CEOs for Cities Coming to Pittsburgh

The next national meeting of CEOs for Cities, "a cross sector network of urban leaders dedicated to speeding innovation in cities," comes to Pittsburgh in two weeks. This is a nice opportunity for the region to participate in a progressive dialogue. I worry, though, that some of the conversation will be framed badly. Here's a link to the meeting agenda. What looks like an anchoring event, a public discussion, is described this way:
The Power of One Connected
In a time where the ultimate resources are ideas, connections and innovation, how can we facilitate these very things? How can creativity be used to bolster the sociocultural, knowledge and creative capital of a city? This session will look at the power of creativity to engender selforganizing, self-generating means of exchange
among citizens.

The problem here is that the directional arrow may be pointed in the wrong direction. Can creativity "bolster" the sociocultural capital of a city? I'm not sure that I even know what that means, once the question is run through a jargon-neutralizing filter. But assuming that the question has some content, why not turn the arrow around and ask instead: "How can existing regional sociocultural networks and practices be energized and supported to bolster the production and distribution of creativity and innovation, leading to growth and prosperity, and how can new networks and practices be constructed and sustained?"

I'm not certain that my extended question survives the jargon-neutralizing filter, but I like it a lot better than the question in the program. Creativity and innovation, and ideas and connections (that's a very odd list, by the way) don't simply exist, waiting to be found and deployed; they are constructed and emerge from specific contexts, which have to be understood before they can be inputs into anything else.


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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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