All the creativity needed to make Fort Dodge and Webster City more enticing can be found within the residents of those two communities, according to a man who's studied the creative process.
Robert Bluestone is a classical guitarist, but on Monday he urged Fort Dodge audiences to forget the idea that a person must be some type of artist in order to be creative. Everyone, he said, has a spark of creativity.
''As long as you are alive, than you have the opportunity to be creative,'' he told those gathered in the Bioscience and Health Sciences Building at Iowa Central Community College for presentations marking the two communities' status as an Iowa Great Place.
Bluestone, of Santa Fe, N.M., described the arts as a kind of fitness tool for toning up an individual's creative drive.
''The arts are pushups for the imagination,'' he said.
Part of his job, Bluestone said, is to expand the definition of creativity, which he called the ''currency of the 21st century.''
During a pair of one-hour presentations at the college, Bluestone emphasized the need to harness creativity to make the region more prosperous. He did not offer any specific suggestions for the two communities.
''It's presumptuous for me to say I know what's best for Fort Dodge,'' he said before his first presentation. ''Fort Dodge knows what's best for Fort Dodge.''
Bluestone's visit was made possible by Arts Midwest and the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. Those entities hired him to work with six communities named Iowa Great Places for a two-year period in a project called Iowa 2020.
The Iowa Great Places program combines local and state resources to enhance distinctive communities in the state. In August, Fort Dodge and Webster City were designated an Iowa Great Place thanks to an initiative that emphasizes the Des Moines and Boone rivers.
Local projects to be completed with the help of money from the Iowa Great Places program include riverfront trails in Fort Dodge, an expansion of the Gypsum City Off-Highway Vehicle Park south of Fort Dodge, a downtown Fort Dodge plaza, an outdoor convention center at Briggs Woods Park in Hamilton County and a regional environmental learning center at Brushy Creek State Recreation Area in Webster County.
Before his presentations, Bluestone and Francis Boggus, the director of the Iowa Great Places program, toured the area.
''I see a city with a lot of potential, a lot of room for growth,'' Bluestone said.
He said both communities must be creative in order to become places where today's children will want to be 10 years from now. A process of change must take place, he said, adding that it will allow the communities to ''let go of the stuff that didn't work.''
''There's joy in this,'' Bluestone said.
He will return to Fort Dodge next year and spend about half of a week in the city.
Contact Bill Shea at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org