A Shout Out to Spokane's Creative Class


Picture: Quail feather caught on some brush on a hillside in Spokane Valley.

I came across this article in the Ottawa Citizen about the way the "creative class" is leading the charge in the economic growth of more rural areas, as opposed to traditional manufacturing and construction sectors. I couldn't help but think of Spokane and our Inland Northwest Region.

The article references a study;

Canada's Creative Corridor shows that job growth in rural EasternOntario between 1996 and 2006 was led by far by Creative Class workers, at over 25 per cent -- ahead of the working class (manufacturing and construction) at 13 per cent, the service class (retail, food, personal services) at 10 per cent and the agricultural and resource class, where jobs actually fell by 21 per cent.

He defines the Creative Class as "teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers, and programmers as well as our artists, musicians and designers."

Here's the part that really grabbed my attention:

The report identifies several assets that have contributed to the success of the creative economy in rural Eastern Ontario.

These include an educated work force, a significant base of educational institutions, an ethos of innovation that has been demonstrated across numerous domains (for example, food, agriculture, health care, manufacturing), recreational and other amenities that contribute to a high quality of life, a culture of environmental sustainability (green agriculture, renewable energy, local food and local business support) and a regionally focused economic development strategy that includes the creative economy.

What about Spokane?

  • Educated work force and significant base of educational institutions? Check.
  • Recreational and other amenities that contribute to a high quality of life? Check.
  • An ethos of innovation? There are pockets of innovation but I'm not sure it adds up to an ethos.
  • A culture of environmental sustainability? There are some good things going on in this area but I'd hate to think about where we'd be if not for Jim Sheehan and his efforts downtown. One person does not a culture make.
  • Regionally focused economic development strategy? I see the Buy Local signs around but beyond the marketing strategy I'm not aware of a comprehensive economic development strategy for our region.

I don't agree with the class distinctions assumed in the article. For example, farmers are among the most creative and innovative folks I know. But I do agree that it's the creatives of Spokane, in all their wonderful varieties, that will lead the charge in Spokane of cultivating a more vital future.

But where are you? Where are the cultural creatives of Spokane? Where are the craftsmen of culture? Where are the excavators of ethos? Spokane needs you.