Reverend Steve Jones: Can you offer your time and talents for an Exmouth Ministry of Imagination?
PUBLISHED: 08:00 25 October 2020
In this week’s column, Reverend Steve Jones ponders whether an Exmouth Ministry of Imagination could help solve some of the town’s issues
In 2013 a new mayor was elected for Mexico City, Mexico, a metropolitan area of 21.3 million people.
The city was besieged with issues, and no one seemed to be able to make any headway in solving them. One of the new mayor’s first acts in office was to call Gabriella Gomez-Mont, a woman with an impressive background in journalism, visual arts, filmmaking, and creative thinking, and invite her to start from scratch what was, for all intents and purposes, a Ministry of Imagination.
The mayor wanted Gabriella to bring together some sensible, capable, grass-roots residents to look at the issues facing their city, and to brainstorm some fresh and novel approaches to the problems.
The new group was asked to dream up solutions that were better and bolder than those that had been tried before.
There was a sense that the leaders of the city were so constrained by their workload, their past experiences, their fears, and their anxieties that some potentially workable options might never occur to them.
It seemed that the mayor wanted to ask the people closest to the problems what they thought might be done to renew and restore the city that they loved.
Since I heard of this brave initiative, I have been thinking a lot about the concept of a Ministry of Imagination, where local people are empowered to think boldly and bravely about what their future community might look like.
William Blake famously said that ‘What is now proved, was once only imagined.’ Human society moves forward only when women and men dare to dream.
Imagination is hard work, as we labour and strive to conceive what does not yet exist, and for which we likely have no frame of reference.
Imagination takes courage, a willingness to be mocked, and a movable understanding of what ‘impossible’ means.
Using collective community wisdom is also a Christian principle. The beginning of the Book of Proverbs in the Bible is all about the search for wisdom.
In chapter 15 come these words: ‘There is wisdom in the counsel of many.’ The principle is that if we wish to find the best solutions to the problems of life, we gather around us as many wise counselors as we are able, and then in our midst wisdom will appear.What might it look like if, in the midst of Covid-19, we set up some local groups that were tasked with brainstorming bold new solutions to some of our biggest issues? What I have learned,
in the short time that I have lived in Exmouth, is that there are some very bright and capable people in our town.
These are people who are already busy leading in their fields of expertise, such as medicine, engineering, teaching, design, homemaking, writing, early years education, social care, broadcasting, tourism, and heritage preservation, to name but a few.
These people are creative dreamers who can think around corners, rework challenges to make them opportunities, and make something great appear out of absolutely nothing.
What if we invited our novel thinkers and best problem solvers to meet and harness their dreaming power to address our largest presenting issues? What if we also put to work the technological and creative skills of our local teenagers?
As well as being an encouragement to our over-burdened local leaders, such an initiative may also infuse into our community a renewed sense of partnership between the people and their problems.
I suspect that there are right now, reading this article, people who know that they are one of the profoundly innovative thinkers that I am talking about.
Can I ask - if the call were put out for your help, would you offer your time and talents for free? I believe some of you would.
Let us see if anyone else gets inspired by the idea of an Exmouth Ministry of Imagination!
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