Who's Your City?, by Richard Florida
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Archive for the ‘Australia’ Category

Melbourne vs Vancouver vs Portland???

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Hi there. My husband and I are tossing up between Melbourne/Vancouver/Portland as a next possible long-term move (in the next couple of years). Each has pros and cons it seems, and we tend to go round and round in circles, never quite sure which city is the best choice for us. So I thought why not put the question to all you intrepid globe-trotters out there who may have experienced one or more of these cities to ask what you think? I summarise below what my husband and I think distinguishes these cities based on their perceived pros/cons – I welcome your opinion on whether you agree or not with these assumptions:

MELBOURNE PROS – Progressive and open towards difference; Curious and enjoy debate; Relatively low crime; Pedestrian friendly and great public transport; Cultural/literary scene; Good job opportunities (our backgrounds are in public sector and writing/ psychology).

CONS – Major water and sustainability issues; Rising crime?; Anti-Indian/Muslim sentiment?; Expensive rental options.

VANCOUVER PROS – Progressive and open towards difference; Pedestrian friendly with great public transport; Relatively low crime; OK economy/jobs.

CONS – Too politically correct/afraid of conflict and debate; Tame to point of slightly boring?; Expensive rental options; High cost of living; Cultural/literary scene not as good as Melbourne/Portland?

PORTLAND PROS – Progressive; Pedestrian friendly and great public transport; Great cultural/literary scene; Low crime; Good cheap organic produce; Rental options cheaper than Melbourne/Vancouver?

CONS – No jobs; Culturally homogenous by comparison

Sent by Kaye


Friday, October 30th, 2009

Perth is physically a beautiful city. The outdoor landscape is gorgeous, it’s clean, the beaches are stunning and the river is magnetic. It’s not very hilly but there are some lovely rural areas close to the city. The lifestyle is laid back. There is plenty to do but you have to seek it out. My main criticism is that it lacks the energy and vibe of other cities; in winter, it’s closed. It’s alive in summer. In winter, everyone stays home. It’s called the ‘nanny state’ as the shops close at 6 pm, no drinking in the streets or after midnight, and there are loads of rules. The people tend to be judgemental of anyone enjoying themselves over the age of 30. There are limited outlets for older people who want to have fun. It’s great for bringing up a family or spending your adolescence at the beach. For employment, other than mining and resources, it is a long hard road to your ambition. There are limited avenues for publishing work; getting any freelance business up and running is a major achievement. The creative fields are generally underpaid.

Sent by Robin from Perth, Western Australia

Something’s not quite right

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

Don’t get me wrong, I love Melbourne. I love its little alleyways with the surprise of gorgeous busy cafes. I love the public transportation (most of the time). I love how the parks and natural. I love its quirks.

But something just doesn’t fit me and never has. Almost as if I’ve married the wrong woman. I love big cities and Melbourne is big enough but feels like it’s on the fringes of the world. It’s also too flat(!) and the natural vegetation aro und here tends towards the dry and dusty the further out you get. I’m more of a hills, forests, ocean kind of girl, really!

Not just that but I feel a little as though once you get out of the city centre, just like anywhere in Australia, there’s a problem of ghettoisation. Ethnic clumps (including WASP ones), areas where there’s only one kind of trendy arty person, rich areas, poor areas. It’s better than Sydney for example, but it gives me pause. I’m of Sri Lankan origin, bisexual, a doctor, I want to raise a family one day and have a house and garden, I want to live close to the city… not all of these things fit and if they do I feel like it is only because of my earning potential- in which case I end up with all the rich yuppies.

Not to mention the lack of support that the government has been known to give ethnic minorities, immigrants, refugees, gay people… the conservatism of the general population is at odds with my own core values.

I’m scared to move because I don’t k now that anywhere will be any different. Perhaps it will be xenophobic, difficult to make friends. Perhaps the social welfare system (something which I value highly) will not be good. Then of course the language barrier if I move out of the English-speaking world. Then there’s also the problem of my medical registration and its international applicability (even though I’m a local graduate of a major Australian university).

However, I’m more scared to stay here and never experience the world.

Where on earth should I go (literally)?

sent by Snipergirl from Melbourne, Australia

Who’s Your Australia?

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008


Here’s a podcast of my interview with Richard Aedy of Australia’s ABC Radio National – sort of the All Things Considered or Talk of the Nation for Australia. And here’s a blog post Aedy wrote about the book (also after the jump).

I spent a part of my Easter break finishing Richard Florida’s Who’s Your City. It was very impressive, though this (first) edition is very much aimed at the US market. Put it this way, Sydney gets two mentions while Madison, Wisconsin, (a much smaller place that’s home to an excellent university but not a lot else) gets 11. Essentially, Florida’s thesis is that where you live matters a great deal. So much so that it’s one of the three most important decisions you’ll ever make: up there with who you choose to spend your life with, and what you do. Actually, Florida argues that it’s the key decision – because it affects the other two. He’s got a point. Holiday romances aside, you tend to meet the person you fall for in the place that you live. Actually you tend to meet them through the places where you socialise, and – overwhelmingly – where you work. You tend to find a job in the place where you live too, although many of us know people who moved for love or their career, or both.

So place matters to you and me. But it also matters to economists and politicians and planners because cities are the great engine rooms of the world economy. Indeed, Florida has identified 40 mega-regions in the world that are home to 1.5 billion people. That’s a lot of people – 18% of the world’s population – but they’re responsible for 66% of economic activity and a staggering 86% of patented innovations. Mega-regions are very important and very big. Bigger than cities, most of the time anyway. Tokyo and London each get one to themselves, as does Mexico City. But most have cities as mere components. Bos-Wash – the almost completely built-up connurbation that stretches down the US eastern seaboard from Boston to Washington, DC, gives you the flavour of the thing. Australia does not get a single guernsey here – not Sydney, not Melbourne, not Syd-Melb, not anything. We’re not big enough.

There’s a lot in the book about this kind of thing – cities and regions as cradles for innovation and economic drivers which are becoming increasingly specialised. Cities as winners (LA, San Francisco, Nashville) and cities as losers (St Louis, Pittsburgh). Cities on the up (Shanghei) and on the down (Detroit). I find it fascinating. But all this is just building up Richard Florida’s bona fides. His real message is that different places have different strengths, weaknesses and personalities. (New York is the most neurotic part of America – I love that). Furthermore, people want different things from where they live in different stages of their life. Bars and music venues are much more important to young, single people just out of uni than they are to young families. At each stage, there’s a place that’s good for you. Actually, Florida goes a bit further than that. Really, he believes, we should be mobile and move to the place that suits us best. He doesn’t pretend there aren’t costs involved with doing that – not least the separation from friends and family. Florida also makes clear that no place is perfect and individuals always need to make trade-offs. However, America is not just a land of optimists, it’s the land of starting over. Bet it sells like hot cakes. Certainly I found it an interesting and provocative set of ideas. Hopefully it was a good interview too.