Thursday, April 23, 2009

Another experiment: Calgary’s Random Marching Band — no experience required

[photo by tanakawho]
Photo by tanakawho.
After reading a tweet from Calgary Arts Development about an “Improv marching band” being organized in San Francisco, I figured this would be a super-fun thing to do in Calgary. So, in the near-instantaneous response time that the internet has given us, Calgary’s Random Marching Band was born. (Please sign-up on the Facebook event, and come out on May 17 to participate. No musical talent, whatsoever, is required.)

It really is fantastic how easily events, actions and other projects can come together. Last week’s CBC Rally in Calgary was mostly organized in under an hour on Twitter (we ended up having just one organizing meeting over drinks — mine was orange juice — the evening before, to finalize details).

This reduction in the distance between ideas and actions means we can experiment a lot more. At CivicCamp, during discussions, it struck me that one of the key things we can do to make things better in our communities, our city and the world in general is to foster a culture of experimentation (so I jotted that down on the big sticky pictured here).

When we are willing to try things out, to step outside the status quo, we can figure out better ways to do things. But, we have to embrace failure as a necessary part of the process.

The modern fear of failure (ingrained in children through punishments for “failing” in school, among many other influences) is incredibly destructive. People — especially governments — would rather continue on self-destructive paths than risk any experiment that might fail. In essence, we have largely given up our willingness to learn.

Risk, failure, change — these are all things we have to embrace if we are going to learn anything and if we are going to get to the proverbial “better place”. Any real success is usually an outcome of a long string of failures (e.g., evolution).

I imagine the response to the Memorial Drive promenade proposal would have been radically different if this was a city of innovators that celebrated experimentation and welcomed failure as part of the path to success — instead of the fear-driven, change-averse, culture that dominates.

I hope we can change this.

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