Thursday, February 26, 2009

Naked Cleveburgh

Is the frustration with the lack of leadership in Cleveland about to boil over? Ed Morrison, as usual, pulls no punches:

I just spent the afternoon with Holly Harlan. It’s amazing how little funding the foundations provide to E4S. Here’s a national model of open innovation sitting under their noses, and they can’t even see it. Instead, they waste money hiring consultants to tell them what a sustainable economy supposed to look like.

Social media is changing the policy landscape. Now, more than ever, transparency is paramount (hat tip GLUE). Is the brain drain in Northeast Ohio really that bad? Let's get those numbers out in the open and have a debate about what to do next.

Both the Tech Belt initiative and Imagine Greater Pittsburgh talk about a grassroots campaign. At least as far as the IGP is concerned, Mike Madison is skeptical:

That's a lot of money to spend on what a cynic might dismiss as an effort by Pittsburgh's usual political and cultural elites (the ACCD and the Institute of Politics in particular) to identify and mobilize the social capital associated with the region's past, present, and future. To give that capital a name and make it easier to find, let's make up a name. Say, "Steeler Nation." Does it exist? Can it be identified? Mobilized? Most important, marketed? Let's spend $2 mm to find out!

That's the cynic's view. Despite the expense and the "usual suspects" character of the initiative, I'm going to be guardedly optimistic here. When I posted before about "the vision thing," I wrote, "Is Pittsburgh's traditional leadership elite ready to open source regional renewal?" What I meant was that Pittsburgh's economic and cultural momentum needs to build on grass roots resources, coming from both inside and outside the region. Out the door goes the idea that the Allegheny Conference knows what's best for Pittsburgh and all of us should get in line. Out the door goes the idea that "visioning" means marketing. "Visioning" means "building," not marketing.

Concerning the Tech Belt, I suspect that addressing the City Club in Cleveland isn't the kind of "open source regional renewal" that either Madison or Morrison has in mind. The Cleveburgh social media community should be driving the development of the economic corridor, not the usual suspects. Time for the bloggers to grab the bull by the horns.

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