TALLAHASSEE, FL- Wanted: 30 volunteers who have good ideas for ways to improve life in Tallahassee.
The Knight Creative Communities Institute is seeking new “community catalysts” who will work with local leaders and advocates to develop projects aimed at diversifying Tallahassee’s economy beyond government and higher education. Applications will be accepted until Aug. 8.
Laurie D. Hartsfield, executive director of KCCI, said the institute is seeking volunteers who reflect Tallahassee in terms of age, race, education and professional background.
Catalysts combine the work of social theorist Richard Florida with survey data and community discussions to devise new ways to help the city’s economy grow. The volunteers will participate in three days of training and continue to meet over the course of a year, Hartsfield said.
At the training session, the catalysts review data pertinent to this area, consider data from creative cities around the country, and reflect on what is happening in this city.
“After that informational sharing process, catalysts will ‘post’ their project ideas and then narrow the list to a final three projects. Catalysts then self-select which projects they’d like to work on over the following 12 months,” she said.
In the 2007 pilot initiative, the catalysts created the Tallahassee Film Festival, the environmental group Sustainable Tallahassee, and Get Gaines Going, the plan to turn the street into an arts and entertainment district.
More recently, catalysts for 2010-11 created Amp Up Tallahassee, which is planning a city-wide music event Oct. 1, and the Southside Sense of Place team. That group has been working with Southside businesses, residents and the Tallahassee-Leon County Planning Department to create the South Monroe-Adams Street Corridor Plan. The first phase of the project was approved by the Tallahassee City Commission in June.
John Fleming was a community catalyst who worked on Talent Lives Here in 2009-10, the initiative to encourage more college graduates to stay in Tallahassee and become part of the area’s work force.
“It was a great experience, a great program,” he said. The experience showed him the importance of supporting good ideas with commitment and energy to see them materialize.
“There’s no shortage of ideas, but it takes really strong leadership to execute those ideas,” Fleming added. Sometimes, innovators must overcome some resistance and work to build support for new projects, as was the case for Get Gaines Going.
Hartsfield said KCCI is looking for volunteers who are seasoned leaders in the community, as well as those who are looking for a way to engage for the first time.
“It is important that all catalysts know how and are willing to work well with other members of a team,” she said. “We’re looking for individuals with creative ideas who are passionate and persist in overcoming any minor obstacles they might face.”
For more on KCCI’s community catalysts and their work, visit http://kccitallahassee.com or call 201-6442.