The map below shows the price of land in the New York metropolitan area (via Matt Yglesias) from this fascinating New York Fed study. The premium for land in central Manhattan is nothing less than extraordinary. Land prices rise and fall logarithmically according to their distance from midtown, notes to the study: “A parcel located five miles from the Empire State Building commands a price that is about twice as high as the price of a parcel ten miles away.”
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It’s terrific to see unemployment rate dip below the 10 percent mark. But, unemployment in the Great Reset remains quite a bit deeper than in previous ones, as the NYT’s Catherine Rampell shows. The overall U-6 measure of unemployment – which includes discouraged workers – stands at 16.5 percent.
A close look at the numbers finds some groups are doing far better than others. Men continue to fare substantially worse than women: The unemployment rate for adult men remains 10 percent, while the rate for women is now 7.9 percent.
The effects of the economic crisis continue to be extremely uneven. Unemployment remains much higher for the less educated. The unemployment rate for workers without a high school degree, 15.2 percent, is 50 percent higher than that for workers with a high school diploma, 10.1 percent, and three times higher than for college-educated workers, 4.9 percent.
Unemployment also varies substantially by industry. The unemployment rate for blue-collar workers remains quite high. The unemployment rate for manufacturing workers stands at 13 percent while construction workers face a staggering 24.7 rate. The rate for professional services workers has grown to 11.1 percent, but financial professionals have unemployment of 6.6 percent. The rate for educational professionals stands at 5.5 percent, and that for government employees is 4.3 percent.
Because enrollment is trending upward across the country, especially with community colleges seeing double-digit growth in many states, this news becomes fodder to perpetuate a belief that “higher education benefits in a recession.” Is that the real story?
Even in states that have made higher ed a priority, funding for public colleges and universities is inevitably cut or, in the best case scenario, held flat during a serious economic downturn. And, certainly, there are no new public dollars to invest in a recession. How is this a benefit to higher ed? Furthermore, private institutions have seen their endowments drop over 20 percent on average. Harvard saw a whopping 30 percent decline in its endowment, which translates to a loss of tens of billions of dollars. Benefit?
So, what’s the story then? “People benefit from higher education in a recession.” Higher ed is the central place people turn to in an effort to invest in their life, personally and professionally, and transform their future. Fortunately, colleges make adjustments to preserve academic integrity during a recession, accommodating the numerous people who are making the investment in their education at this time.
Do you think this particular enrollment boom is a decade in the making and indicates a massive transition from a manufacturing job-based economy to a creative economy?
In one of my most recent posts, I wrote about the international graffiti and urban arts festival Under Pressure, and about the pressure that it and many other music festivals have been under with the economic downturn. Cultural initiatives that depended upon bigger, corporate-type sponsors have been feeling the pinch, some festivals just disappearing. While there is community and cultural value embedded in these festivals, by hitching their sails to finance that has disembedded and severely stunted that community’s ability to deliver that value. There was a good chance that Under Pressure wouldn’t make it this year.
Community to the rescue – community of practice that is. Across the region, and beyond provincial borders, grassroots arts organizations have come together to support this gathering. Parties in Toronto to save a festival in Quebec? Why not? As the digital media networks broke down geographical boundaries with respect to the access to cultural interaction and accumulation, cultural affinities are spanning unexpected geographies presenting new opportunities for collaboration.
This is certainly true in the world of DJing and promoting. If an artist is passing through a dense cluster of cities it’s to the benefit of promoters to share costs with respect to travel, or to share the cost of a national booking fee. The Quebec City-Windsor corridor with its clustering of university towns and cities alike is already replete with cost-sharing and collaboration at the grassroots level, but there is room for a big boom there.
Groups like the Grassroots Youth Collaborative in Toronto have begun coalescing the efforts and power of this growing sector. Recently I came across a very interesting paper out of the University of Chicago’s Cultural Policy Center about grassroots scenes and the role that they play in the creative economy ecosystem that was really prescient as well. What lessons can we learn from these informal youth networks as they support each other through financial crisis?
And now, as always, some music.
To put the bubble behind us, we need to place mortgage lenders on a path to settling up with underwater homeowners. One of the few viable ways to do this is for banks to accept the voluntary surrender of deeds and then lease the homes back to their former owners. The former homeowners should then retain a right to purchase their homes back at fair market value, after, say, five years, during which time they would need to get their financial affairs in order.
Daniel Aplert in the New York Times
After writing an article about a local catalyst in a beautiful online publication called Dharma Arts, and especially after this past weekend’s successful House of Paint festival, some thoughts on the function of scenes have coalesced a bit more clearly. Both the occasion of writing the piece and participating in the festival were an opportunity to meditate on the words of Lawrence Rothfield, who spoke at the Martin Prosperity Institute earlier in June at the inaugural Placing Creativity conference. In his presentation about the city of Chicago’s cultural scenes he posited a very interesting hypothesis: that cultural scenes might be more powerful attractors/retainers of talent than creative industries. Seems simple, but this recognition can be a game changer.
The employment paradigm has shifted such that jobs follow talent just as much as talent follows jobs. In both cases, place has become more important because in both cases choosing it has become so fluid – there really has to be something particular about a given place for talent or jobs to settle and stay. An over investment in job creation without a balanced cultural investment can create a bubble/vacuum effect wherein creative class types are drawn in by the prospect of being professionally engaged, but aren’t incentivized to put down roots. Ottawa is an interesting place in that it has “creative class stabilizers” – three levels of government employment and 4 post secondary institutions. Still, even if there is a consistent flow of talent, it might not affect the economy that much in a quantitative way but it will inevitably affect the quality of place. In the pre-digital era connectivity and affinity through institutions like sports clubs, churches, or job related groups seemed to be sufficient, but increasingly these days people are more interested in being engaged as individuals. The flexible accumulation that the media environment has afforded us often means that the diversity of individual interests in a given area outpaces the scope of local institutions.
Local scenes are comprised of individuals who are willing to fill that gap by aggregating interest – usually at a place (read: venue) or series of places. I don’t think that the value or role of these people and these places can be understated within the creative economy ecosystem. Without them, the best that any given place can be is what Steven Johnson would term a “swarm without logic” – a group that could be greater than the sum of its parts but lacks the connectivity to realize it. Without active scenes though, talent can only be narrowly engaged along lines of official employment, and the net benefit of that talent can only be narrowly experienced by the region. Considering the fluidity of talent and jobs, creative industries may be the visible tip of the iceberg that signal security to talented people, whereas creative scenes might represent the larger underside that help catalyze that talent, cross-pollinating the emerging creative economy.
Has any particular scene in your city/town affected your quality of life? How is it related to that place? What type of scene activity would support an ideal employment situation for you? Considering that the aggregation of individual interests outpaces institutional reaction time as it does, how can institutions be more supportive of scenes and help to facilitate the emergent culture that is critical to retaining talent?
“Make no mistake, Jacobs is the hero of this yarn. But in the epilogue, Flint addresses our ever-changing urban dynamics, where Jacobs’ quest for “thoughtful citizen involvement” has morphed into “all-powerful neighborhood residents, who seek conditions to stay exactly as they are and reward politicians who agree with them.”
Embedded below is the talk I’ve given to both community hackers (at Open Web Vancouver) as well as City of Vancouver Staff regarding the opportunities and challenges around open data and the open motion. (Here’s an update on where Vancouver is at.)
For those willing to brave through the presentation (or simply fast forward to the end), one piece I felt is most important is the talk’s last section which outlines what I term “The Bargain” in a reference to the informal contract Clay Shirky says exists between every Web 2.0 site and their users.
The bargain comes last, because it matters only if there is a promise (open and shared data) and a set of tools (applications languages) that are already working together. The bargain is also the most complex aspect of a functioning group, in part because it is the least explicit aspect and in part because it is the one the users have the biggest hand in creating, which means it can’t be completely determined in advance… A bargain helps clarify what you can expect of others and what they can expect of you.
- Clay Shirky in Here Comes Everybody (my italics, page 270)
I believe that in an open city, a similar bargain exists between a government and its citizens. To make open data a success and to engage the community a city must listen, engage, ask for help, and of course, fulfill its promise to open data as quickly as possible. But this bargain runs both ways. The city must do its part, but so, on the flip side, must the local tech community. They must participate, be patient (cities move slower than tech companies), offer help and, most importantly, make the data come alive for each other, policy makers, and citizens through applications and shared analysis.
As a kid born in the early 80s, a young black man, and DJ, when I heard that Michael Jackson died I was floored. It’s really hard to put into words what his run in 80s meant to me and other kids like me. As a DJ, Michael was the ultimate back door, a key that would fit every locked dance floor, to be reached for only in emergencies and handled with great care. As a dancer, when Fred Astaire calls you his heir, there’s not much left to say. What he did with his feet seemed impossible. Sometimes it was.
Never more mystifying was his impossible lean from the Smooth Criminal video (@ approx. 7:15). At first I thought that it was camera tricks, but then I heard that he did it live at shows – no wires, no cables. Just lean. How does a man defy gravity like that live on stage? In the posthumous craze, one of the more interesting bits of information that shook loose was the innovation that made that possible:
Michael invented and patented a special shoe and rig. Google Patent Search provides the details.
Richard has often talked about his interest in music as a “fruit-fly” industry. That is to say that the the study of the music industry is analogous to the scientific study of fruit flies to better understand more complex biological systems. Through studying music we can understand how innovations flow through other creative industries. Musical creatives don’t just innovate musically, but they’re often linked to technological innovation. This is true about individual innovations, from Jimi Hendrix to Grand Master Flash, as well as system wide innovations, as was evidenced by the MP3 revolution. This is just another example of the same from arguably the greatest of all time.
I may be an urbanist with a love for cities, but I am one of those people who get lost a lot. I have trouble reading maps and depend on my GPS. It takes me a few years in any city (or in my own neighborhood for that matter) to intuitively grasp how to get around.
Now this new book,You Are Here: Why We Can Find Our Way to the Moon, but Get Lost in the Mall, by Waterloo University psychologist and behavioral neuroscientist Collin Ellard, explains why. Centuries of development of locational aids have sapped our instinctive ability as a species to find our way around.
- According to a survey of 12,500 people in 13 countries conducted by Nokia, 93 percent of people reported becoming lost on a regular basis. 30 percent blamed their partners. Almost half of respondents admitted to giving wrong directions on purpose.
- One out of 10 people have missed a job interview, an important business meeting, or a flight because they lost their way.
- Men may not ask for directions because they have greater difficulty following them. Women navigate using routes and men navigate using compass orientation.
- A poorly designed you-are-here map can actually make it more difficult for you to find your way than no map at all.
- The top five cities in which residents report becoming lost are (in order) London, Paris, Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Beijing.
Here’s a snippet from Johan Lehrer’s review in the New York Times Book Review.
One of Ellard’s best chapters focuses on urban planning. He starts by picking on an easy target: the massive, concrete public housing projects that were, once upon a time, championed by visionaries like Le Corbusier. (The architect wanted to replace much of central Paris with residential skyscrapers and highways.) Sadly, the modernist dream quickly turned into a grim dystopia, as the inhuman scale and “poor arrangement of space served to break down social networks.” The end result was isolation, litter and crime.
Ellard’s hero is the activist and author Jane Jacobs, who championed wide sidewalks, short city blocks and mixed-use zoning. According to Ellard, the advantage of such a setup is that it creates vibrant streets that reflect the needs of human beings, and not just their cars. Furthermore, because life attracts life — people want public places that are filled with other people — these organic neighborhoods create a positive feedback loop of livable density. We don’t need to print out directions because most of what we need is nearby.
The larger lesson is that the form of an urban space is often more important than its supposed function. Odd as it seems, Ellard writes, “I can predict exactly where you will go based on how the streets are connected together without needing to know that you have set out to, for instance, buy a pair of shoes.” Because our spatial instincts follow a few simple rules, scientists who use “space syntax analyses” are able to envision how a place will be used before it exists.