Creativity in Fort St. John

Richard Florida speaks in Fort St. John about the “creative class”

People involved with the energy industry often lament that “regular people” have a dangerous lack of information about the sector. This ignorance, they say, either leads people to take energy resources for granted or fall prey to emotional perspectives that don’t consider “the facts.”

Fort St. John hosted the region’s annual energy conference this past week and attendees frequently talked about the importance of increasing energy literacy. Pipelines, natural gas, temporary foreign workers, the oil sands, work hermes h belt camps, municipal advancements in renewable energy, the regulatory environment, and First Nations involvement in energy were all discussed. They’re big topics, vital to a comprehensive level of literacy about the energy sector in the region, its impacts, and contributions. It provided a great opportunity to learn, question, and just have a conversation with people who know a lot about the energy sector.

In fact, maybe the only word used more than “literacy” over view the website
the last few days in Fort St. John was “conversation.” Tracey Wolsey, a fellow UNBC Political Science grad who now works for oilsands giant Suncor, tapped me on the shoulder during one presentation to whisper that replacing the word “debate” with “conversation” might actually be one of the most important things we can do as a region when we consider our future with the energy sector. She wasn’t the only one to talk this way. Dianne Hunter, city manager of Fort St. John, titled her presentation on work camps “We are in this together” to illustrate the blurred lines between camps, host communities, home communities, big companies, small local service firms, transient workers, and long-time local residents. “Industry talks about projects,” she said. “We talk about communities.”

UNBC’s Greg Halseth speaks about work camps

Those communities have a lot at stake. UNBC prof Greg Halseth believes that Northern BC is on the cusp of what could be its most significant transformation in 50 years and he is currently studying the state of readiness in four regional communities: Prince Rupert, Kitimat, Terrace, and Prince George. During his presentation, he also identified conversation to be a vital prerequisite of local readiness related to economic growth.

Conversation sounds easy enough, but it isn’t. Part of the reason is the increased concentration of people in big cities. We’ve become Homo Urbanus – people of cities – increasingly divorced from many of the aspects of what sustains our lives and livelihoods. Sure, city dwellers need energy literacy, but they also have little daily exposure to how their food is produced, where fresh water comes from, or what really generates economic prosperity.

Nevertheless, the growth of cities has been described by some as a sign of progress; evidence of the emergence of a new creative hermes belt size chart men
class. Richard Florida was a professor in the United States when he wrote The Rise of the Creative Class a decade ago, describing a transformation that had been occurring in employment patterns. Never before, he argued, had “the creative class” (comprised of people in such diverse fields as biotechnology, financial services, education, the arts, engineering, etc) represented such a large part of society and this was especially evident in big cities. He was the keynote speaker in Fort St. John, and I wondered how a presentation about the creative class would go over in a city at the centre of the resource sector. His presentation was spellbinding and later I thought about why I was worried. Why did I think birkin bag hermes that there would automatically be conflict between cities and rural areas with respect to the creative class? Instead, Florida suggested that natural resources and creativity can go together like a hand in a glove. It’s true.

This may be the essence of our region’s future; to put creativity – more than literacy, more than conversation – at the centre of how we participate in the resource sector. This would change the conversation about our readiness as a region and how we might want to benefit from resource development. It would also make our region an indispensable contributor to new understanding about how resource development, environmental sustainability, and community vitality can co-exist. It implies leadership, innovation, and capacity-building in the place where the resource extraction occurs. I like it.


This entry was posted in The Tour by Rob van Adrichem. Bookmark the permalink.

About Rob van Adrichem

Rob van Adrichem is a UNBC grad and the University’s Vice-President for External Relations. He was born and raised in Prince George and has been an employee of UNBC since 1992. He was appointed by former Premier Gordon Campbell to a provincial council on climate action and has been a champion of UNBC’s efforts to be a model for sustainability. He is married with two young children.