Get Wise Fool Press publications in print here, for your Kindle Reader here, and for other e-readers right here!
Leading or supporting deep, meaningful change in your community… well, it’s damned hard work. Old answers don’t work, new answers are still fuzzy, colleagues and residents don’t get it, and bosses can be… well, you know.
After years of dinking around the edges, we know it’s time to marshal the forces to make the changes our communities need. But to do that, we need three things:
- Toolkits to help us do the day-to-day things better;
- Understanding of the Trends to see where the future might be leading us,
- and perhaps most importantly, Wisdom and bravery to undertake that hard work — and the encouragement of knowing that we are not alone.
The Wise Fool Press is designed to give you those three types of fuels — quickly, efficiently, and through the platforms that makes the best sense for you. We bring you deep thoughts and practical tools to help you navigate, and to help your community ride the waves of change. We don’t believe in magic bullets, and we don’t believe in selling snake oil. What we do believe is that we need to figure out better solutions. And that we’re in this together.
Our first three publications represent different types of fuel:
- Crowdsourcing Wisdom: A guide to doing public meetings that actually make your community better (and won’t make people wish they hadn’t come) demonstrates that the ways we do day-to-day democracy – figure out what people want their governments to do, get people involved in decisions the way we know we should… Way too often, the only response we get is a useless response. Our bigger problem, though, is the thousands that we don’t hear from. Who may see and understand things that we, the Insiders, are missing.
Those people are not failing to participate because they don’t care about the places where they live. They’re failing to participate because we’ve given them a pretty clear message that we don’t want them to have a meaningful role in the process. In this book, we’ll walk through a more effective strategy for doing public engagement that gives both citizens and governments a better and more meaningful experience. We’ll conclude with some tactics for managing unproductive behavior when you find yourself stuck with some of our typical public situations.
- The Local Economy Revolution: What’s Changed and How You Can Help is designed to give you an enjoyable but thoughtful read that helps you build a deep understanding of what’s going on today — and reinforce your courage and determination in doing what your community needs. You can learn more about it, and find links to read samples and order it, here.
- Why This Work Matters: Wisdom from the People Who are Making Communities Better shares reflections from 11 in-the-trenches community professionals who do the tough work of making communities better — in small towns and federal agencies, in governments, nonprofits and consulting, and in everything from urban planning to economic development to answering the phones in the city manager’s office. The stories they tell are beautiful, poignant, funny and heart-wrenching, but mostly they are encouraging — telling how these professionals keep finding the courage to overcome frustrations and keep doing the important work they do. You can learn more about it, and find links to read samples and order it, here.
Get all the Wise Fool Press publications in print here, for your Kindle Reader here, and for other e-readers right here!
But that’s just the start. We’ll give you a sneak peak at our upcoming publications below. But first,
What’s with the penguin?
You know, to be accurate, it’s a Fat Penguin Floating Majestically Over Toledo.
This little gem, drawn by illustrator Barry Gott, appeared on his sketchblog a few years ago and showed up in an early edition of the Wise Fool newsletter. And I can’t think of a better symbol:
The Impossible becomes Possible. It’s not necessarily graceful, and it might look downright goofy, but the Impossible becomes Possible.
And as the Wise Fool name implies, a little awareness of our own silliness probably isn’t a bad thing either.
You can check out Barry’s commercial illustration at barrygott.com, and his line of charming city drawings at smalltower.etsy.com
So, about that upcoming stuff:
Here’s a few snippets about some works in the works. Do note that the titles are working titles and subject to change.
Meaningful Public Engagement. This book is an exploration of changes in how public engagement (you might call it public participation or public feedback or something like that) can and should be done in communities today — accompanied by a toolkit of easy, hands-on activities that can make your in-person and online participation more meaningful to you project, your organization, and your residents. First draft is in process!
Won’t Get Fooled Again: Protecting your community from economic studies. I’m working on this in partnership with Peter Mallow, my development guru/ analytical wizard friend who has written a series for the Wise Economy Blog and co-prepared the Won’t Get Fooled Again presentation. We’ll help you understand what’s going on – and more importantly, help you uncover the hidden assumptions and ask the make-em-squirm questions that you and your community need answered before you put your funds and land and futures at risk. We’re working on it.
Tactical Economies. This work will examine how the principles of tactical urbanism – quick, temporary improvements designed to show a place’s potential — might be translated to economic development and economic revitalization. This one is in the research stage right now, so if you have examples of tactical economic improvements at work, send me a note at email@example.com.
The Preservation-Driven Economy. This book will attempt to unravel how exactly preserving and reusing older buildings and places help make local economies stronger and more resilient. A lot of the challenge here will be in making the things that the preservation and downtown revitalization worlds have learned over the past few decades more accessible and comprehensible to the general public. Right now, this one is in the conceptual stage, but I’d expect it to move forward pretty quickly.
Building a Business Ecosystem. The Local Economy Revolution started to unpack the idea that local economies need to be managed like a forest, not like a machine, and this book will start taking that idea from the abstract to the real world. One of the keys will be sharing good models of how we can re-connect, reinforce and grow these ecosystems, so again, if you know of great examples, shoot me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org
Why It Matters. This collection of essays from community professionals and leaders across the country will help you answer that question — especially when the politics, the bureaucracies, the resistance to change and the huge barriers that seem to face you make you wonder why you should keep trying. Right now there is one collection, but if the response is like what I think it might be, we may end up with a series.
Lessons from the Rust Belt’s Children. This book is also envisioned as a collection of essays — sharing the perspective of community leaders and professionals who live and work in the Rust Belt about how that experience has changed the way that they think about communities — and the way that influences their work to make their places better. This one’s just in the beginning stages, but I think it’ll be awesome.
Obviously that’s a lot on the plate, and this is a bootstrapped operation with big ambitions and limited resources. But I don’t think that means we shouldn’t try.
If you’re interested in helping, either by helping us fund some help, or by becoming a contributor, send me a note. In the meantime… keep floating majestically over your town! Or, well, something like that.