Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Turning skills into economic opportunity

I've never been to the United States but I know I will get there one day... so I don't know much about it and in particular about Ilinois... but when I came across this mini-documentary on Etsy I was quite excited and had to share.

'Rockford is a city of 150,000 people, located two hours west of Chicago. Formerly a manufacturing hub, its keystone employers have left the city, ushering in a wave of high unemployment. One of the benefits of having a strong manufacturing history, however, is that many residents already have skills in the arts (such as watchmaking and furniture making) that were once the backbone of the local economy. Mayor Morrissey is an enthusiastic advocate of giving Rockford residents the tools that they need to turn these skills into economic opportunity and we’re eager to support this vision.'

Isn't it a great story! Thank you Mayor Larry Morrissey for your insight and for initiating this and I only hope other Mayors and community leaders will follow your example. Thank you Etsy for seeing the opportunity and running with it.

My favourite human-interest stories are those when the human spirit triumphs over hardship... or more so when people find solutions to problems instead of being victims and waiting for someone to rescue them... because we should all be like this and more so now that the global economy is in the state it is in... and that we are facing Peak Oil and really need to start changing the way we do things (we need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels which in turn are what enabled industrial growth on an epic scale in both industry and agriculture). So when people find innovative ways to resurrect economies I'm all ears. We need to stop waiting for the government to find solutions as often these solutions are the result of being 'in bed' with all the wrong people...

I love that Mayor Morrissey made that connection between what Illinois used to be and what it could be again, that he recognised what the economy was once based on and even though he didn't think it could be like that again he gave it a shot, saying "it was also a great chance to teach entrepreneurship to a city like ours that had been, in so many respects, waiting for someone else to save us... and my deep belief is that we've got to save ourselves. It's not going to be the State or the Federal Government, it's got to be what we can do as a community."

This really feeds into my overall theory, the one I shared at length here recently... and also loosely fits into my own journey with this business of mine. By this I mean that I can see the difference of starting a creative business now compared to say around 2007 when the whole handmade thing was still very new to the www. A great little video I saw yesterday, an interview with Heather Moore of Skinny laMinx, proved this as she said she was fortunate to have started very early on in the piece when blogging, in the creative sector, was still quite new and meant that landscape wasn't as populated as it is today. Today it is really hard to be seen, to stand out because the handmade community just went 'boom'... platforms like Etsy have fostered that growth and I really see this big shift by countless people around the world to move back towards a simpler life - hopefully one where the planet, humans and animals are all carefully considered and treated with respect.

Seeing Mayors like Larry Morrissey embrace this is proof that this handmade economy is not one to dismiss. I said in my own post how the success of projects and initiatives like Renew Newcastle and all the others that have since started up are also proof that this is something that is not going to go away but instead will only get stronger. Especially since, here in Australia, we also have local councils and now even developers working alongside organisations such as Renew Newcastle as they want to breathe life into empty shops and deserted shopping villages and centres which in turn revives local communities and has many other benefits that feed off this.