Saturday, April 18, 2015

Defining a city with a Creative Village within it generates economic development opportunities

photo by Michael Pelzer, Uneek Luxury Tours
By Michael J Morris
Laura Guitar says there may be 1,000 factors that define a city, that create that sense of place and the identity that others recognize, desire and support, adding but, first, we have to create that place for ourselves.
Guitar was writing on a blog in 2010 in support of  a Creative Village in Orlando, Florida. She argued that with its place-making, emphasis is on supporting emerging industry and a new model for economic development - a creative village is a step in that direction. 
She explains: "At its core, Creative Village is a real estate development, a chance to elevate a parcel of land into a place defined by a cohesive collection of buildings, residences, open spaces and institutions. Were that all Creative Village was about, however, it would hardly be as significant as it has the potential to become."
In Orlando, the creative village concept originated with  Buddy Dyer, the visionary mayor of the central Florida city best known for the Magic Kingdom of Disney, who saw the need to continue to grow the creative community such that economic development opportunities might be generated.
WOW! I have been intrigued by the Creative Village concept for some time, and have been following its progress in Orlando , and had a bird's eye view of the downtown area included from the top of THE VUE, a condo development in the city's downtown heart on a recent visit there. Thanks to Michael Pelzer of fo arranging my visit.
In fact, just recently I set out for a walk through downtown Cranbrook, trying to connect dots and visualize a Creative Village here. I walked further than I had planned and ended up at First Avenue South, walked up to Third Street South and headed back to the downtown area. I stopped for a rest at Rotary Park.
I have walked the downtowns of many cities in North America, and believe to really discover what the city is all about, you need to walk it, if possible many times.
Imagine a Creative Village in Cranbrook or where ever you may live.. First though, a caution from Mayor Dyer. He wrote in a column for the Huffington Post that it is the result of a decade of hard work by the Orlando community to diversify the economy beyond its base of tourism and create the industries and jobs of the future. Emphasis on the future.
"These transformational projects, which began in the years prior to the recession, are slowly paying dividends as our community moves from recession into recovery and, ultimately we believe, into prosperity."
The vision for the Creative Village says it will be magnet for knowledge workers to live, work, learn and play in a place where high technology, digital media, and creative industry that is connected to the surrounding community and plugged in globally, innovative in its architecture, thoughtfully in creating living and working space.
The mayor is talking about creating the industries and jobs for the 21st century which requires quite a change in thinking for everyone involved. The same would apply here, but as I walked along, "blue skying" if you will, it could happen anywhere..
The mayor also recognizes the "toxic political culture" that is current in the United States, and perhaps, in Canada  too. But, through seeking common, collaborative solutions, progress is now being made.
Other projects are also underway in downtown Orlando, all of which complement the Creative Village concept. 
Almost 20 years ago now, when I was at College of the Rockies, we hosted a conference Called 'The Future is Now' -- and while the speakers were excellent, including Angus Reid and Ken Dryden, and people from outside Cranbrook attended, very few from the community did. But that was then and this is now. 
Methinks, given the empty space, including entire buildings on my walk, the time may have come for Cranbrook to realize it is time to accept the future is now for some creative thinking about its future.
I will be going for more walks, and if you would like to join me, great. I go in the early evening. My email is 
One final comment -- You should know that when I taught urban and cultural Geography, my students were encouraged to go for walks.  

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