Uncle Dave Wants Us to Be Creative

NYTimes opinion writer David Brooks in today’s column advises Americans at large to think about creativity vs competitiveness in our economic life—and wonders out loud if the standard call to compete at all costs may not be the most productive course of action. Read his thoughts here, and get the NYT if you want more. 

His analysis could apply to what happened collectively in Lowell in the 1970s. Residents, spurred on by persuasive leaders backed up by activists on the ground, moved towards a new paradigm for community development. Rather than spending all their efforts and energy on luring new employers to set up shop in the city, Lowellians began to reframe the value of the city’s intrinsic worth as an important American place whose architecture and heritage were special. This was done so effectively that Lowell became a model for preservation-driven revitalization among smaller cities. In effect, Lowell created its own niche in the way Brooks praises. Lowell people dared to be different, and it has pretty much worked for 30-plus years as a distinguishing asset.

One Response to Uncle Dave Wants Us to Be Creative

  1. Greg Page says:

    Re: Your point about cultivating talent in an area, rather than trying to become a hub that then attracts/draws talent in from outside:

    Desh Deshpande talks about this a lot, and the MV Sandbox is built around this principle. The great thing about it is that it’s a way more sustainable model…Maybe I’ve got baseball on the brain, but it’s the equivalent of building a great farm system and loyalty to the franchise rather than just relying on some big-ticket free agents that might bolt as soon as their contracts are up, so to speak.

    As Desh says, the talent is ALREADY there, it’s just an issue of putting together the right opportunity/resource mix to bring it out and let it flourish.