An ecosystem can make or break the success of a place

Ecosystem is such a great word. One that can be used in so many ways and explain so many ideas. Having lived in allot of places, I’ve watched people succeed within it or try and create it so various cultures can succeed. I’m keen on cultural realities and urban ecosystems are now modern reality.

I grew up in Seattle where it felt like anyone could be an entrepreneur. I was surrounded by them. I lived downtown and directed fashion and then drag shows. In fact I opened for Ru Paul back in the day when he was practically unknown. But it was easy. Almost everyone was an entrepreneur. This is how it felt growing up in a thriving ecosystem like Seattle.

But I was surprised such a thriving one existed in the middle of the countryside of Piedmont, Italy. Their biodiversity is legend and yet Piedmont thrives because of business models built by families. Most remain small but they are deeply entrepreneurial and often immensely successful.

One could argue Italy is a country filled with artisans and entrepreneurs. It has corporations but only in specific places, like Milan or in Biella, home of Ermenegildo Zegna, Cerruti, Fila, Banca Sella, etc.

Either way, these ecosystems are built by the will of the people living in these places. It’s hard to imagine now, but once upon a time Detroit led the way. Henry Ford revolutionised the automobile industry when he virtually created the assembly line at his Highland Park Plant in 1910. His innovation transformed mass production and he wanted people to be able to afford to buy his cars. He revolutionised labor relations when he announced he would pay workers at his plant five dollars a day – double the rate at rival firms. Ford built an ecosystem where the people could succeed.

There has to be vision and then people will take advantage. Seattle had Nordstrom and Boeing long before Microsoft and Amazon came along. It had the ecosystem built in but that doesn’t stop any other cities and places from replicating success.

Same thing in Piemonte. They had the land and Italians truly do have a talent for cultivating their land. The biodiversity breeds fine products because the Italians, as artisans, are focused on making fine food. In the same way those artisans created fine art and the Renaissance. It didn’t happen everywhere, but it can when there’s a vision and the city or region allows talent to foster.

The one characteristic that is common between Seattle and Piedmont is they are serious. They foster talent internally and attract talent and focus on innovation. A traditional ecosystems need water, air sunlight, soil, plants, insects and animals. A thriving ecosystem in the city needs a type of environment that collectively can create a thriving ecosystem; innovation, talent, will and focus on learning on a continual basis.

Published by baileyalexander

An American living in Piemonte. Sailed across the Atlantic aboard our 43 Nauticat in 2002 and spent over a decade living in Rome, Paris, Prague, Malta, Venice and Bucharest before settling in Piemonte, Italia.

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