Thursday, June 02, 2005

Stop Waiting for Godot

While walking through Cleveland's Playhouse Square during the lunch hour, I overheard a business man asking another, "so do you think there will ever be a day when a big company arrives in Cleveland to save it from despair?"

I've grown to despise such questions. These suggest that the solution to our region's economic woes resides outside of NEO. This mindset is part of our fundamental problem. Too many of us in the region are waiting for the solution to arrive. We're like the tragicomedy's lead characters, Estragon and Vladimir, in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot who believe an outsider will deliver them from despair. They pass the time waiting with inactivity and indecisiveness and continue to do so when all indicators point inevitably to the conclusion that Godot will never come.

I, too, was guilty of waiting for the next private-public solution to inspire some kind of renaissance in Cleveland. My view changed after meeting Peter_Rea, chair of the business division at Baldwin-Wallace College. He reminded me that the corporate players and market dynamics are no longer in place where Cleveland and NEO can place one big bet as it did in the early 1980s. He says re-invention will be a result of a lot of little fires from civic groups like Cleveland_Bridge Builders, 20/30 Club, and start-ups and other entrepreneurial efforts.

Rather than waiting for Godot, Peter recommends placing our collective bet on building a culture that fosters risk taking and creativity. He's asking us for fundamental change. Anyone committed to the region should be making the same request, as the waiting game is proving to be tragic.


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