David Brooks has an excellent column in today's NYT calling for Obama's infrastructure project to include a dramatic, innovative rethink of U.S. urban living patterns. Brooks says:
This kind of stimulus would be consistent with Obama’s campaign, which was all about bringing Americans together in new ways. It would help maintain the social capital that’s about to be decimated by the economic downturn.
But alas, there’s no evidence so far that the Obama infrastructure plan is attached to any larger social vision. In fact, there is a real danger that the plan will retard innovation and entrench the past.
I wonder - what role could a community like DIYcity play in achieving that innovation? In helping to define the vision for that innovation? In energizing people to make that innovation happen in their communities on their own, with or without the aid and assistance of government offices?
Brooks goes on to say:
Obama wants to put more computers in classrooms, an old idea with dubious educational merit. He also proposes a series of ideas that are good but not exactly transformational: refurbishing the existing power grid; fixing the oldest roads and bridges; repairing schools; and renovating existing government buildings to make them more energy efficient.
People on DIYcity can do a lot better than renovating government buildings. The ideas I've seen here on the site in the past few weeks already outstrip those ideas considerably. And we're just getting started.
Is innovation something that happens best from the inside of government organizations? Or is it something that best happens when the government gives groups, organizations, corporations, access to the tools and resources they need to make real innovation happen?
I think it is the latter.
So how do we get that message across to the people charging ahead with ideas for change in Washington? How do we engage the government on this discussion, so that the innovation that happens is really innovative?