I want to propose an experiment, kinda like the Summer of Love, but in the winter. Call it my Christmas Contrivance.
For one week (or one day, or the 12 Days of Christmas, or whatever period you like), pretend that you can't vote to close questions — you don't have the reputation required, there's no such mechanism on the site, whatever. Also, pretend that while you can downvote questions, the penalty is so steep that you'd only do it as a last resort — say, a 50- or 100-point deduction from your own reputation. All other parts of the site work as they actually do: you can edit, comment, upvote, downvote answers, and flag same as you can in reality. (Oh, and I should add: deleting is available for spam, but is otherwise off the table same as closing.)
Now, go forth and improve the site. Work your way through the review queues, or just randomly swoop down on questions and improve away, but no closing, and only very rare downvoting of questions.
Think it'll work? More to the point, think you can do it?