How We Do It

binocularsThe Wise Economy Workshop’s priorities require us to squint into the future, while keeping a solid footing in the present. We know that where our communities, our technology and our economy is going isn’t always clear, and we know that our communities face issues that we have to address right now.  We don’t think that past approaches and the usual assumptions are always wrong, but we’ve seen them turn out wrong enough times to push us to question them.  And we are continually pioneering new ways to address old issues using new thinking, new technology and new opportunities.


When we work on building the future of a local economy, we pay close attention to a few key issues that many economic development people overlook: Crocus in snow

  • How can we best grow a unique and valuable local economy? What sets its existing and potential entrepreneurs and its existing small businesses apart – and what do they need to truly come into their own?


  • How can we create an ecosystem of local businesses, not just a collection of fragile separate parts?  How can we help them become flexible, responsive, powerful and equipped for success?


  • How do we build the long-term capacity and health of the small business and startup community?  How can we make sure that we have a strong local economy not just for today, but for decades to come?


Answering these questions requires understanding how a local economy works in a world that increasingly looks nothing like what we’ve assumed.  We learn, think, communicate and buy in ways that completely new, and the communities that ride this wave of change will be the ones that find long-term economic success.

We help you see this emerging future, we help you find the right answers, and we draw from a broad suite of tools to enable and empower your community to grow a rock-solid local economy.

Diagram of public engagement process


When we work on meaningful public engagement and meaningful decision-making, we bring a suite of methods and processes that no one else advising or facilitating communities brings to the table – and we draw on decades of experience in using them.  We create 

  • Public meetings that are constructive, not divisive
  • Public events that people want to attend 
  • Online public engagement that gives residents a rich and constructive experience (and you as well),
  • Public engagement that not only makes your residents happy, but gives you information that you can actually use to make better, wiser, and more broadly-supported decisions.


Regardless of what kind of work we’re doing, we place top emphasis on the following principles: 

  • No snake oil.  The issues we have to deal with are complex, messy, and challenging.  We’re not going to ever tell you that we have some magic foolproof answer.  But we will partner with you to find the right ones.


  • Beware the Big Solution.  We think that a changing society and a changing economy means that you have to assume that the world will change. And just like you, we don’t want to look back in 20 years and realize that we told you to spend money on a white elephant.  Instead, we help you figure out ways to test new ideas, try them out on a small scale, and then scale them for a big impact.  Cheaper, safer, and wiser.


  • Arrogance Stinks. Listen Hard, and Partner.  The Wise Economy Workshop is a workshop for a reason – we’re making these communities better, together.  You know your community, you know its history, you know its challenges and sore spots and hidden gems.  Sometimes you might forget some of those in the face of all the issues facing you.  A big part of our job is what we think of as Community Coaching —  asking you the right questions, listening intently to what you say and don’t say, building a deep understanding of what your community is about, and helping you find the ways to make it better.  We don’t do the Stuffed Shirt, we don’t do the Finger Shaking Lecture, we don’t do the Of Course This Is What You Have To Do Because I Am The Expert.  We think that those Experts have gotten our communities into a lot of trouble in the past. We put our expertise at your service, to help you build the right solutions for you.

We designed the Wise Economy Workshop this way because we think it’s the right way, and as the world changes, we think it’s becoming the necessary way.  

We’re here to help build the Future of Great Communities, and we’d like to help build yours.