Harbinger Consultants

Culture + Complexity + Change

WORDS | Cultural Creatives

by Linda Carroli

It’s quieter than usual this week, so it is time for reading and writing about some of the ideas and issues that inform Harbinger’s work and approaches. One of the phenomena that interests us is the emerging (now established) ‘cultural creatives’ – living examples of changing making around the globe. In Paul H Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson’s Cultural Creatives: How 50 million people are changing the world, the lives of cultural creatives are examined. As activists, contributors and volunteers, “innovation by innovation, they are shaping a new kind of American [Western] culture for the 21st century”. This ethic of contribution and volunteerism is founded in the everyday lifestyle choices we make as individuals, families and neighbourhoods.

For those with enterprise and urban development in mind, this growing group, which is focused on value and values, will have a major impact on the consumption of housing, land and other products as well as the formation of the civic realm in towns, cities and suburbs. They do so not out of fear of imminent ecological ruin but out of a sense of something bigger or more important. Some people, for example, are already making choices about sustainable housing, design and energy use.

Anderson and Ray developed a checklist of what makes a cultural creative. You are likely to be a cultural creative if you agree with 10 or more of the following statements:

  • I love nature, am concerned about its destruction
  • I am strongly aware of the problems of the whole planet and want to see more action on them
  • I would pay more taxes or pay more for consumer goods if I knew the money would go to clean up the environment and to stop global warming
  • I give a lot of importance to my relationships
  • I give a lot of importance to helping other people
  • I volunteer for one or more good causes
  • I care intensely about both psychological and spiritual development
  • I see spirituality or religion as important in my life
  • I want more equality for women at work, more women leaders in business and politics
  • I am concerned about violence and the abuse of women and children
  • I want government spending to put more emphasis on children’s education and wellbeing, on rebuilding communities, and on creating an ecologically sustainable future
  • I am unhappy with both the left and the right in politics and want to find a new way that is not the mushy middle
  • I tend to be optimistic about the future and distrust the cynical and pessimistic view of the media
  • I want to be involved in creating a new and better way of life
  • I am concerned about what the big corporations are doing in the name of making more profits
  • I have my finances and spending under control
  • I dislike all the emphasis in modern culture on success and “making it”, on getting and spending, on wealth and luxury goods
  • I like people and places that are exotic and foreign.

Just as an aside, I recently joined Facebook, a social networking site that is giving me a great deal of pleasure and connectivity. After adding an application called ‘I am Green’ to my profile, I’ve established my greenness and can let my friends know how green I am. These decisions are becoming more important to people, occupying our thoughts, flowing through our conversations and meshing with our indentities. There’s probably scope for a cultural creative application on Facebook too.


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