Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Brainstorming for the G-20 in Pittsburgh

The local organization leading the organization for the G-20 in Pittsburgh this September is a group called the Allegheny Conference. They decided to have a series of brainstorming sessions and invite the public to them, to generate ideas for further discussion.

On paper, this is a great idea. And, to a degree, it was. There were some incredibly good ideas proposed, including:

  • Student ambassadors to observe and report on the proceedings (this from a high school student)

  • Welcome banners and audio greetings in all of the languages spoken by members of the G-20

  • A whole month of activities around the countries of the G-20, focusing on each of the countries and stressing educational programs

  • Various ways to present the arts and music of Pittsburgh

  • Stressing Pittsburgh's leadership as a green city

  • Name badges for Pittsburghers with the flags representing the country of whatever foreign language the person speaks

  • An event featuring foods prepared by foreign-born chefs who cook at Pittsburgh-area restaurants

But, an awful lot of the ideas started off with, "Hi, I'm X my company is Y, we make Z and here's how we can offer Z to the people coming to Pittsburgh for the G-20."

As a result, there was very little actual brainstorming. Almost no one's ideas seemed to spark other people's ideas, and that was somewhat disappointing. During the first brainstorming session at Point Park last week, 57 ideas were generated. At ours, I'm sure it was less than that because it was more about selling than idea generation.

I came up with some ideas, and presented them this way: "Hi, I'm Laurie Mann, I'm a blogger and I have nothing to sell. I just have a couple of ideas." My suggestions were to make sure that the G-20 uses the lovely rooftop terrace at the Convention Center. I'd been going to events there for years before I stumbled over the terrace at one event, which was being used informally that day. It has a great view of the city, the Allegheny River and the bridges. It's basically an unappreciated gem of the city. My other suggestion was to use some of the empty storefronts along Penn and Liberty as art galleries for students, robot makers and filmmakers.

There will be one last public brainstorming at the University of Pittsburgh, Alumni Hall in the Connolly Ballroom from 5:30-7:00 tonight (Tuesday, June 23).

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