Thursday, October 09, 2008

Thinkers and Drinkers Diaspora

Fellow Rust Belt Blogger Mark Rauterkus asks, "What's going on at PodCamp Pgh for the Sunday afternoon session?"

My inclination is to let come what may, but I'd like to see some action items result from our gathering in Pittsburgh the weekend after next. My hope is that Rust Belt Bloggers will be instrumental in building a regional or mega-regional identity that facilitates greater economic development. In this sense, I share Richard Longworth's vision for the Midwest:

"The age of agriculture and manufacturing made us a great. The age of globalization has left us behind," said Robert Holden, a former Missouri governor who now teaches at Webster University. "We must become a region. We must think and act as a region."

The initiative, unveiled Monday at a forum spearheaded by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, sprung from research by the council and particularly Richard Longworth, a council fellow and former Tribune correspondent who recently published a book about the Midwest and globalization entitled "Caught in the Middle."

At the forum, Longworth said he was "amazed" during travels around the region at how balkanized it seemed, with "an almost mindless competitiveness" between states, businesses and universities at a time when Europe and other regions of the world are banding together to seek force in numbers.

"This orneriness is a luxury we can no longer afford," said Longworth, an Iowa native. "Economically, we've got border wars going on."

Putting a stop to the "border wars" will be difficult. The turf in the Postindustrial Heartland is well marked. However, I think bloggers are ideally suited to cross these boundaries of political economy.

Thinkers and Drinkers is a model we might emulate. My plan is to give this community building salon a try in Pittsburgh on Saturday night, before watching the Kelly Pavlik fight on the tele. Watching Phil Kidd and Janko talk about their innovative approach to economic development, I appreciated the mash up of social media and face-to-face interaction. I dream of a ubiquitous Thinkers and Drinkers linking people across the globe much in the same way that Polish Happy Hour is moving into Youngstown.


Mark Rauterkus said...

Thanks for picking up this conversation. Perhaps a link at the Rustbelt site to this might help aid the discussion.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Here is the deal, from my perspective.

#1. What is a 'region?' How does a 'region act?'

#2. Isn't competition a good thing? I don't mind it.

#3. Isn't diversity and associated choices a good thing too? We had Wilkinsburg that was a booming area and then got lots of corruption. Next to it was Edgewood, different, without corruption. They fight for idenity and authentic environs. Now, if this is racist -- bad. But, if it is clearly different approaches and different outcomes -- then great.

If we were all in one pot -- we'd all be corrupt.

A pinch of poison in a well makes it all dirty. But, if in different vessles -- we can keep it isolated and still be refreshed.

Furthermore, as the the age of agriculture and manufacturing -- I'd say what made us great was really 'freedom' and 'liberties.'

The global times might signal fewer freedoms and fewer opportunities. Hence, getting left behind in prosperity.

I think we should think and become free people -- again -- and even better -- modern free people.

"Caught in the Middle" isn't bad -- but caught without liberties is VERY BAD. As in go to jail, detention, whatever.

Sure, none want a mindless anything -- even competitiveness.

I sorta get scared as others are banding together to seek force in numbers. See that "FORCE." Force by the MASSES is ugly stuff -- Nazi -- there I said it.

They might say liberties are a luxury we can no longer afford. Hell, they say it daily.

Let's also unravel the term 'border wars' too.

For sure, bloggers are best suited to build bridges.