Create WV

My local daily is a pretty dreadful excuse for a newspaper, but as the offspring of ink-stained wretches I am still compelled to read it – or at least skim it – every day. When I first moved to WV Dr. Wizard and I took to calling it the “Jumpsuit Journal,” as the paper’s front page invariably featured a mug shot – in standard WV prison orange – of some local miscreant or n’er-do-well.

But occasionally I find something interesting, and ever more rarely genuinely noteworthy….such as a provocative op-ed by someone named Rebecca Kimmons, lamenting the defeatist attitude in her home state:

We’re defensive if an outsider makes a disparaging remark. But often, if no one has anything bad to say right off, we volunteer, trotting out hillbilly clichés of who we are, what we do and how we do it. The question a recent transplant from Seattle says she is most often asked is, “When are you leaving?” Bright young people who have returned to the state say they are accustomed to being asked, “Why did you come back?”

For some of us, we’re entrenched in our cultural habits. And all that seems just fine until we ask for something different. “Why can’t we …?” is often met with
“Folks around here wouldn’t go for that,” or “That will never happen here.”
Maybe our greatest obstacle to creating a general aura of success is our own mindset. Why doesn’t our air breed confidence like the air of California?

Why do our people think they have to leave to achieve?

Turns out the Kimmons is part of an effort called “Create WV” – a Richard Florida-inspired effort to jump-start a “creative class” in the Mountain State:

If you’re not satisfied with the status quo in West Virginia, if you’re impatient and want smarter services and amenities, design aesthetics that enhance our truly spectacular landscape rather than diminishing it; if you want cutting edge educational programs that prepare our people for contemporary realities, if you want a future that becomes a history of something besides disaster, loss, duplicity, and despair, you need to be at the table for the first Create West Virginia Conference, Nov. 12-14, at the Stonewall Resort, near Weston.

Gotta hand to them…the Create WV site, though not yet “sticky,” has compiled a lot of resources and shows a lot of promise. I especially like the Community Map they’re building – a nice Web 2.0 application to build a statewide map of art galleries, restaurants, museums, etc. Needs a lot more user input, but hey, I’ve done my part: I signed up to join. But I can’t seem to find a category (or demand, for that matter) for “Smartaleck Cultural Knowitall Bloviators.

The Create WV folks have a blog, too, which I’ve added to the blogroll. This entry pretty much sums up what I’ve found to be my WV experience:

The truth is, much of what we have in West Virginia, the rest of the world is longing for. If we could just add a few more wi-fi hotspots, some innovative education reform, growth-friendly tax structure and decent coffee shops, we may be on the cusp of something great.

I’ll be following their progress with a lot of interest.

P.S. If you haven’t heard of Richard Florida or some of the social implications of the “Creative Class,” check out this hilarious interview on the Colbert Report.

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