Does Charlotte Have the Right Networks?

I don’t always go for his stuff, but I found David Brooks’ column today interesting (apologies for consecutive blog posts citing the New York Times–which probably says more about my budget than my politics, by the way. WSJ has a paywall). The column was about America’s potential place as a crossroads nation in a globalized culture and economy, but this is the passage that stood out to me:

Howard Gardner of Harvard once put together a composite picture of the extraordinarily creative person: She comes from a little place somewhat removed from the center of power and influence. As an adolescent, she feels herself outgrowing her own small circle. She moves to a metropolis and finds a group of people who share her passions and interests. She gets involved with a team to create something amazing.

Then, at some point, she finds her own problem, which is related to and yet different from the problems that concern others in her group. She breaks off and struggles and finally emerges with some new thing. She brings it back to her circle. It is tested, refined and improved.

The main point in this composite story is that creativity is not a solitary process. It happens within networks. It happens when talented people get together, when idea systems and mentalities merge.

It made me wonder, do such networks exist in Charlotte? Can that extraordinarily creative person exist in and contribute to Charlotte, or must he or she move on?

We are working on a story for the January issue that suggests that there are people trying to create those networks, but with no real evidence that anything has come of it yet. I also wonder if such networks can be intentionally created, or do they need to exist organically. And the other question is that if indeed those networks exist, are they present at such a level that they can actually affect change here?

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