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Cross-sector leadership in Seattle

Thanks to Peter’s gently prodding, I offer an LCG blog post – a response to viewing a spectacular public arts project on Saturday in Seattle. Perhaps you’ve seen it – the Seattle Art Museum’s Sculpture Park, situated on the waterfront on a former Superfund site. The Olympic Mountains across the sound provide the backdrop to mainly abstract constructions (think Walker Sculpture Garden) arrayed in a park that zigzags across working railroad tracks. What I’d like to know more about is the cross-sector partnership that put together this very complicated project.

I heard about the project at this weekend’s NASPAA conference. (The initials are for National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration.) According to a conference speaker, many levels of government, Gates Foundation, business people, the art museum, and no doubt the railroad were all involved over many years. My experience tells me that many people provided leadership and that the project had many stalls and revivals. It’s the kind of case I intend to keep probing so that my colleagues and I can help others better understand how to create and sustain the coalitions needed to achieve visible progress on complex public problems.

Barbara