The most inspiring person at the Creating Cool conference was the lunchtime keynote: Bill Strickland of the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild.
Here was a simple man with no money who established a center for excellence in job training, art and music production in “a black neighborhood in inner city Pittsburgh” as he reminded the audience repeatedly. The incredible story behind the center is definitely worth the time to read.
Another great story told at the conference was that of the Box Factory in St. Joseph, Michigan, where a guild of artists got proactive and transformed an abandoned factory building in downtown into a nightly mecca of art, entertainment and community. It was inspired by the locally famous Torpedo Factory in downtown Alexandria, Virginia.
Still though, a group of innovative investors at this Michigan-sponsored event unsuccessfully sought cities in which to invest $200 to $400 million worth of “cool city” fabric, discovering it may take a generation or two before the state’s auto industry-dominated cities are retooled to accept that kind of investment… unless municipalities find leaders as cool as the Governor.