question revolved around what we could do next year to set up NWC to be something that is secured for a long time, while also taking on a renewed sense of purpose and ambition.

What kinds of things did we learn? Here are a few takeaways:

What would George Washington do if he ran New Work City?

At first, I didn’t think there’d be a lot to come up with for this. For all we revere George, what do we really know about him and his beliefs? Well, maybe we can just use our rough understanding of what he means to us, and go from there. What would he do?

  • He’d declare war on his oppressors.
  • He’d collaborate with his friends to articulate a set of core values.
  • He’d develop an open source system of democracy.
  • He’d keep the power in the hands of the people.
  • He’d be first and most famous.
    • (Really, think about it. We have a capitol city, a state, a currency, and so much more in his name, in part because of this fact.)
  • He’d envision things 100 years down the road.
  • He’d forge alliances.
  • He’d look at the current circumstances and find ways to turn them to his advantage.

What would Donald Trump do if he ran New Work City?

We used him as the “anti-example,” and sure enough the first few notes I drew up were more punchlines than productive ideas. But after I got that out of my system, something funny happened. It turns out that, while we may never want to do things the way Trump would do them, we might have something to learn from it anyway. What would he do?

  • He’d be unafraid to take big risks.
  • He’d commit to a really ambitious project and compel everyone to believe it can happen.
  • He’d not be afraid to make people angry with his beliefs.
  • He’d write a book about how awesome and successful he is and why people should emulate him. (Okay, we’re not going to do this, but maybe we could glean something from it?)
  • Brand brand brand brand brand.
  • He’d find a way to profit from the legions of unemployed and underemployed (ha!)

What would Martin Luther King, Jr do if he ran New Work City?

We have much to learn from the Civil Rights Movement and one of the great leaders of the past century. What would he do?

  • He’d give a voice and vision to the oppressed.
  • He’d have a dream and talk about it.
  • He’d write and give a speech that resonates deeply with people.
  • He’d empower people to organize and act.
  • He’d appeal to human decency.
  • He’d focus on the needs of a specific group of people.
  • He’d align himself with an unstoppable force (God).
  • He’d stage visible protests.
  • He’d call out injustice and publicly oppose it.
  • He’d bring the power to the have-nots.
  • He’d show the power of gentleness and compassion.

How do these notions filter down to an actionable plan? We’ll cover that next. Whatever we decide to do, we’ll have the wisdom of some great (and not so great but remarkable nonetheless) individuals to guide us.


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