Thursday, June 27, 2013

Create WV Conference on the Future to be Held In Richwood

Excited to be a part of the Create West Virginia Conference planning team this year.

Even more excited that it's going to be in my hometown of Richwood this year.

CHARLESTON, WV – Nicholas County’s City of Richwood will be the site of the 2013 Create West Virginia Conference, Thursday, October 24 through Saturday, October 26. The subject is The Future. 
“Richwood? Richwood has no conference facilities,” is the typical response to that news. In fact, the city, with its 29 boarded-up storefronts on Main Street, would appear to be a highly unlikely location for a conference that has attracted as many as 400 conferees in the past. “It’s true that it’s a creative challenge to have the conference in Richwood,” says Rebecca Kimmons, the 2013 conference director, “which is exactly the point. It’s one thing to go to a nice hotel and talk about the issues many West Virginia communities face. It’s another to be there. We considered several distressed towns around the state. Richwood’s Mayor Robert Johnson was very excited about the prospect of the Create Conference, and proactively encouraged us to come. It turns out that Richwood has more facilities than meets the eye.” Richwood High School will be the site of the conference, with keynote speeches to be delivered in the school’s comfortable and well-appointed 500 seat theater.Break-out sessions will also be held in the high school, and some meals will be served there. Students and teachers will have access to some conference proceedings. Keynote speakers lined up so far include Dr. Thomas Frey, Google’s favorite futurist; Dr. Naomi Stanford, an organizational design expert whose TEDx Talk on the future of work can be found on the Intenet; Dr. Greg Bowman, newly named associate dean of the WVU College of Law, whose topic will creating professionals who can go anywhere; and Thomas Worlledge, the West Virginia architect whose award-winning design for the Williamson Smart Office won a top award at The Building Conference last January. His topic will be “Don’t Touch That Town—Yet.”
The high school, to be renamed Create School during the conference, is a short, relatively level walk from Main Street, which the conference planning team is planning to transform into the Village of Create, West Virginia. Sally Barton, executive director of the Tamarack Foundation, is working with the team to populate the village with professional artisans and artists who will set up shop in as many storefronts as possible. Building owners are being contacted for permission to use their storefronts in much the same fashion as booths at a festival.
Conference food will be designed and prepared under the supervision of Chefs Dale Hawkins and Tim Urbanic. Hawkins is the proprietor of Fish Hawk Acres, a supplier of locally sourced, responsibly grown food, and Urbanic, who is listed on the Website, operates Café Cimino in Sutton, in partnership with his wife, Melody. Most conferees will stay in Summersville lodgings, about a 30-minute drive west on WV 39. “We’re planning to shuttle our guests to and from conference proceedings, and we’ll use that time to both entertain and inform our riders,” Kimmons says. Limited lodging will be available in Richwood, but plans are not yet finalized. 
“We don’t aim to ‘fix’ Richwood by holding a three-day conference there,” Kimmons emphasizes. “The city is engaged in a thorough, multi-faceted assessment and planning process through the WV Community Development Hub’s Blueprint Community program that will enable the residents there to come up with their own long-term remedies. 
“Create West Virginia’s goal is to bring some of the country’s best thinkers and doers to our doorstep, to engage with our state’s own visionaries in many different disciplines—business, applied science, education, design, and the arts,” Kimmons explains. “The conversations and connections made at previous Create WV conferences have born some interesting and long-term results. Create Huntington and Create Buckhannon have adopted innovation economy principals in their city planning processes, and many conversations around the state have been infused with innovation economy language and concepts. 
“The Create West Virginia Conference is broadly inclusive, a place where you can expect straight talk about real issues,” Kimmons continues. “The gathering really does serve to empower communities to see themselves as drivers of their own destinies. Looking at ourselves through the new economy prisms of diversity, entrepreneurship, education, quality of place, and technology offers an innovation context for growth.”
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