quarterly.exchange | May 2019 Table of Contents



May 2019 - Intelligent Philanthropy

Welcome to the Creative Capital of Canada
Celebrating our regional reality
by Paul Kalbfleisch

Like many business people in this community, you are probably wondering what Waterloo Region will be like in the future and what the path to continued success looks like.

There are many factors that help create economic success and wealth for a community. But time and again the most important factor is the creativity and innovation of its people. New York, San Francisco – even Austin Texas, are leaders because of the creative talent that resides there.

When you define creativity as the ability to solve problems with fresh perspectives, Waterloo Region has proven this to be true as well. 100 years ago creative minds turned our community into an industrial powerhouse. Another generation of problem solvers led our transition into the innovation economy. Kaufman, Breithaupt, McCulloch, Krug, Bauer and Lazaridis were creative and collaborative. Their inventiveness was enhanced by hundreds of creative people on shop floors and within a community that found ways to support growth. They gave birth to Hush Puppies, Crown Royal, artificial cattle insemination, Tiger Brand, Bauer Skates, The Blue Box, Home Hardware, BlackBerry, the University of Waterloo and a few Nobel Prizes to name just a few successes.

Today we are faced with the job of positioning ourselves in the very competitive innovation sector past leaders brought us to. Without question we will need to attract more creative minds and we will need a strategy for retaining home grown talent. We’ll need a unique message that the world will find compelling. And, we will have to be more confident, prouder and louder that we have been before.

Loud pronouncements of our achievements may make some people in the community uncomfortable. We tend to be practical and humble. But consider this – other communities with a track record like ours would have statues, plaques, signs that say “Home of…” and a few horns proudly blowing. There is a very logical and practical reason for that – what you celebrate you attract and what you don’t celebrate you forget and eventually lose. It is simply the way cultures work.

It is that insight, and the opportunity it holds, that has given birth to a social movement among local businesses and citizens focused on encouraging confidence and celebration of what led to Waterloo Region’s success – problem solving creativity.

The movement started out as a collection of ideas, concerns and conversations and is now taking shape in social media. One of the early, and loud, supporters of the movement is HIP Developments.
“Years ago, Austin Texas audaciously claimed the title ‘Live Music Capital of the World’. Then they audaciously set out to make it so.” claims Scott Higgins, President of HIP. “Their hard work to build a confident and vibrant community, that attracts creative minds, has paid off as they successfully compete against larger cities in the innovation economy. Considering our track record, why can we strive to be the Creative Capital of Canada?”

And so, the Creative Capital of Canada movement was formed; a growing group of people who feel it is time we proudly tell the world about our unique creative problem solving spirit.

The group champions the idea that creativity is an attribute found in all of us. It is the collaborative process of repetitively working though a challenge as you move closer and closer a new solution. It happens every day in our community in the form of cooperative alliances between competitors and open-door policies towards immigrant families. Our unique creative chain reaction occurs in shared workspaces and technically advanced factories. It is giving birth to new ideas, products and new forms of artistic expression. It also explains why we have 15 patents granted per 10,000 residents…11 times the national average! We need to acknowledge that creativity in each other. When we do we will see an explosion of inventiveness in every corner of the community.

Waterloo Region has developed a reputation for being makers and innovators. It may sound odd to say this, but it is critical that we become celebrators as well. Attracting and retaining world class talent is a challenge we must meet head on because, while we have been blessed with many success stories, we also have experienced some sobering reminders that the innovation economy does not hand out many second prizes. It is brutally competitive and it is impatient.

Creative Capital of Canada is an effort to show the world, and ourselves, that we value the innovative minds that improve life. We celebrate the people who don’t use the words “good enough” – people like Mark Yantzi who began the restorative justice movement that has influenced countless individuals and may yet transform the way the world thinks about and deals with crime.

Imagine a Waterloo Region in which future generations don’t have to leave home to change the world because they are surrounded by a community that supports and stimulates them. A community that also does not settle for good enough.
Think about it. Who wouldn’t want to say they are from the Creative Capital of Canada.

Paul Kalbfleisch is a strategy and marketing consultant. He specializes in the articulation of bold visions and providing creative choreography for complex initiatives. Paul is a supporter of the Creative Capital of Canada movement.

Here are some very simple ways you can be part of this movement

• Movements start with stories and they continually grow as more people find commonality in the stories they tell. So a good place for you to start is by learning about the many Waterloo Region creativity stories. Creativecapitalofcanada.ca has been set up for that very purpose. There you will find past and present examples of creativity from every corner of our community. On the site you can also add your name or company to the list of people who are proud of what goes on in the region.

• By no means does the site include every story. The movement needs your stories too. Consider the innovative problem solving things you or your organization does? Add them to the site. Or perhaps you know some brilliant unsung creative mind that the community and the world needs to hear about. Add it to the growing list of stories.

• Engage with other movement members on social media and follow #creativecapitalofcanada. Links are found on the website.

• You can also start celebrating today. Give some thought to how you could incorporate pride in the Creative Capital of Canada into your organization’s communications and marketing.

• It is important to note that those of us who are supporting this effort are not an official group. There is no formal “logo” or tight rules. Followers don’t need to seek approval. Feel free to be creative in how you express your support for the Creative Capital of Canada. HIP Developments has produced their own video expressing the belief that creativity is in everyone. There will be fun Creative Capital of Canada activities at the Summer Lights Festival in downtown Kitchener this summer. This is a celebration – not a taskforce.

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