I read your Salt Lake Tribune article when it came out, and read it again through this blog. Fascinating read both times. I wonder if your “ecosystem on the fringes” is similar to the “adjacent possible” concept in biology and now used in sociology. The idea would be that the more environments, people, and ideas you have in your adjacent possible world, the more opportunities you will have to spread into that ever-expanding “adjacent possible”. If your adjacent possible tidal pool (to wear out this biology metaphor completely) is limited to your own bathtub, then we of course know the result: not very tasty bath water.