I want to note that if the organizers were going after the key demographic of bald, 60ish white men with reading glasses perched on the ends of their noses, they succeeded splendidly. One topic that came up more than a few times was the brain drain of the American heartland’s “talented” (ie, college-educated) young adults to coastal metro areas. So it seemed fitting that the people on the panels, asking questions from the crowd, and speaking were all boomers and older. I was one of probably five people under the age of 30 in the room, and two of us were journalists. Which (to me) is really disappointing. If an event like this was happening in Manhattan or San Francisco (and I’ve been to them), more young adults would have been there. And it’s not as if Chicago doesn’t have a couple hundred-thousand Gen Yers, some of whom are interested in these issues.
I'm glad I didn't go. I would have walked out when all the brain drain nonsense started. But I can understand the above blogger's disappointment in the demographics of the conference. I would expect Dick Longworth and John Austin to be open to this criticism. They could help find funding for GLUE to convene young, Rust Belt adults for a discussion about globalization.
I doubt the issues stemming from economic globalization will magically bridge the divide between generations. But the new stewards of shrinking cities, not just the old guard of the days that used to be, need to have these conversations. If the Midwest is going to come together in order to compete globally, then the young adults will need to figure out a way to get around those currently wielding most of the power.