Connecting and celebrating local entrepreneurs and people who are making an impact on their local economy was the driving force of the 2018 Cultural Summit.
The event, held at Signal Brewery in Corbyville Tuesday evening, was jointly organized by the cities of Belleville and Quinte West, along with Hastings County.
It was held as a way to have local business people, artists, members of government and media members discuss and discover avenues of creating employment through culture.
The Cultural Summit featured a panel discussion with local entrepreneurs Amelia Campbell of Campbell’s Orchards and Signal Brewery’s own Richard Courneyea, along with the event’s emcee, Stirling comedian Timmy Boyle. The discussion was meant to shine a light to people in attendance about what they can offer the community at their respective businesses and to encourage entrepreneurial spirit amongst the locals.
Also, a group involved in the Aleck Bell Canadian Pop Rock Musical at Tweed Company Theatre entertained the crowd of with a four-song performance.
Greg Tehven of Fargo, North Dakota was the keynote speaker for the summit. He is the executive director and co-founder of Emerging Prairie, an organization that has a mission to connect entrepreneurs, artists and creators in a high-technology “entrepreneurial ecosystem”. Tehven is also a professor and has co-organized programs such as 1 Million Cups and Startup Weekend Fargo.
In his speech, Tehven explained the concept of “geographical bullying”, where people strictly associate a place in the world with a certain stereotype.
An example came from his home state of North Dakota, where in the late 1980s, local politicians and community leaders were worried about the best and brightest young people leaving for other areas due to the perceived notion that there were no opportunities for education or opportunities within the business sector. They and others suggested that, because of the state’s declining population at the time, that they should “give North Dakota back to the buffalo.”
“Most people think North Dakota is just this wide open land where nobody lives. When I was in high school, people would ask me if I had the internet,” he added.
The aim of Tehven’s example was to dispel those misconceptions and encourage innovation and growth in communities.
Tehven said it took almost leaving North Dakota for him to recognize the true value of community: average, hard-working, generous people.
Tehven shared the five Community Creation Principles used at Emerging Prairie that drive economic development. They include:
- Supporting entrepreneurs – encourage “the misfits, the crazy ones” with grand visions and ideas that may be tough to achieve to take those risks, despite what the “devil’s advocate” says.
- Educating your community – make people understand what you’re trying to accomplish.
- Infusing the arts
- Building on your bright spots
- Radical inclusivity
The biggest message Tehven conveyed to the audience was, you can create positive impact or change in the world at large just by simply believing in what your local community can offer.
“I believe for our population to reach our full potential, we have to support our entrepreneurs and we have to support our artists. It’s in that beautiful intersection where communities thrive…if you believe in this place and you connect with this place and you love this place, anything is possible,” Tehven added.
“It’s interesting to me that big cities are trying to figure out how to be more like us.”