Thursday, November 17, 2005

Bill Strickland at AIGA 2005

For years, Bill Strickland, Manchester Craftsmen's Guild and Bidwell Training Center, has been shaping young minds and redefining social change.

This past September, Bill presented at the AIGA in Boston on "The Design of Leadership", and offered this message:

    Give people the tools they need, treat them with respect and they will perform miraculous deeds.

From a sleeping bag on the second floor of a dilapidated building, Strickland built one of the most extraordinary organizations in America, employing and training thousands and bringing positive change and entrepreneurship to Pittsburgh's city center. Strickland restores our faith in ethical, accountable and visionary leadership.

Jason Kottke was present, and offered this:

    Bill Strickland blew the doors off the conference with his account of the work he's doing in "curing cancer" -- his term for revitalizing violent and crime-ridden neighborhoods -- in Pittsburgh. I can't do justice to his talk, so two short anecdotes. Strickland said he realized that "poor people never have a nice day" so when he built his buildings in these poor black neighbohoods, he put nice fountains out front so that people coming into the building know that they're entering a space where it's possible to have a good day. Another time, a bigwig of some sort was visiting the center and asked Strickland about the flowers he saw everywhere. Flowers in the hood? How'd these get here? Strickland told him "you don't need a task force or study group to buy flowers" and that he'd just got in his car, bought some flowers, brought them back, and set them around the place. His point in all this was creating a place where people feel less dissimilar to each, white, rich, poor, everybody has a right to flowers and an education and to be treated with respect and to have a nice day. You start treating people like that, and surprise!, they thrive. Strickland's inner city programs have produced Fulbright Scholars, Pulitzer Prize winners, and tons of college graduates.

Here are some links to Bill's presentation:

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