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GOOD 100: Meet Josh McManus, Transforming Cities One Little Idea at a Time

Josh McManus was eleven when his grandfather wrote to him: “Sometimes the little things you do in life turn out to be the really big things."

Josh McManus was eleven when his grandfather wrote to him: “Sometimes the little things you do in life turn out to be the really big things." Thus, the inspiration behind McManus' creative think tank, Little Things Laboratories. But the work at LTL is anything but small. McManus and his team link up with nonprofits, corporations, and foundations to tackle pressing problems and growing opportunities facing post-industrial American cities. For inspiration he draws from the labs of some of the greats - Edison, Eames, Bell, and Wright - creating a habitat for great ideas by first recognizing problems and then dissecting them.


McManus pulls double duty as both Curator and Lead Inventor at Little Things Laboratories, channeling his interest in both design and theory in working towards economic progress. Doing so allows him to work with local businesses and organizations across the country to maximize their impact and proliferate change.

LTL is in the process of opening its official studio and storefront in Detroit, Michigan. With an expanding team and growing scope of work, McManus says LTL has more potential than ever.

“We'll continue to be heavily engaged in imagining and putting in place a new post-industrial city economic system, which will also unroll here in Detroit next year,” McManus says. “There continue to be other cities modeling our work and, as we give away most of our intellectual property, we're excited to see our partners in other cities open new storefronts, expand their problem-solving capabilities, and share in learning with us as we develop these processes.”

As LTL continues to develop ambitious projects in Detroit and other post-industrial cities, McManus is excited to have the opportunity to pair talented individuals with entities and resources who have the drive to make these projects happen.

Furthermore, in light of the recent school shooting tragedy at Newtown, LTL has been working steadily on empathy education, and expects to see new models tested in public schools across the country this year.

Follow McManus and the Little Things Lab here.

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