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An article in the Atlantic has been making the rounds on the Internet today (at least here in North Carolina) as it highlights local entrepreneurs. Durham’s Kickstarter Kids highlights a trend in the Triangle, typically known for big IT and pharma. With one of the most educated populaces in the nation, the Triangle (the NC region encompassing Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill) is becoming a hotbed for small start ups and creative ideas. Durham in particular has undergone a renaissance in the past five to ten years, attracting residents and businesses to a downtown that faded as the tobacco industry moved away.

So what are they doing? They’re making custom bound journals by marrying technology with just-in-time printing capabilities, using technology to create custom clothing, and making doughnuts (hey innovation needs fuel).

Durham is a great example of how a once industrial town can reinvent itself through an educated populace, creative thinking, and technology/innovation.

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A great article in Sunday’s New York Times highlighted some group activity not too far from the W5 offices. Crop Mobs have sprung up where people are going to small, organic and sustainable farms and helping out with big tasks. Essentially a group of 20 or more people helps these small farmers tackle big projects like building greenhouses, harvesting and sorting crops, etc. What’s the motivation?  A chance to be social, a chance to learn, a little bit of community building. The groups are organized by word of mouth and inspire enthusiasm from their volunteers.

In the rush to go to market with new line extensions and ads and products, there are a few lessons that companies could learn from the idea of Crop Mobs: simplicity, social interaction, providing value, etc. Offer your consumers value and give them a seat at the table.

Check out a Flickr gallery of the Crob Mob here.

Tom and I were at lunch last week when we picked up the Meals from the Market 2009 booklet. It’s a really nice piece of community fundraising and activism centered around meals, and wine & beer tastings at various locations and homes within Durham. With events like Bouncy House & Barbecue, Cocktails @ Cassilhaus (an architectural beauty), and Authenic Haytian Food & Dance in Historic Hayti there literally appears to be enough types of food, drink, and events for everyone. It’s a very interesting, and social way to help with Durham’s continued revival.

Check it out at www.durhamcentralpark.org

Tyler Farwell p. June 2009 - Swiped from Southern Spaces Journal

Tyler Farwell p. June 2009 - Swiped from Southern Spaces Journal - Click for Source

The Oxford American magazine website published a brief interview with Richard Florida this week, focusing on Southern U.S. cities’ positioning in the quiet competition to draw creative talent to the workforce.

As the interview is part of the magazine’s free online content, rather than published in print, the format of the interview is loose, and questioning posed to the Rise of the Creative Class / Who’s Your City author and sociologist is a little roundabout. However, as always, Florida’s responses are concise and careful and the discussion is interesting. Though Florida often conservatively draws back from prescribing any kind of cultural shifting, instead focusing more in the realm of city planning and corporate creative worker migration, he’s stretching out a bit in communicating his understanding of many creatives’ needs to balance authenticity and contemporary opportunities in their local communities.

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Faulkner in the sunshine- working hard or hardly working?

Faulkner in the sunshine- working hard or hardly working?

Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen an increase in marketing research work focused on constituencies in the south. This work has not just focused in the area in which we’re based (the Research Triangle of North Carolina – Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill) or in Atlanta, but all over the south.  Some have been targeted to populations of certain southern states; some target hand-picked Southern DMAs; and some studies have focused on select counties or parishes in certain southern states. And this work is not just coming from clients who are based in the South.

I don’t think it’s a sign of major economic or social turnaround for the region, but it is interesting to see populations within the south considered as representative on a national scale. Marketers are not just looking to middle America for feedback before moving forward with strategic initiatives – there is an increased regional focus. There is also increased focus on the Northwest and the Southwest as regions, and we’re working there too. But the exploration of Southern lifestyles and opinions sparks a particular interest for me. Read the rest of this entry »

One of the nice things about living near RTP is that as the area has grown, more and more innovative business has moved into the area.  Recently a former restaurant owner in the area decided to go simple and bring street food to the area.  Instead of high-priced dinners,  Sam Poley and Tom Ferguson of the Durham Catering Company have brought us OnlyBurger. The concept?  Great burgers at a cheap price without any pretention.  Let the product stand for itself.  

The location moves from site to site much like the castle in Krull (a movie everyone should see at least once in their lives). The cool thing about them (besides the food) is that they use Twitter to broadcast where they are going to be and when. It’s a nice marriage of technology, old lunch trucks, and Just-in-time solutions.