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

Long Beach is My City

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

I am a new CEO launching a dotcom start-up. People frequently ask if we’re going to put down roots in Palo Alto in Silicon Valley. It makes sense. On our last trip to the Bay Area we had dessert with the CFO of eBay, and lunch the following day with a staff from facebook’s incubator. It’s undeniable to ignore the connections that are happening: lunches, coffee, VCs, CEOs, programmers-they’re all there, strategizing, sharing ideas and building the next greatest products that we’ll all be using. But I choose Long Beach.

To catalyze millions of ideas-to be the force multiplier behind people’s work-requires that we foster an environment that encourages innovative and unconventional thinking. To become a revolutionary company, we need to attract the most talented and creative minds in the industry. When I think of creativity and the ingredients that feed innovation, its not linear or predictable but a chaotic blend disparate views and diverse cultures and attitudes. That’s how I see the city of Long Beach.

Of the 65 largest cities in our nation, Long Beach is the most ethnically diverse. We have the largest Cambodian population in the United States. There are nooks tucked here-and-there where one can view art, review books and engage in conversation about every topic imaginable, and a café to satisfy any armchair travelers’ wanderlust, from baba gannouj to tom kha kai, to chicken and waffles. Our music tastes are equally eclectic. We’re the spot for jazz festivals,! rock n roll, Irish jigs, micro-brews and a different kind of humming, grand prix racing.

To me Long Beach is a microcosm of the larger world, and that world is what feeds the imagination. As for neighborhoods, if deep-rooted history is what captures, there are tree-lined streets of Craftsman bungalows and 1927-era Spanish homes. Nothing says modern like a downtown loft with sprawling views of the 372-acre Pacific waterfront. There’s also a tinge of rebelliousness in the city that I find enticing. We’re urban-eclectic, not the rich-and-polished OC, not hip and wealthy like Santa Monica, or dripping in Hollywood glamor like the valley, and I like that. I like walking my dog down the 2-mile parkway, taking language classes at City College and archery on Saturdays. I can Salsa with girlfriends and some day, when I earn my pilots license, I’ll fly my bitty plane out of the Long Beach Airport to Catalina Island. Yes, Palo Alto is dotcom nirvana, but come on, we get 345 days of sunshine per year! Even Silicon Valley can’t top that.

Sent by Alexandra from Long Beach, CA

Smaller mountain towns in either Colorado, Oregon or Montana?

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Strongly considering leaving lovely Madison, WI to return to my laid back western roots and love of mountains. I welcome anyone’s input on smaller to medium sized, affordable mountain/foothill towns in Colorado, Montana or Oregon. Some I have been exploring include Corvallis, Bend, Missoula, Kalispell, Bozeman, Fort Collins, Loveland. I just graduated with my MSW and am hoping to find a town I can a) find a decent paying job in and b) afford to live in on a Social Work salary. I am realizing this rules out many Colorado mountain towns due to extraordinary housing costs.

Ideally I am looking for a community like Madison but with close access to mountains or foothills to hike & bike in. Somewhere that is more liberal, dog & family friendly, nurtures local business (coops, mom & pops vs. national chains/mass condo development), diversity, the arts, and community (festivals, public schools, local gatherings). Does anyone have any experiences living in these areas or suggestions of other areas to check out. Thanks very much for your two cents…

Sent by Christie from Madison, WI

Public Art

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

In Orlando, a mini-controversy over a bridge feature provides an opportunity to answer the question, “Why is public art important?”


Do investments in public art help define who a city is?

Sent by Bob from Orlando