Archive for November, 2007

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Wed Nov 28th 2007 at 11:26am UTC

Our Return to Noosa in April of 2008

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

Richard and members of our team just spent a great week in Noosa (see more here) and we are now preparing for our team to return there in April to work with community members. There has been a lot of email traffic already about the shire’s path toward authentic, sustainable economic growth in the Creative Economy and we are looking forward to more great dialogue on the opportunities and challenges ahead. The last week only confirmed that the people of Noosa are thoughtful and intelligent and we look forward to working with (and hearing from) more citizens and leaders in Noosa during our CCLP in April.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Wed Nov 28th 2007 at 7:38am UTC

Connectivity

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

Jim Russell (guesting over at Where Blog, check out his own blog here) makes a very good point:

Globalization, often mischaracterized as the destruction of geography, redefines a place in terms of connectivity. You can map these relationships and easily comprehend how each city has its own profile. A city’s global network is how I would define a place …

This paper by Peter Taylor and Robert Lang examines the connections between global cities finding that:

U.S. cities overall—and particularly non-coastal cities—are generally less globally connected than their European Union and Pacific Asian counterparts. … Chicago is the only high ranking U.S. city not located in a coastal state.  While important service connections exist among certain U.S. cities and particular global regions, U.S. cities are more strongly linked to other U.S. cities than to cities around the globe. New York is the only U.S. city with more non-U.S. cities than U.S. cities in its top ten list of strongest global connections. Only three non-U.S. cities make Miami’s top 10 list, for example, while Pittsburgh’s list contains none. Even the most globally-connected U.S. cities are more locally oriented than cities in the EU.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Tue Nov 27th 2007 at 11:07pm UTC

The Divider

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

Joel Kotkin is up to his old tricks, trying to draw a false divide between “family friendly” communities and those oriented to the “young and restless, the ‘creative class’, and the so-called ‘yuspie’–the young urban single professional” in his words. I’ve read this same article from Kotkin at least ten times now.

First off, it’s always important to point out that Kotkin loves to argue with himself. Just have a look at his book, The New Geography where he goes overboard in extolling the virtues of urban centers for the very same reasons he now criticizes them.

But the real issue is that there is no divide here. The best cities and the best regions offer something for everyone. Look, nuclear families with children under 18 in the household account for less than a quarter of all households. Single people make up more than 50 percent. Gary Gates’ detailed research has shown lots of gay couples resemble heterosexual married couples, lots of others have kids, and that the gay and lesbian community is coming more and more to resemble America broadly and is growing most rapidly in many of Kotkin’s preferred places.

Kotkin mentions married people are more successful than single people.  Perhaps.  But Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell and Mark Cuban were mighty successful BEFORE they were married. Many entrepreneurs have to front-load their careers, as I argued in Rise. They have to work extremely hard to make it, and thus postpone marriage. Is Kotkin implying regions should not want these kinds of entrepreneurial front-loaders. I hope not. And of course they built their businesses in communities like Seattle, Austin and the San Francisco Bay Area, just the sort of life-style meccas, Kotkin argues against.

I could go on and on, but I simply want to point out that I covered all of this in Rise (a quick excerpt after the jump, along with a useful table).  I’ll have much more to say on all of this in Who’s Your City where we rank communities across five key life-stages – single, young professional, married with children, empty-nester, and retiree.

I’d like to write more, and provide even more specifics and data, but I’m rushing to catch the plane home from Australia. I’ll try to follow with more later. But let me add just one last thing.

How about a little wager to make things interesting? Let’s have a bet on which city-regions will perform best over the next decade measured by per capita income, innovations, and growth in wealth. I take my creativity index regions – San Fran, Austin, Seattle, Boston, Washington DC, plus NY and LA.  Globally, I’ll take London, Toronto, Vancouver, Amsterdam and Stockholm.  Joel can have his favorite places. I’ve made this offer to Joel before and I’ll make it again. I’m putting my money down now.  Any takers?

UPDATE: Arnold Kling (long an inspiration to me as a blogger) writes:

I’ll take Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Fairfax, …whoa, there–you said regions?
That doesn’t leave me much. Given that there are suburban enclaves as
well as urban hip zones in all of these regions, maybe this is a silly
argument.

Yes, that`s exactly my point. They are enclaves within broader regions.  Google runs its bus from San Francisco to its Silicon Valley headquarters for precisely this reason. My wife and I both commuted from Northwest DC to Northern Virginia. As I wrote in Rise, great regions are really federations of great neighborhoods and communities offering something for all sorts of different kinds of people. Family people who work in finance can commute from Silicon Valley to San Fran, while those who do government related work can commute from NoVa to downtown DC.  Gays, singles, Dinks and what not can do the reverse. It`s not either-or, it`s both.

A woman from Minneapolis that I interviewed put the age issue in perceptive. She originally came to Minneapolis as a young single because of the lifestyle it offered. She liked being able to engage in active outdoor recreation with other young singles in Minneapolis’ fabulous park system and being able to walk from her house to the local nightspots. She never thought it would be a good place to have a family and raise kids. But when she got married and had children she was more than pleasantly surprised to find that many of the same lifestyle amenities she enjoyed while she was single–the parks and walkable neighborhoods–were even more attractive to her as a married person and new parent ….

In summer 2001, there was a big hubbub in Pittsburgh over a list America’s 25 most “child-friendly cities.” The commotion was over the fact that Pittsburgh, which has always seen itself as a family town, ranked thirteenth. Of the 12 cities that ranked above it, all but two also ranked in the top 25 on the Creativity Index. Three of the top five cities were also among those with the fewest children per capita—San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon. Interestingly all of the top 5 kid-friendly cities—Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, New York and San Francisco also ranked highly on the Gay Index.

While some might see this as a contradiction, (How can gay cities be family-friendly?), for me the connection is simple. Cites that offer high-quality lifestyle amenities to some groups are likely to view quality of place in general as being very important. It’s analogous to companies adopting innovative customer-oriented business practices: the best companies tend to get it right across the board. The best cities like the best companies do it all, offering something for everybody.

Child-Friendly Cities are also Leading Creative and Gay Regions

Rank

Region

Child-Friendly

Score

Creativity Index

Gay Index

1

Portland OR

A+

16

20

2

Seattle

A+

5

8

3

Minneapolis

A

11

31

4

New York

A

9

14

5

San Francisco

A

1

1

6

Boston

A-

3

22

7

Denver

A-

13

18

8

Fort Worth*

B+

10

9

9

Houston

B+

7

10

10

San Diego

B+

4

3

11

Silicon Valley**

B

1

1

12

Dallas

B

10

9

13

Pittsburgh

B

36

48

14

St. Louis

B

31

45

15

Cleveland

B

30

43

16

Chicago

B

15

26

17

Philadelphia

B

17

33

18

Phoenix

C+

19

16

19

Los Angeles

C

12

4

20

Miami

C

29

2

21

Tampa

C

26

19

22

Washington DC

C

8

13

23

Baltimore**

C-

8

13

24

Detroit

C-

39

46

25

Atlanta

C-

14

7

Source: Rise of the Creative Class

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Tue Nov 27th 2007 at 6:25am UTC

Rise of China’s Cities

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

Heffy

Over at The Prospect, Rob Gifford writes (via New Economist):

In the US, there are nine cities with more than 1m inhabitants. In China, there are 49. You can be travelling across China, arrive in a city that is twice the size of Houston, and think: I’ve never even heard of this place. … The new Route 312—which runs all the way from Shanghai to the western border with Kazakhstan—is part of the change, dramatically cutting the journey time for people and goods going to Nanjing, Shanghai and the coast. The spread inland of factories and companies in search of lower costs has helped too, as have remittances from migrants working near the coast. This growing wealth is in turn changing some of the patterns of inland migration. Shanghai is still the promised land for migrant peasants, but there are now more mini-promised lands: regional capitals such as Hefei, or other cities further inland, such as Xi’an and Lanzhou, to which people are travelling to find work because there is now work there. For the first time, some factories on the coast have a labour shortage, and one reason is that people can now find jobs (albeit not so well paid) in China’s interior. This emergence of the inland cities is actually a re-emergence. The countryside has always been poor. But for centuries Chinese cities were far more prosperous than their counterparts elsewhere in the world. The government is doing everything to encourage it. … Either way, the party in Hefei, as throughout China, knows that the market economy could be its salvation; the party also knows that the inequalities thrown up by the new economy could be its downfall.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Mon Nov 26th 2007 at 7:07am UTC

Urbanophobia

Monday, November 26th, 2007

David Olive of the Toronto Star coins a new term for the “disdain leaders in senior levels of government have for cities” – and it’s a very good one. “North America is unique in its traditional denigration of cities,” he writes, adding that: “The phenomenon is especially pronounced in Canada …” Boy, the America’s senior leadership seems to really revile it’s cities too. But one thing is for sure, Canada’s urban journalists are a whole lot better than their U.S. counterparts. Come to think of it: Are there any urban journalists writing for major U.S. dailies?

The full story is here.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Mon Nov 26th 2007 at 6:13am UTC

Class and the Democratic Primaries

Monday, November 26th, 2007

Chris Bowers who has emerged as one of the most interesting analysts of American electoral politics, in particular charting the reasons why Obama’s faltered – weighs in on this key issue.

While progressive creative class types skew non-Christian, skew high income, and <><>self-identified liberal, the largest connection between them will be that they have at least four-year degrees. In fact, education might be one of the largest class divides in this country, surpassing even most differences in income levels. It difficult to expect more detailed, psychographic information simply from exit polls, but determining how different classes in America are voting would not only provide more information on American elections, but on America itself.

The entire post is well worth reading

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Mon Nov 26th 2007 at 3:38am UTC

Creative Feedback

Monday, November 26th, 2007

Saturday’s column is attracting lots of attention. My quick perusal reveals that it was the 4th most e-mailed and the 11th most popular as of Sunday.

It’s received a ton of comments and feedback especially over at the Globe and Mail, here. Around the blogosphere, here’s what Mark Kuznicki, Peter Gordon (Peter I’ll be digging into the issues of labor and real estate markets you mention in Who’s Your City?), and Steve at the Most Important Element have to say. I also recieved a ton of e-mails which is great – some samples after the jump.

I value criticism and find that I learn the most from my critics. So let me respond to the two main lines of criticism surfacing here. The first is something I’ve grown used to, another round of hemming and hawing about gays and growth, including someone who actually links to an old article by Steven Malanga that has been throroughly debunked, here and here. For those so inclined, here is a longish paper with Kevin Stolarick and Charlotta Mellander where we dig into competing theories of what drives economic development.

The second line of criticism is more interesting. It zeros in on what some see as an alleged dichotomy between my theory of the creative class and the notion that every single human being is creative. Actually these constructs are not at odds at all, rather they are one in the same.  Right now 35-40 percent of us have the good fortune to work in occupations where we are paid to do creative and at times fulfilling work.  That does not mean than the rest of us are not creative. Rather, the key is to continuously expand the boundaries of the”creative class” by tapping and harnessing this untapped reservoir of creativity. The creative class is the first class that is a universal one, meaning that it can extend to a much broader segment of the population. This is a central issue of class analysis, and one that vexed Marx among others (who saw the proletariat as a universal class). It’s something I’ve been thinking about since graduate school. I outline this in both Rise and Flight. In the preface to the Australian edition of Rise, Terry Cutler sees my contribution on this score quite clearly, writing that my most fundamental idea is that the key to economic prosperity lies in “stoking the creative furnace that lies deep within every human being.”  An abridged version of my thinking on the matter is here.

Your opening passages in your recent column struck a chord: Like yourself, I would spend the odd Saturday with my dad at a local chemical local factory in Toronto that he worked out of. Recalling those days, I was quite in awe of how my father, an Italian immigrant with limited formal education, rose to a senior professional level in a very complex industry. Most telling for me was how he would describe with pride the times he was invited to participate in project teams that were mandated to solve major technical problems and identify efficiency gains. My father, much like yours, was a bit of an artist himself, and I knew how important it was for him to feel that he was making a contribution beyond the day-to-day. Personal histories aside, I think that you have tapped into a very important facet of economic performance, especially in this era, that of broader engagement of all of our ‘creative class’. I spent most of my post-graduate work exploring the link between more open, participatory work forms (now termed ‘engagement’) and economic performance. From a macro perspective, as you’ve cited in the case of Japan, there appears to be a strong relationship between mobilizing knowledge and intelligence and economic performance. However, the lack of interest in pursuing this more broadly in the US and Canada is a bit puzzling. There are examples of firms doing a better job at leveraging the creative potential of most of its people, but these are likely the exceptions. From my experiences in the private sector, not-for-profit, and more recently in the public sector, we seem to be missing out on this opportunity. With a projected shortage of key skills in the coming years, we will no doubt be hearing more about the dilemma around innovation deficits. The richness in perspectives and thinking that can be better tapped into from our existing workforce seems to be a way to partially address this gap.  There is an incredible range of creativity in our progressively more diverse population, especially in the GTA, that I am absolutely convinced will be a critical to our future success, and I hope to be able to steward some of these opportunities. I will definitely stay tuned. Thanks for your insights.

I’ve been a huge fan of your work for the past couple of years, because of your support of creative pursuits but also because of something that you articulated in your weekend article where you argued that creativity is NOT limited to a small group.  I have friends who are singers and writers and as someone who has always been known for my creativity – I’ve gotten into arguments with them wherein I’ve argued that the reason I’ve been so successful in my career is because I’ve been able to add creative flair to an office. Athough I’ve only had desk jobs my modus operandi in each organization has aways been an attempt to try and inject a bit of creativity into my job and organization.

I read with interest over the summer about your arrival in Toronto, our luring of you from the U.S. to U of T and most recently, your first articles/ impressions in the Globe. Delighted to read your article this weekend on creativity. I’m sure that as part of your early orientation of the city, you will have read the recent reports about the new mapping of diabetes and how Toronto is the epicentre of the disease, seemingly worldwide. Also, its links to urban design and poverty.  It would be wonderful is you could apply some of your creative expertise to this multi-facited challenge.

I enjoyed your column in Saturday’s GLOBE AND MAIL. on creative energy.  I think you‘re quite correct that every person, whatever his/her job or state in life, has creative potential, and that a society greatly restricts its collective possibilities when it envisages this potential as limited to people with advanced educations. Perhaps you’re already familiar with the work of Bernard Lonergan, but I’ll flag it here just to make sure.  Lonergan is a prominent Canadian philosopher/theologian who died in 1984.  … The best-known of these works is INSIGHT: A STUDY OF HUMAN UNDERSTANDING, first published in 195 …The book begins with Aristotle’s claim that to be human is to be curious.  Lonergan then delineates various forms of the “insights” that satisfy this curiosity (though always just partly, since no answer ever makes all questioning cease).  Chapters 6 and 7 are devoted to “common sense” (by contrast with “theoretical”) questions and insights; and I when I read your column, I immediately thought of it as an excellent illustration of what Lonergan discusses in those chapters.  I mention the chapters in case you would ever find it useful to have a philosophical study that backs up in great detail the points you were making on Saturday. … FYI, Lonergan and Jane Jacobs were mutual admirers.
Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Sun Nov 25th 2007 at 4:02am UTC

India and China

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

Rock

China is witnessing a musical explosion.

As she would anywhere in the world, Karen O of the arty New York rock band the Yeah Yeah Yeahs strode onto a festival stage here last month in costume, looking like a wild, futuristic harlequin in her cape of silver wings and blue-and-green striped tights. Shouting to 10,000 mud-soaked fans who shouted her lyrics right back at her, she thanked them in gasps of Mandarin: “Xie xie ni!”A couple of days earlier the Brooklyn rapper Talib Kweli was at a gleaming new club across town. And last Sunday, Linkin Park, a group of rap-rock titans with worldwide sales of 45 million, played in Shanghai to a sold-out stadium crowd of 25,000. They are among the latest in a growing tide of Western acts hoping to crack the vast new entertainment market of China.

India is seeing continued migration to its cities.

These passengers are also part of a great migration that is changing the world. Goldman Sachs, which has published projections about the Indian economy, predicts that 31 villagers will continue to show up in an Indian city every minute over the next 43 years — 700 million people in all. This exodus, with a similar one in China, helped push the world over a historic threshold this year: the planet, for the first time, is more urban than rural.

Both from the Sunday Times (sub req).

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Sat Nov 24th 2007 at 4:20am UTC

Every Single Human Being is Creative

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

My new Globe and Mail column is out.

I recalled hose Saturdays recently when I had my hair cut in Toronto. It turned out that the hairdresser, a stylish young man in his late 20s or early 30s, was once a resident of Birmingham, an upscale suburb of Detroit that I knew well because my wife lived there when we met.  Without thinking, I said, “My wife used to get her hair done in Birmingham; what salon did you work in?”  “I wasn’t a hairstylist then, man. I worked for General Motors,” he said.  “Really?” I said, trying to dig myself out of a hole. “What plant did you work at?” “Plant?” came his reply. “I didn’t work in a factory — I’m a mechanical engineer and I worked on new product development.”

My jaw dropped. This man had quit a high-paying job in a good company so he could cut people’s hair. He had left the creative class because it wasn’t creative enough for him and had gone into a service industry to express his creativity.

The rest is here.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Nov 23rd 2007 at 7:36am UTC

Disneyfication of Toronto?

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

Distillerydistrict

Move Smartly, a Toronto neighborhood and real estate blog, worries about the future of the city’s Distillery District.