Think and act
In December, the Reno News & Review published an issue devoted to the concept that the city’s future depends on a fundamental change in how we view ourselves. We called it, “RenoGen,” and based it on the theories of a national marketing analyst, Patricia Martin. Its content can be accessed here: www.newsreview.com/reno/2010-12-30/archive.
Concurrently, the Reno Gazette-Journal has been promoting its ideas for the future, a future in which aging white guys and dying businesses take the leadership role. It is not our purpose to be maudlin, but the fact is, the future is not for retirement-age-plus individuals. The future is not for businesses that only attempt to live an analog business model in a digital world. Those individuals and industries are the ones who refused to act to diversify our economy, who refused to support leaders with a vision that extended to the whole valley, who not only refused to act in the interests of the community at large, but in cases like the RG-J, actively promoted efforts—like the train trench and unrestrained growth—that endangered the city’s future.
The future is for the young. Young people are not only adapted to the new reality, but it’s where they prefer to exist. They are primarily cultural consumers and cultural producers. They are collaborators and innovators in ways that didn’t exist 10 years ago. They have demands that Reno could meet, but as long as Northern Nevada stays on the same old pathways, they’re going to stay away in droves. We, as a community, want them living here and visiting here. We want them driving the new green economy through technology, culture and recreation. (And by the way, the proposed Fitzgeralds project, CommRow, fits this model quite closely.)
Reno already has the infrastructure to support the cultural consumer. We have an infrastructure unavailable anywhere else in this country—because of our faltering economy. We already have high-tech stages and wall space that could be adapted to all kinds of performing, visual and musical arts. We already have the arteries to be on the circuits of national acts—almost every major musical act that goes across country passes through Reno on Interstate 80. We already have the infrastructure for big internet pipes and technology.
Use Ashland, Ore., as an example. Did Ashland have a Globe Theater that made it a world center for Shakespeare? No. Ashland decided to get behind Shakespeare and now the Oregon Shakespeare Festival operates on a budget of more than $26 million, presents more than 780 performances annually, and has attendance of 400,000.
Think Park City, Utah, was known for its love of independent movies?
Did Black Rock City spring from the playa because of all the people there?
The business community, government and citizens need to get behind ideas that support the new cultural consumer. We need to get actively engaged in helping the young self-starters. We need to enhance our intellectual infrastructure. We need more affordable housing in the urban core. We need sensible and affordable transportation. We need to become more environmentally progressive. We need to create an inviting, interesting and friendly environment for the young people we’ve been pushing out the city since the 21-and-over economy started.
Young people are the new economy. They are our future. Embrace the idea.