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.