But even this cooperation goes on in silos. Community colleges from around the Midwest have met here at the Chicago Council. Farm extension directors from the land grant colleges are meeting and thinking. The Midwest Governors Association, a notoriously drowsy outfit, has stirred itself recently to strike deals on the energy economy and high-speed rail. But nobody is putting this all together in ways that could generate an economic revival that will recharge the region.For starters, we need to talk to each other. Midwestern newspapers, under huge economic pressures of their own, have become too small and too local to do this job. In their places, bloggers are seizing the new technology to set up virtual roundtables. There are rust belt blogs and rural blogs and urban blogs -- all manner of blogs, many of them listed on this site. I hope that they will see this addition to their ranks as a place where all these issues can be hashed out.
I've had a change of heart about the lack of communication. Parochial barriers still exist, but there are conversations crossing borders. At the grassroots level, bloggers are well aware of each other. The prolific ideation doesn't affect much change. There is a disconnect between the concerns raised in blogs and the articulation of economic policy. The intersection of vanguard and establishment is a rare occurrence.
In essence, there are two parallel initiatives dealing with the forces of globalization in the Midwest. How do we mashup? Perhaps that is what Longworth hopes to accomplish with his blog. I see an opportunity for the social media community to enter into the policy discussion. Bloggers are a frustrated lot. We need to re-imagine the civic sphere, which is a much tougher task than breaking down the silos.