Monday, March 23, 2015

Can You Handle the Excitement?

I keep coming back to this: Excite Columbia, CA's Citizen's Academy. Thanks to my newly-installed Google search-bot-thingy, I was able to instantly find what I have said in the past. In 2013,

I'm still curious. Imagining this as a party, who will come? What will motivate them? How will CA reach out to the target audience, who are often disengaged from CA and community issues? Will the presentation of information be dynamic and appealing? And what will completing the program give them that they didn't have before? Will they see that and know how to use it?

And again in 2014,

More than anything else, my biggest question is, how do we present something like Excite Columbia so that it reaches new residents and young people?...How do we take that idea and make it "exciting" for children, young adults, and new residents?

Here we are in 2015. CA is about to start a new session of Excite Columbia. I think it is a great concept. But as I look at the pictures that accompany the descriptions at the CA website, something is missing. When I read the words "Excite Columbia", I want to see pictures like this. And this. And this.

The future of The New American City truly depends on young people knowing and caring about what Columbia stands for. That's why I really got excited when I learned of a fascinating collaboration between GT Teacher Michael Hobson (Oakland Mills Middle) and Michael McCall (Inner Arbor Trust).

@ommsgt: #MinecraftEDU students building new #SymphonyWoods design – here's a test build of the new "Caterpillar" feature.

@ommsgt: #OMMS students use #MinecraftEDU to test "Picnic Table" float & underlit features in new #SymphonyWoods design.

@ommsgt: #OMMS Connor, Nathan, Jonathan, Ian test-build boardwalk, "Wondrous Tower" for #SymphonyWoods design in #MinecraftEDU.

I encourage you to do a Twitter search for yourself so you can see the accompanying photographs.

Here we see information sharing, collaboration, creation, and discussion--all centered around a Columbia-focused project. Specifically designed for middle school students. Compared to how CA usually interacts with the public, this is almost revolutionary.

I love it. Which is not to say I "hate" Excite Columbia. Not at all. I think a lot of hard work goes into making that happen, and I think the intentions are good. But, if there were an award for exciting Columbians about Columbia, I'd give it to this Minecraft Symphony Woods project. If we want young people to feel invested in the future of Columbia, let's give them a hand and a voice in building it.

So maybe we need to look at this as lots of small start-ups and collaborations throughout Columbia, rather than something we expect the institution of CA to accomplish. We can grow our own mini-Excites throughout the villages to spread the excitement (sorry) for the next fifty years.

Any proposals?




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