Who's Your City?, by Richard Florida
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Archive for November, 2008

Not Just Beer Anymore

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Milwaukee, WI shares a similar past to many rust belt cities in Chipitts but holds a very different future. In 1999, Milwaukee’s Downtown Master Plan accounted for the Creative Class when addressing many standard issues in city planning. John Norquist, now head of the Congress for New Urbanism, was the mayor at them time. He had a vision for Milwaukee’s transformation from a post-industrial economy to an innovative based economy. We are beginning to see the benefits. Our population is increasing, there has been a surge in the art scene, two independent radio stations which feature local music now operate, we are a college town with over 70,000 students, Milwaukee is poised to become a leader in fresh water technologies and there seems to be no end in sight for my growth and opportunity.

While Milwaukee is not a major financial or tech center, it is still impressive that the city has transformed so quickly and relatively painlessly. I love the quality of life and the sense of community in Milwaukee. It is a city that celebrates its past with an eye towards the future. You can find a new best friend while listening to a umpa band in the Old German Beer Hall or have Coriander Crusted Moonfish, Cilantro Pesto Noodles, Julienne Vegetables and Orange Buerre Blanc for dinner at Coast overlooking Lake Michigan. Milwaukee is a city you can get lost in or it is a city you can get rooted in. It depends on the type of person you are. Milwaukee is in a perfect balance of old and new right now. The chic is next to the shabby. You can go to a bar and see young professionals and blue collar workers both drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon. Milwaukee is in a unique state of flux between where it was and where it is going. I am 22, a civil engineer, and an urban planner. I grew up in Milwaukee. Milwaukee will also be home. If I need to play in a larger pond Chicago is just down the road.

Sent by Jason from Milwaukee

My City is Fredericton

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

chet_whoscity.jpgI went to UofT. Lived in Toronto for many years. Built a successful creative career and a good network. Then realized there was something about living in the urban metropolis that for me got in the way: a lack of the time and energy to think “outside the box” and be innovative. So I took my shoulders out of my ears and moved myself to Fredericton, New Brunswick. Chosen as one of the seven most intelligent cities in the world, for two years straight, more than a third land in the creative class. The art community is vibrant with globally recognized artists and writers, the IT community is top notch, and the city pays for wifi across large quandrants of the city. Five minutes to work and five minutes home makes for the time to get out into nature to contemplate and solve the problems of my work. Art galleries, professional theatre, a beautiful university campus… and all the charm that Maritime life brings. People engage each other, and you can still do business on a handshake. It’s easy for Torontonians to write off the smaller regions of Canada, and not pay attention to what’s going on in Atlantic Canada. But it was here, in New Brunswick (which even surprised me) where many amazing globally-proliferated inventions occurred, like SCUBA, thermal pane windows, and IPTV (internet protocal television.) And despite the economic woes of 2008, employment is actually rising, with continuing labor shortages in the IT sector. Programmers are in big demand. The downside? Getting to the US on a direct flight. Got to go through Montreal or Toronto first.

Sent by Chet from Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada