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    These is my log of professional, political and sometimes personal thoughts and observations. I am Bettina Walter, a Senior Information Architect (IA), Interaction Designer and Usability Professional.
    I am co-owner of PunkLogic.

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Creative Class – Noosa

Mark Stockwell, Sarah, Bob Abott and Richard Florida

‘Knowledge and Creativity’ was held at the J., Noosa Junction, on 23/Nov/2007
I attended out of curiosity to check out what the ‘Noosa Creative Alliance’ is all about. After all:

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – Buckminster Fuller
It was worth going – especially for the interesting people I met – thanks Vivianne, Colin, Frank, Leah, Alexander….

from the program – What’s on at the J.:
Richard Florida is the best selling author of the books ‘The Rise of the Creative Class’ and ‘The Flight of the Creative Class’ and is one of the worlds leading public intellectuals on economic competitiveness, demographic trends and cultural and technological innovation.
Florida’s ‘creative class’ is composed of such professionals as scientists, engineers, university professors, poets and architects. Florida theorises that the ‘creative class’ fosters an open, dynamic, personal and professional environment. He holds that attracting and retaining high-quality talent as opposed to a singular focus on infrastructure projects such as sports stadiums, iconic buildings, and shopping centers would be a better primary use of a city’s regeneration resources for long-term

My fairly random thoughts:

  • The whole approach seemed very American – business (building developer) ‘investing’ into a local community and thus trying to shape it’s future very visibly and unabashed.
  • Mark Stockwell was announced as Noosa’s Richard Branson. He is a former Olympic medalist swimmer for Australia and a buiding developer. His company is behind the Noosa Civic Shopping Mall which was mentioned as much as possible on the night – fair enough – Stockwell seem to put $1m up for it. (Can anybody confirm this?)
  • To have Richard Florida flown in to speak and to help creating the right framework for strengthening and expanding Noosa’s Creative Class must cost quite a bit and it might well be worth every penny.
    Will there be any transparency about how this is financed? Maybe there is already and I haven’t found it yet.
  • Richard Florida had very valid things to say – a lot of which make good common sense. For example: tolerance for gays and foreigners is good for a strong creative class in a community. Can you talk ‘tolerance’ up? How do you make it so?
    A luxurious Mardi Gras decompression event on main beach – an oasis with all the herbal and massage therapies to aid recovery from a demanding party comes to mind…
  • On sustainability:
    Richard spoke about how important sustainability and green spaces are for the happiness of a community – and how well Noosa has done in this department.
    My reaction to this is: ‘Low expectations’ gentlemen! Just because the rest of Australia is getting it largely even ‘wronger’ with regards to sustainability, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know better!
    Looking for example at the Noosa Civic:
    Noosa’s latests shopping mall and business center. With it’s huge foot print and roof space I can not understand why the air conditioning is not running on solar power or in fact the whole center’s electricity needs are fed off photo-voltaics. Is the civic rainwater harvesting? Why are there no wildlife corridors through the enormous asphalt dessert which is the car park out front?
  • On inclusiveness:
    White men are still appearing to run the show.
    Hardly any women were visible apart from a mentioning of ‘the beautiful women working for Mark Stockwell’ and Mark presenting Sarah to the audience, who was said to be behind Florida’s ‘Creative Classes’ success in Australia.
  • On motives:
    I would like to see this as a philanthropic gesture and a wise and proactive contribution to the community.
    Putting my more cynical hat on (which color would that be, Mr. de Bono?) I’d say it is a smoke screen for further destruction of natural habitat and a ploy to get life and business into the Civic. I’d be very pleased to be proved wrong.

The noosa creative alliance is all in all an interesting approach. For it to run with heart and integrity we will need a strong representation of the ‘Noosa Creative Class’.

On the night details where collected of people willing to be one of 30 ‘catalysts’ for the program – needless to say I’d like very much to be one.

The entry for the ‘Creative Class’ at the J. was $45 bucks (investment it was called on the program) – that should keep the riff-raff out 😉

Comments, corrections and other views most welcome.



12 Responses

  1. Yeah – tend to agree with most of your points. I got a little annoyed by the all singing, all dancing “show” – but think that the motivations are right.

    More time in the region will hopefully mean less sell and more substance.

    First time to your site (I keep an eye on mentions online about Noosa Civic) and impressed!


  2. Thanks Anne. I also hope the motivations are right.

  3. excellent – and overall cynically restrained – analysis of the proposed ‘if we build it they will come’ plan. the low expectations, gentlemen remark will sustain me for weeks. a kerb and guttered Disney cultural village with carefully placed remnants of wildlife (with paved paths for better safer access of course) will not draw the creative hordes here – it will repel them. the Civic has from the start seemed to be the not very thin edge of the of wedge. as a designer who has created a restaurant, film festival, and gallery and given up on several other ventures in 4 years of being in Noosa in an attempt to bring something different – every day with one foot out of the place in despair – i too wouldn’t mind getting on that committee. hope to see you there.

  4. I am not even sure whether Richard Florida is going to come back here. I talked to Sara after the “show” and it sounded like she is running the 2 day conference in April (where the 30 catalysts are going to start their work). And after that she will run a teleconference every two months with the participants.

    But far more important is what we do here. And I think it is a great opportunity to get together another slice of the community to shape our future.


  5. Hey alex – thanks for your comment and I hope you keep your one foot firmly grounded here. I arrived here from London for family reasons and have a lot of motivation to make this a good place to live AND work.

    And thanks Alexander for dropping in. I think you are right about Sara running the CC ‘show’ from here on in.
    I agree. It’s most important what we make of it.

  6. A friend referred me to this blog. I’m dissapointed really, I can’t find any constructive contributions amongst your less than restrained cynacism. Even the positive comment about Florida’s views was soured by a cheap throw away tail end slur. Cynacism and sarcasm aside, what do you intend to do personally to progress our region in a practical and meaningful way? How do you figure on presenting your model to the community without appearing to be holding an all singing and dance show? What is the extent of your research into sustainable socio-economics and may I see this work? What is the extent of your generous or otherwise phylanthropic contribution to this region so far? What has been your practical contributions to getting the ‘low achievements’ of Noosa’s sustainability into a higher standard? There’s only one way I can see women (of any colour) getting involved in developing our society is that they create concepts and ideas that are progressive and contributive and then commit to implementing them, just like all the ‘white guys’ have to.

  7. Thanks for dropping in Lew

    I am actually really excited about these things happening in Noosa. When I wrote in my article I agree with a lot Richard said on the night, I meant it. When I wrote he might well be worth every penny, I meant it. Offending people is certainly not what I am after. I am interested in transparency, democracy, fairness, ecological as well as economic sustainability and a vibrant culture.

    I have been living and raising a family in Noosa for one and a half years. I am (hopefully) one of these foreigners Richard mentioned who will be an important element conducive to the rise of a Creative Class in Noosa. I am keen to contribute and commit my time and energy. Amongst other things, I have set up this blog which I hope will help facilitate exchanges just like this. I am mentoring and getting involved in school, community and sustainability projects as much as my life as a professional practitioner and mother allows.

    It isn’t easy, but it sure is interesting.
    Watch this space 🙂

  8. Hi Bettina

    I met up with Samantha Smith the other day – do you know her? She mentioned the Noosa Creative Alliance and a google took me to your blog and website. I like your Web 2.0 approach to things and perhaps should get in touch with you when we get to our next makeover at http://www.ecosteps.com.au

    all the best, Julian

  9. Hi Julian, thanks for the comment. I don’t thinkI know Samantha.
    I did have a quick look through the ecosteps site. Very interesting.
    It would be good to have a chat.

  10. Hi Bettina,
    have you applied to become a catalyst?

  11. Not yet. The deadline is the 8th of Feb – and I’m yet to sharpen my quill since it’ll need to be printed, hand written, scanned, emailed back, then (on their end) get deciphered, entered into some sort of digital device again… etc. – talking about ‘Knowledge Economy’… 🙂

    Anyway I WILL apply as soon as I’ve wrestled this major project I’m working on through the door.
    What about you?

  12. I made the deadline.
    It was a dream about enjoying life that made me decide to go for it…
    I hope to see you in the team (if I am selected to be part of it)

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