The story surrounding "i.e.*" continues to draw laughs.
"i.e.*" is the Great Richmond Chamber of Commerce's latest, three-year-long promotional campaign that supposedly will make our town "the Capital of Creativity" in the words of promoter-in-chief Thomas A. Silvestri, the publisher of the Richmond Times-Dispatch and past chairman of the chamber.
About 200 people shelled out $125 a head for a pep talk a couple of weeks ago on "innovation" at La Difference furniture store downtown. The idea is to get so-called "provocateurs" and other cool folk to talk about just how great their ideas are to the world beyond the James River and the Henrico County line. The chamber's idea of such people include a belly dancer, the owner of a shoe store and a bright young girl. From what I can tell, the Martin Agency and others are supposed to let the globe know that such talent is here as we wait for the "paradigm" to "shift."
At least that's the idea of a promoter named Andy Stefanovich who apparently wants to be on the "flash dial" list of every economic development official in the country along with pop urbanist Richard Florida and journalist Thomas Friedman of "The World Is Flat" fame.
As the murky concept of "i.e.*" started to sink in, a number of people have had questions about it. I did in a previous blog post. My Style Weekly colleague Don Harrison did in this issues Back Page. Carolyn Troiano wrote her doubts in a letter to the editor of the TD on July 6.
Here are some of the responses from our Fearless Leadership. Silvestri ran a full page of breathless praise for the program on July 3's Commentary section in the TD. One of his points: "Preschoolers dressed in business attire demonstrating why they're already leaders."
That really confused me. Does dressing up four-year-olds transform them? Why didn't he say: "Preschoolers dressed up like Stalin demonstrating why they're already dictators?" It makes about as much sense.
The "i.e.*" issue is apparently so touchy for the Silvestri-controlled TD that the editorial page editors trotted out Kim Scheeler, chamber president, to respond to Ms. Troiano's letter in print. This is part of his response: "These companies are looking for places where creativity annd innovation are part of the fabric as that environment fosters more innovation in the workplace."
Here's my suggestion. If Richmond's power elite really wants to put out the idea that we're all so terribly creative, leave Silvestri and Scheeler out of it. Silvestri can't type a line without insulting his readers'intelligence. Scheeler's prose can't get beyond consultant-speak gobbledygook. If Richmond is going to get competent leaders, maybe they should start by finding articulate people. It could also be that the "i.e.*" is so obtuse that no one can explain it.
Not to worry. The TD apparently hasn't posted Troiano's letter online so the world at large won't know of her skepticism about our new Capital of Creativity. One problem solved!