Sixteen Candles

Yesterday I was on the phone with Dwight Bassett, economic development director of Chapel Hill, who had just come back from Boulder.  Dwight and I have been working together the last year, trying to figure out how to bring more jobs to build on the the phenomenal, world-class research in his town.  (A professor at UNC won the Nobel last fall.)  Dwight had just come back from a site visit to Boulder and he was overwhelmed by number and diversity of good jobs there.  We talked briefly about “catalytic” actions, but soon enough gave up this line of reasoning, deciding that you cannot turn things around so easily, with just one or two actions.  Instead we latched onto the analogy of lighting up a dark room with candles.   Light one and  the room is no longer in darkness.  Light two, and now the pool of light extends beyond the table.  Light three and now you can see the details of your surroundings.  And so on until the room is bright.  The same is true with economic development:  there is no switch on the wall:  It takes simply takes a lot of candles and more than one person to light them.