Big ideas for our small city

I blogged from Roanoke. I did it from my phone, I swear, but it’s not here. Perhaps that’s a good thing, though, because that means we get to skip over my OMG THIS IS SO GREAT post and get to the real stuff, the real ideas. But only a few of them because there’s too much to cover and think about for one post.

Celia, her husband Randy, and I traveled to Roanoke, VA, last week for the CityWorks(X)po “Big Ideas for Small Cities” conference. I’ve been talking about it on here for about a month because I was so excited to learn and to share with other small cities and big thinkers in the country.

And OMG IT WAS SO GREAT. Speakers from Toni Blackman to Nicco Mele, and James Howard Kunstler to Theaster Gates. Ideas about downtowns, about the arts, about local food, about relationships with our neighbors. Talks about the power of social media and the end of big, about filling each others’ cups, about using improv as a means for creativity and relaxation. I have pages and pages of notes. I have an initial page and a half of ideas for HubCulture and Spartanburg. Here are a few highlights below. But I want to invite you to an as-yet-not-officially-scheduled community meeting at The Showroom in December to talk about our community and how we can help it grow even greater. I’m super excited to share these ideas with you and hear yours, too!

Toni Blackman doing an improv spoken word poem with two attendees.

A few nuggets of wisdom:

  • The first follower transforms a nut into a leader. (Bob Lambert) Watch this!
  • It takes clarity and leadership with vision and a shared purpose and all followers to drive movement. (Nicco Mele)
  • Embrace freestyle (improv) as an opportunity for growth and relaxation. The power of not thinking is when brilliance begins to shine. (Toni Blackman)
  • Use fun to strengthen the economy (and a billion more awesome, specific ideas). (Kennedy Smith)
  • It’s not just a trail, it’s a whole different way of engaging with our public space. (Mia Birk)
  • See the strange familiar, the familiar strange. (Beth Macy)

Okay, I have to stop there because this is becoming a list of wisdom not tied to the specific ideas. But I can’t write you everything, so take these nuggets as cups that held fabulous ideas and advice. And as I process everything I learned, and as we at HUB-BUB digest our ideas, I’ll let you know more. Because there’s lots more. Because those speakers were just from the first afternoon and morning. Because I’m just so excited to build on what we have here.

The beautiful Hotel Roanoke where we stayed.


Megan McCormick, who was amazing at the Kirk Avenue Music Hall, and who we'd love to bring to The Showroom.


Celia and Kari with Spooky Margaritas at Flannery's.


Roanoke Valley from the Blue Ridge Parkway



Filed under HUB-BUB Staff, Kari Jackson

2 responses to “Big ideas for our small city

  1. Super excited to see how it all unfolds =D

  2. Not unfold…. Comes together =D

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