Who's Your City?, by Richard Florida
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Archive for August, 2009

Kelowna, BC Over-hyped?

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Aside from Okanagan Lake and slightly better shopping than the other BC “K” town Kamloops (or as the locals call it “The Loops”) this place is rather overrated. Due to all the time shares, there really isn’t an onus toward new developments. I still have to go to Vancouver to see a specialist, and what constitutes as “bike paths” are just a lane along HWY 97 next to heavy traffic.

Sent by Crystal from Kelowna, British Columbia

Portland, OR

Monday, August 31st, 2009

We are considering very seriously to move to Portland, OR and we could not find any information on this site. We appreciate any comments on Portland, OR for 1) school (middle), 2) house affordablility, and 3) manufacturing jobs.

Thank you for your great help!

Sent by Kerry from Pittsburgh, PA

The Heart of the Ottawa Valley

Monday, August 17th, 2009

Nestled on the shore of the mighty Ottawa River, Pembroke is the largest regional centre between Ottawa and North Bay. Just an hour and a half from Canada’s capital, it has a unique, rich cultural heritage, as it was settled in the early 1800s by tree prospectors looking for tall pines to use as masts for her Majesty’s fleet of tall ships. That exploration brought people from England, Ireland, Scotland, Poland, France and Germany – and they brought with them their unique music and dance – particularly, the easily portable fiddle. Today, that music rings throughout the city every Labour Day Weekend at the Old Time Fiddling and Step Dancing Competition that attracts musicians and afficionados of traditional music, from all over Canada and the U.S.

Pembroke is unique in Canada, and local people speak with a “Valley” accent, a mix of the first settlers languages. The creative talent is amazing in this area, and with the addition of broadband, it means that many more of our youth are choosing to stay home, while able to work anywhere in the world from their laptops. As a regional centre, there has been huge infrastructure investment recently (for a city with a population of 15,000 and a CMA of 74,000) Algonquin College is getting a new campus starting in 2010; the hospital has almost doubled in size and is now a regional health care centre with telecommunications link to CHEO and the Ottawa Heart Institute; the Superior Court House has undergone major expansion and award winn! ing reno vations; and the French School Board has built a new K-12 school and community centre.It’s a small, friendly city, a national Communities in Bloom winner, and one of the best places in Canada to call home!

Sent by Susan from Pembroke, Ontario

Doing Business in Pitt County

Monday, August 17th, 2009

Sent by Jonathan from Greenville, NC


Monday, August 10th, 2009

morning-view-1If you appreciate and enjoy a simple, active lifestyle, Sudbury is the place to be. 4 seasons of events, sports and culture make it a vibrant small city on the edge of the boreal forest. Hiking, fishing, boating, canoeing, climbing, skiing, snowmobiling are all accessible fromj your back door. The landscape is stunningly beautiful, contrary to popular belief. The photo shows the view from my backyard, on Long Lake, which is a 10 minute drive to the main shopping district in town. There are hundreds of similar small lakes and rivers in the city limits where clusters of suburban and rural communities develop. Laurentian University is located overlooking gorgeous Ramsay Lake and attracts students from around the world to its small classes and bilingual programmes.

The downtown is not great now, but is being revitalized with a new million school of architecture opening in 2013. Spinoffs from this bold move will be fantastic as young people bring new ideas and energy to these old downtown streets. The city has many significant cultural and government institutions including a major research hospital, Science North and Dynamic Earth science centres, the world-class Neutrino Laboratory, a very important film festival and thriving arts, music and theatre scene. A small food scene is emerging, as well as a strong environmental and ecological approach to innovation, technology and tourism. I relocated here from Toronto to be closer to family and do not miss the big city at all, especia lly when I can go for a swim or a ski on the lake at 6pm after getting home from work, or paddle my canoe to be closer to the loons on the water.

Sent by Pierre from Sudbury, Ontario

Birmingham, AL: Getting Its Groove Back

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

There are tremendous transformations happening in Birmingham, and even in the midst of a pending county financial collapse and federal trial against our mayor, most folks around here tend to see these as positives, in that these political collapses represent the last gasp of the deeply entrenched 1950s mentality. So, if you don’t mind, I want to share JUST A FEW of the awesome movements taking place here:

I live in the heart of downtown Birmingham, AL, with my partner of 11 years. Our loft apartment is in a converted 1920s-era department store, in what used to be the retail district.

Two blocks to our north is the financial district, and about four blocks to our south is the new central park- the Rail Road Reservation Park- currently under construction.

A new minor league baseball field has been proposed to be constructed adjacent to this park, and ground broke July 22 on an expansion to the convention complex on the northern edge of the City Center:

While the benefits of these projects will be felt a decade or so from now, more immediate and tangible transformations are underway. At this moment, there are hundreds of apartments and condominiums under construction in the City Center (a.k.a. downtown) adding to the thousands already here, and downtown’s population continues to climb. If 35203 has lost more than 6% of its population since 2000, it would be from HUD housing project declines. Our HOPE VI development called Park Place has proven to be phenomenally successful. Skyscrapers from the 1910s-1930s continue to be converted into housing, too.While Birmingham remains Alabama’s largest (some say only) city, we do continue to have a population drain to the suburbs. With an African-American population of 73%, Birmingham continues to “intimidate” traditional Alabamians as a place to live. However, we are beginning to attract more-and-more college graduates, young professionals and upper-middle class African American families from such places as Atlanta, Chicago, Norfolk, Cleveland and Milwaukee. I know, because I meet them every day. At least within Birmingham, this infusion of new blood is seen as a positive. Here, in the core of the region, there are tremendous forces converging to transmute this place from the inside out. A few of the highlights:

Children’s Hospital has begun a 5 million, LEED-certified expansion project in the Medical District, a sprawling, interconnected complex covering over 80 city blocks, which is only 6 blocks south of the new Railroad Park:










These are only a handful of the projects taking place in Birmingham’s City Center. While 35203 remains the corporate capitol of Alabama, more and more “urbanistas” like my partner & myself are settling in, to make this OUR HOME- OUR NEIGHBORHOOD.

Also, there are groups that I belong to, that are coordinating efforts to rebrand the eastern neighborhoods into centers of creative production. The major groups are:






…AND, within the Greater Birmingham Area:




I thought you might be intrigued with the exciting new directions this “Rust Belt” city is taking!!

Sent by Todd from Birmingham, AL