Words by Mat Arney
The outer edges are where growth happens. Just look at trees. Things move fastest on the peripheries too – studies into crowd dynamics have shown that the people on the outside of the pack get to where they’re trying to go, quicker. The same is true of Cornwall; the far south west of the country, five hours from the ‘centre of the action’ and surrounded on three sides by the ocean, is fizzing with creativity and people pushing the boundaries. You can only push boundaries, from the boundary.
Cornish businesses, freelancers, consultants and recent remote-working transplants are operating at national and international scales. Taking inspiration from our broad blue horizons and the outward-looking aspect that Cornwall’s location and situation promotes, ideas abound and as a result innovation is injected back up the line. Historically, Cornwall was the first port of call for products or news arriving into the country and sent its expertise out into the world; exactly the same thing is happening now, in the Ideas Economy.
Those ideas and that work often has added value. Whether due to the proximity to the natural world here and its influence, or the lifestyle benefits that retains or attracts people to live and work here, green, blue and regenerative agendas are embedded in so many people’s work. Cornwall boasts the largest cluster of B Corps in the UK outside of London – and that’s just the businesses large or committed enough to go through the certification process. There are countless others pushing in the same direction on environmental and social issues without a badge on their website. There are also a great many individuals working remotely on climate issues and transforming economies. In this space in particular there is a need for communication, collaboration and co-operation, and potential for a Cornish hub – so many of these great minds are unaware of the collaborative opportunities that exist within a tiny radius of their laptops.
It would be incredible if Cornwall can retain its innovative mindset, and not just become or be seen as a remote working outpost with the beach as an added bonus. Creativity in Cornwall is valuable, and as the talent and outputs are recognised the conditions that create and feed them need to be protected, and rewarded. There should no longer be a requirement or expectation for Cornwall to be cheap as well as fast and good. We’ve all heard the project management Iron Triangle maxim in which one must “pick two”, but delivering on all three is often expected of Cornish businesses – creatives in particular. Remote working has not made location irrelevant if location has a positive influence on the outputs. Being on the edge is no longer a compromise, but a benefit.
Mat Arney is a writer and photographer whose work has been exhibited and featured both in the UK and internationally.