I’ve been on a bit of a Las Vegas Downtown Project tear lately, in part because it embodies a whole new approach to a lot of the issues I raised in the book. One of the big challenges with talking about the Downtown Project as a model, though, is that there are a whole hell of a lot of moving parts — even after spending a lot of time talking to people, and re-talking to people, and listening to people, and more and more, I still have a hard time getting my head around everything that’s going on. That’s in part because it’s not all driven by the organization, as I discussed a little bit in this post at Wise Economy Workshop.
While I was there recently, I had the bright idea of shooting some video of the surroundings. Of course, I had this bright idea after I was back in my crash pad for the night on the last night before I headed home, so this video is missing a few of the better-known of the Downtown Project components, like the Container Park and the Learning Village. But I thought there was a significant value in introducing some of the elements that don’t get so much play, and I think it’s powerful to see the relative proximity of the elements.
We underestimate the importance of proximity a lot of times — we often face a huge social and political pressure to spread our investments or our efforts over a very broad area, but in the long term it seems more and more that concentrating those initial efforts on a very small area makes a crucial impact on whether an effort can be sustained. We need to generate a multiplier effect that goes far beyond the little bit that our organization can invest all by itself, and for reasons that I don’t always completely understand, plain old physical proximity seems to play a big role in determining whether that multiplier kicks in or fizzles out.
That said, here’s the video. As per usual, I feel the need to apologize for a few dizzying spins and wobbles. I’m getting better at this, but no Emmys yet. You’ve been warned.