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Park chat 

Mayor Kilpatrick, with your busy schedule, we doubt you’ll have a chance anytime soon to kick back and read the recently published The World’s Greatest Ideas: An Encyclopedia of Social Inventions (New Society Publishers, 304 pp., $18.95 soft cover). Always anxious to help, we’ve handled a lot of the kicking-back part and a little of the reading part and can now pass along sage advice by way of Norway. It seems that every Wednesday at noon, since 1993, the mayor of Ringerike, northwest of Oslo, sits for a spell on a park bench and chats with whoever gets in line to see him. We expect you’ll have Meet the Mayor-type engagements in auditoriums, maybe you’ll do regular radio call-ins, but a simple one-on-one park chat has its appeal, doesn’t it? And it’d help you assess the parks firsthand — before the next report from City Auditor Joe Harris.

What’s in the rest of the book, you ask? Put together by the Institute for Social Inventions in London, (with hallelujahs from Utne Reader’s Jay Walljasper, rock producer Brian Eno and author Kilpatrick Sale), it’s a compendium of suggestions for various realms of society and individual life, from novel negotiating tactics (when you can’t agree on a price, donate the difference to charity) to better schools (make the parents next sit to their kids who act up) to better health care (poetry discussion circles for doctors) to parenting (teach all babies sign language) to city life (unearth long-buried urban streams). And in light of recent events, News Hits gets a chuckle out of the proposal that politicians be made to wear the corporate logos of their contributors. Who wouldn’t love to see all the Enron logos on the Bush II crowd these days?

Managing editor W. Kim Heron contributed to this week’s News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at or

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