Archive for October, 2006

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Tue Oct 31st 2006 at 10:02am UTC

To Each His/Her Own Hood?

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

Last month, I asked readers to write in with stories of how they chose the place they live, and what it has meant to the rest of their lives (see original blog entry). The response was phenomenal, and I got to read dozens of stories, some touching, some funny — all of them insightful.

Many of you mentioned neighborhoods as a key part of a location decision. This got me thinking: why not ask about neighborhoods? So that’s what I’m doing now. See, a large part of the new book is about the different types of neighborhoods we live in, from Stroller-Land in the burbs to the Urban Mosaics of our inner cities.

This request is trickier – it’s more subjective, because we’re asking you to evaluate neighborhoods by type. Take a look at the list below. Tell me what you think about how my team and I have grouped different neighborhoods across our country. Tell me how you would define them, in your words. Which ones do you agree with? Disagree? Why? Tell me about any kinds of neighborhoods you think are missing on this list. What hoods would you add to our lists? Move around? How have neighborhoods affected your moves from place to place?

Be brutally honest with me. This stuff can be hard to classify – it’s almost entirely qualitative. I really need your input. Send your stories to:, or post them on the comment section of this entry, or do both. Can’t wait to see what kind of conversation this request generates – thanks as ever!


Below please find a list of neighborhood types and some examples (from our homebase here in metro Washington DC and some other spots around the country) and please add to or edit them when you email to us or post on the blog. Thanks again.

BOBO-BURG: Arlington & Alexandria, VA (Washington DC); Brookine (Boston, MA)

COLLEGE TOWNS: Ann Arbor, MI; Columbia, MO; Flagstaff, AZ

DESIGNER DIGS: Georgetown (Washington DC); Palo Alto (San Jose, CA); LoDo (Denver, CO)

ETHNIC ENCLAVE: Falls Church, VA (Washington, DC); Czech Village (Cedar Rapids, IA)

FAMILY LAND: Potomac, MD; McClean & Fairfax, VA (Washington DC); Bloomfield Hills, Troy (Detroit, MI)

GAY ENCLAVES: Dupont Circle; Takoma Park, MD (Washington DC); West Hollywood (Los Angeles, CA)

HIPSTER HAVEN: U Street, Adams Morgan (Washington DC); Wicker Park, Bucktown (Chicago, IL)

URBAN HOLDOVER: Mt. Pleasant (Washington DC); Hoboken, NJ

URBAN MOSAIC: Columbia Heights (Washington DC); Northern Liberties (Philadelphia, PA)

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Sun Oct 29th 2006 at 8:18am UTC

10,000 Hours Show Wants You!

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

Check out one of the coolest community projects we’ve seen, The 10,000 Hours Show  — a student-led effort to recruit and recognize young volunteers who serve local nonprofits, culminating each spring in a free concert just for volunteers.  As their website says, "You volunteer, you rock."

In Iowa, the organizers, all twenty-something volunteers including our own Amanda Styron, have recognized over 71,000 hours of service in the past three years with concerts by Ben Folds, Guster and Cake.

This year, they are partnering with the United Way of America to help other communities start the program. If you work in student life, the United Way, or another community organization, they would love to hear from you!

To learn more about 10,000 Hours and how to start your own, visit their site or email 10K National Director Mike Brooks.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Oct 26th 2006 at 3:59pm UTC

Unwired: Preparing for the Next Generation @ Work

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

Interesting piece by Richard Leyland over at Leyland offers his thoughts on how members of Generation Y will change the way we work and how managers should ‘manage’ this talent cohort. He looks at their skills, use of technology, and what will NOT work with them. From the column:

"You’ve seen them hunched over a PC, performing bewildering tasks at breakneck speed. You’ve watched with suspicion as they created an online community of friends, blurring the boundaries between ‘real’ friends and those they may never meet.

You took note when MySpace, their chief playground, was sold to Rupert Murdoch for about half a billion dollars.

Now the killer – today’s tech-savvy young people are the office and boardroom faces of tomorrow. We need to understand them and change, if we’re to create an environment where they can thrive.

So here’s what I know about them…"

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Wed Oct 25th 2006 at 9:23am UTC

WSJ Four Part Series on US Manufacturing

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

On October 24th, the Wall Street Journal (sub required) began a four-part series on US Manufacturing. The first piece, by Timothy Aeppel, is titled Still Built on the Homefront. The preface:

“Rumors of the death of U.S. manufacturing have been greatly exaggerated. Even as high-profile manufacturers like American auto makers stumble, a remarkable amount of stuff is still made in the U.S., from construction equipment in North Dakota to high-end ranges in Mississippi, artificial knees in Indiana and pipe organs in Ohio.

While manufacturing represents a relatively small part of the U.S. economy — about 17% of GDP compared with China’s 41% — and the number of plants has dwindled, the U.S. is still by far the world’s largest manufacturer by raw value of the goods produced, $1.79 trillion worth last year, nearly twice its nearest rival, Japan. China produces more of the things most consumers think of as coming out of factories — cellphones, toys, and coffee makers — but the U.S. continues making goods that tend to be more complex, difficult to transport, and time-sensitive.”

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Mon Oct 23rd 2006 at 1:18pm UTC

Two Great Pieces @ The NY Times…

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

Here are two really interesting pieces from the pages of the New York Times (sub required). Randall Stross writes about the importance of distance to investors and new ventures in Silicon Valley — sharing the 20 minute rule (which I heard all about more than twenty years ago when Martin Kenney and I did our orignal project on venture capital and intreviewed Gene Kliener of Kliener Perkins, Donald Valentine of sequioa and Tommy Davis, the founder of the Mayfield Fund.)

The second piece takes a look at residential real estate in a suburb of Kansas City named Olathe. The piece, by Susan Saulny, is titled Rents Bite is Big in Kansas, Too… From the article…

“I think that’s a sign of success,” Mr. Copeland (the Mayor of Olathe) said. “It shows people are willing to pay a lot to live here.”

Susan Sherman, the assistant city manager, said, “It might just be that the location comes with such amenities that they’re willing to spend their hard-earned dollars on it.” She added, “We don’t have mountains or oceans, but we have some of the greatest people.”

Some builders and residents say the growing lack of low-cost housing cannot be viewed as good.

“It’s been unfortunate from our perspective in the last few years to see so many people who’d like to live in Olathe not be able to because the housing prices have gone up so much,” said Matt Derrick, the spokesman for the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City. “We have builders who say, I can’t build housing that my kids could afford to live in. That’s when it really starts to hit home.”

The growth in Olathe through the 1990’s was driven, incidentally, by what was then its affordable housing and by the rapidly developing high-tech industries here, experts said. But, over the years, demand for the area has priced out some long-term residents and newcomers whose wages are moderate to low — mainly the workers in retail and construction, whose numbers have been steadily increasing, too.

The question of balancing growth with prosperity is one of the great challenges facing the US in many locations.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Oct 20th 2006 at 6:42am UTC

Washington DC’s International Nights

Friday, October 20th, 2006

Washington Post writer Ellen McCarthy has a new article where she tags along with creative class types in Washington DC as they head out for a Saturday night. She believes that an open society not only grows the economy, but also makes a place more fun and thus increases quality of life.

Accoring to McCarthy, “That this town constantly attracts newcomers from around the world is certainly as much a boon to our Saturday nights as it is to our collective bottom line. Cultural traditions have been transplanted, remixed and doused with premium vodka at neighborhood bars and mega-clubs around the Beltway.” Enjoy the article.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Oct 19th 2006 at 1:48pm UTC

Aussies Building Creative Economy…

Thursday, October 19th, 2006

The Centre for Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation in Australia has created a gateway for research and analysis of the creative industries in Australia and elswhere. An article at Arts Hub Australia describes the new site and the goals behind it.

Here is the site — Creative Economy — and a brief description, “The site draws on the resources of Australian Policy Online, together with outputs from industry groups, consultants and other researchers and research organisations.” (Hat Tip: Mara W. @ Americans for The Arts)

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Tue Oct 17th 2006 at 6:44pm UTC

Rochon Thinks Big on Jacobs

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

A column by Lisa Rochon of The Globe and Mail explores how best to remember Jane Jacobs. The piece (sub required)

“Jane Jacobs, we miss you. We miss the sound of your deep voice, the way it crackled and stunned a room with wisdom. We miss seeing you in your blue-jean dress, your determined figure bent over a cane. We miss the power of your gaze, shining out from behind your dark-framed glasses.

Jane Jacobs, you wrote the book on how to live with urban dignity. You provided a philosophy that rejected schemes of expressways and impersonal towers, and made us believe in the rough-hewn order of neighbourhoods. You guided and legitimized the work of those fighting poverty, homelessness and the devastation of heritage. You gave us the words to defend self-organized economies and city states.

When you moved to Toronto in 1968, we were quick to claim you as our urban philosopher — as a Canadian citizen, as our Jane. But months have passed since your death on April 25, and little has been done to remember you.

There was an impromptu memorial at Dooney’s Café in the Annex, a local joint in your neighbourhood that you helped to save from the clutches of Starbucks.

And there was gentle send-off at a downtown church organized by your friend John Sewell. But how slow we have been to seriously honour your work, your
influence, your name.

In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared June 28, 2006, Jane Jacobs Day. And there was a memorial at Washington Square, that great place of spontaneous human gatherings, which you helped to save by preventing the lower Manhattan Expressway. There are panels to discuss your work, and author Roberta Gratz has established the Center for the Living City in NYC to promote your ideas about architecture of difference, texture and human scale.

So, Jane, what would you like us to do? Toronto and, indeed, the rest of Canada have been politely, respectfully, almost eerily quiet. Where are the discussion
groups and the think tanks?

Perhaps — given Jacobs’s penetrating insights and knack for observing the dubious intentions of institutions, this is the safest route to follow — and the one that the protocol office at the City of Toronto has embraced. And time has been allowed to drift along. In the summer, Toronto architect Terry Montgomery quietly purchased Jacobs’s house on Albany Avenue in her beloved Annex neighbourhood; renovations have already started. A new kitchen and bathrooms will be inserted and some of the ivy cloaking the front of the house has been cut back to allow for electrical upgrading. The people in the city are moving on. But, something needs to be done to keep our conversation alive with Jacobs.

Best not to contemplate naming a building after Jacobs. Her name could be used to raise the profile of a slightly wonky institution or soften the blow of an ordinary design. “She felt that getting things named after you was a double-edged sword,” her son, Jim Jacobs, says from his home in Toronto. “Better to have your name on a book and if it was no good, then that was your own fault.”

Given Jacobs’s work to stop the Spadina Expressway, some have considered naming the new Lake Shore Boulevard after Jacobs if, in fact, the Gardiner Expressway comes down. “That would be terrible,” Jim Jacobs protests. “Jane thought that the Gardiner should not be replaced with any kind of big boulevard when it came down. She had observed that when you put up a new highway, it takes months to fill up with traffic. If you did the process in reverse, and shut down each lane one by one, the traffic would go elsewhere.”

To be sure, a physical memorial — after a war, a natural disaster or the death of a great cultural hero such as Glenn Gould — helps people remember. The problem is that it limits Jane to one neighbourhood, whereas her ideas spread from her stoop in the Annex to the world. I prefer the idea of a travelling marketplace, or naming an annual Jane Jacobs Day in which children of all ages are taught some of the fundamentals of her thinking.

Rather than a bench or a fountain or a park named in her honour, I would hope that the city might sit down with urban visionaries and Jacobs’s family and friends to hammer out a way to keep her ideas alive. Though a Jane Jacobs annual prize for individuals was started in 1997, a new award could be inaugurated for specific grassroots projects from anywhere across the country or, indeed, the world. Or there could be a memorial fund to help one small slice of the urban fringe find a sense of community. Or maybe funds in the name of Jane Jacobs could be donated by the city to start building bread-baking ovens in many parks, just as Jutta Mason, a Jane Jacobs Prize past recipient, managed remarkably for Dufferin Grove Park.

What matters is an initiative that helps us to carry on learning from Jacobs — to allow us to plunge back into her texts. A centre dedicated to her ideas and community activism could do that. A centre for urban ecology is an idea being seriously floated by her long-time friends and colleagues Margie Zeidler and Mary Rowe. Watch for it: The centre could be a fitting and natural extension of Jacobs’s work.

Jane Jacobs lived for 30 years in New York City, during which time she was imprisoned twice and led the revolt against the modern urban orthodoxy preached by New York’s senior bureaucrats. She saw her nemesis, omnipresent planner Robert Moses, only once.

It was at a hearing to protest against the planned lower Manhattan Expressway, which was to have its entrance ramp right on the site of Washington Square. Moses was appalled that a group of local citizens would dare oppose his vision for running a highway through the inner city: “There is nobody against this — NOBODY, NOBODY, NOBODY, but a bunch of, a bunch of MOTHERS!” And then he stomped out.

Jacobs left the United States in 1968 to settle in Toronto. She wrote her books from the quiet of her spare room at the back of the second storey. Masses of tomatoes grew on her roof. Ivy covered the front of her house, and goldenrod grew with luxurious abandon in the back and the front yards.

She rallied the troops and went on the barricades for many causes in Toronto. David Crombie remembers the moral support he received from Jane during his tenure as Toronto’s mayor. “She gave us ideas. She gave us a sense of activism to get those ideas moving and, what was most powerful of all, she was an ethicist — a mother superior. For her, city building was an ethical enterprise.”

Rather than give in to a city of anonymous, high-rise towers, Crombie pushed hard during the 1970s for innovative in-fill housing in the downtown. On one occasion, Jacobs turned up at Crombie’s house around midnight, along with geographer Jim Lemon and other friends. They had helped to pull down some of the barricades around a site designated for a pair of high-rise towers at Dundas and Sherbourne, and had stopped by the mayor’s house to let him know they were on his side.

Jane Jacobs died at the age of 89 years old, leaving unfinished one of her latest, modest projects: a short biography of the human race. It’s time now for the City of Toronto to borrow some of her brave thinking and come up with something powerful and meaningful, so that we never forget her.”

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Tue Oct 17th 2006 at 9:30am UTC

BMW Builds Dream Factory for Idea Flow

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

A new BusinessWeek piece explains how BMW harnesses creativity from workers throughout its new factory. I learned this long ago from visiting the factory where my father worked in Newark, Victory Optical, and in my studies of Toyota and other Japanese transplants with Martin Kenney in the 1980s.

But BMW has taken this even a step further and created an ‘open’ workplace for all. From the piece,

“Just about everyone working for the Bavarian automaker — from the factory floor to the design studios to the marketing department — is encouraged to speak out. Ideas bubble up freely, and there is never a penalty for proposing a new way of doing things, no matter how outlandish… From the moment they set foot inside the company, workers are inculcated with a sense of place, history, and mission. Individuals from all strata of the corporation work elbow to elbow, creating informal networks where they can hatch even the most unorthodox ideas for making better Bimmers or bosting profits”


Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Mon Oct 16th 2006 at 12:37pm UTC

Austin’s Creative Fortunes

Monday, October 16th, 2006

On November 7th, Austin voters will have a chance to back a $31.5 million proposal that would fund community and cultural programs. In order to garner support for the measure, advocates have gone for the voter’s stomaches.

According to the AP story, “Asian food restaurants are distributing campaign messages tucked inside their fortune cookies… The fortunes bear a typical prophecy or personality observation on one side and the campaign message on the other: “Vote Nov. 7 for Prop 4/Invest in Austin’s Creative Economy.” More than 300,000 of the special cookies have been distributed to about 200 restaurants. Now that is creative advocacy!