An updated inquiry: Learning from and with innovative cities

Thanks to feedback from some wonderful people, I’ve updated the question shared in a previous post. I expect many more iterations to occur!

The summary of the final submission for a Churchill fellowship, and trajectory for my professional work is below.

Thankyou to Andrea Selvey, Will Varey, Ann Larson, Scott Ludlam and the Pollinators members and community for their invaluable contributions. Without their support I wouldn’t even be in the position to do this, and the inquiry would be being made with a different (and less coherent and contributive) appreciation, ethos, orientation and understanding.


This inquiry seizes on the opportunity to blend local observations with international experience for the benefit of other cities and regions in similar situations. If we can learn in Geraldton, for our own and others experience, then perhaps humanity will be the ultimate beneficiary.



Learning from and with cities: what, how and who sustains local innovations?



Often social innovation in cities begin with a burst of investment (often from government), enthusiasm and deliver immediate outcomes. But what happens next? This project includes visits cities where significant innovations attracted global attention, to see if, how and who has carried on with the innovation. Each city chosen has achieved some fame for its approach to sustainability or social innovation, and what they’ve done is similar to Geraldton e.g. deliberative democracy. The benefit of the travel and study will include: Lessons for Geraldton to how to sustain innovation, including the roles NGOs and organisations like Pollinators, and sharing those lessons with other Australian cities.


Social innovations and communities to learn with/from in 2015-16 travel (if successful):

  • Sustainable cities e.g. Transition Towns, The Natural Step, One Planet Communities
  • Entrepreneurial cities (hubs, accelerators) e.g. Aarhus, London, Boulder, Hong Kong
  • Smarter cities e.g. IBM in Boulder, Suffolk County
  • Integral cities e.g. Abbotsford
  • Deliberative cities e.g. Bruges

Inquiries to be made with these communities, when traveling:

  • Factors that enabled the cities to innovate, and sustain the innovation,
  • The roles of NGOs, networks, hubs or social enterprises in sustaining the changes,
  • Identifying lessons relevant to Australian cities and NGOs, institutions,
  • Create foundations for ongoing relationships with the cities visited or relevant networks.

Scope for inquiries in 2015:

  • Doing and learning in Geraldton from this new frame of reference,
  • Inquiring into these questions with other communities in WA and Australia,
  • Sharing learning along the way through blogs, podcasts and presentations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *