CLEARWATER — Children, pets and plants thrive if you love them.
So do cities.
And people who love their city can make things happen in unexpected ways. That's the message that creative activist Peter Kageyama is bringing to Clearwater.
Invited by the Clearwater Downtown Partnership, Kageyama spoke to nearly 100 leaders from Clearwater's public and private sectors at a luncheon Wednesday. He'll follow that up by facilitating a half-day community workshop next Wednesday at the Main Library.
The goal is to foster ideas for how Clearwater residents can show their love for the city, and how Clearwater can love them back.
Kageyama is a St. Petersburg-based consultant who helped establish the nonprofit group Creative Tampa Bay and who self-published a book called For the Love of Cities: The Love Affair Between People and Their Places.
Surveys show that most Americans don't particularly love their city and aren't engaged with their community, he told Wednesday's audience. Most cities have a small activist core that makes things happen.
Since local governments are broke, it's time for private citizens to be the catalysts for change, Kageyama said. People who love their cities can be empowered and persuaded to step up and do creative, positive things.
"They just don't know how to get in the game," he said. "They don't think they have permission."
He gave examples of out-of-the-box ideas used in other cities — like an online "lip dub" video that thousands of Grand Rapids, Mich., residents shot after Newsweek put their home on a list of "America's Dying Cities." It was a 22-year-old's idea.
Or there's the way Shelburne Falls, Mass., closes down a traffic bridge once a year, sets up banquet tables on it, and serves dinner to hundreds.
The goal here is to foster something unique and different in Clearwater. The Community Redevelopment Agency and the Downtown Development Board each paid $3,750 for Kageyama's visit.
Mike Brassfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4151. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.