Friday, June 15, 2007

Hello, New Michigan

"A New Agenda for A New Michigan" by the folks at Michigan Future, Inc. lays out strategies for finding our way along this path.

From the report:
"Our agenda to help better position Michigan and its regions to succeed in a knowledge-driven economy is centered on (1) developing a culture, and (2) making key public investments that are aimed at preparing, retaining, and attracting talent."

It lists three characteristics of successful regions in the new economy:

"*Learning. Instilling the love of learning may well be the most important foundation for economic success in a world characterized by accelerating creative destruction of both jobs and enterprises."

Learning is good. Schools are good. Public schools are good. Don't cut education funding; pamper your schools with more funding.

"*An entrepreneurial spirit. This is more than starting a business, although we need far more of that. It is a community that stops thinking of employment as a long-term entitlement to a good job and starts valuing competition and constant reinvention of one’s career."

That means empowered, creative people ready to try new things even when the big boys say it can't be done. It means thinking creatively about who you are now and who you can become. It means tooling and retooling yourself as technology changes. It means community support of lifelong learning.

"*Being welcoming to all. The places that do the best in attracting talent from anywhere on the planet win. This means building a culture that condemns rather than tolerates discrimination and segregation, as well as welcoming, with open arms, talented people from outside Michigan."

Being welcoming to all. Michigan, we have a long way to go on that one, starting with the fallout from the "marriage amendment" to the state constitution. We must start by welcoming the minorities and quirky, creative people already among us. Don't scorn or drive out the populations whose very existence forces us to question cultural assumptions. The presence of people doing things differently is a living witness that keeps us alert to our own complacence. Take a deep breath and understand that we need to be diverse, that we already are, and that it is a gift.