Learning from Robbie Burns

Malcolm Gladwell stirred up controversy last fall when he asserted “the revolution won’t be tweeted” postulating that the weak and limited commital networks of social media (confirming ‘I Like’ something for example) are not enough to bring real social change. 

I think that makes some intuitive sense but there is a lot of evidence that social media can make a difference when it comes to community organizing.

Take the Robbie Burns statue in Freddy Beach.  To some it was just another piece of public art that had come to the end of its shelf life – just like any painting or statue or plaque.

Wrong.   This was quite a thing on social media – even Charles Leblanc took it up as a cause.

It went viral and the international Robbie Burns advocacy group raised it with their members internationally and made it clear to City Hall that this was unacceptable. 

The idea of the pristine and squeakly clean reputation of Fredericton being hammered by Scots everywhere set the wheels in motion.  Mayor Woodside was adamant that he was going to fix this while he was eating haggis, reciting Burns’ poetry and listening to bagpipes.

In my view, the city would have paid five times the cost of refurbishing the statue to make this go away.

As a guy who would like to whip up a holy fervor over New Brunswick’s economic development, I am envious of this ability to take the NB psyche (or portions of it). 

Someone who moved here from Ontario a few years ago told me recently that New Brunswickers are the nicest people on the planet… until they aren’t.  And then watch out. 

I’d like to bottle that Robbie Burns’ fervor, or that NB Power fervor or that anti-toll highway fervor – or you name the cause.

I suspect if the politicians felt such fear from our weak economic performance, getting serious about economic development would pretty quickly rise to the top of the agenda.

As it is I’m down in the gutter fighting with the advocates of expanding Route 108 or those looking to make a canal between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

4 thoughts on “Learning from Robbie Burns

  1. Great read, and post. Social Media can come to the rescue or bite you on the butt, depending on where you are on the spectrum.

    Enjoyed this post.


  2. And in the words of A SocialNomics quote… “It’t the Economy, Stupid” can now be changed to… “It’s a People Driven economy Stupid”


  3. “those looking to make a canal between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.”

    Ah yes. Was that not one of the four ‘Pillars of Prosperity’ proposed by the Atlantic Advocate a few decades ago? If memory serves, the other three were:

    1) making dulse the new spinach;
    2) having a ‘Woodstock a year’ in sad old Moncton;
    3) inventing the telegraph.

    Or was that last one tidal power?

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