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

“Place Finder”

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

The place finder presumes that all users value the same things in their environment as the author.

I might find the living costs in a successful economy too stressful. My work might not be reliant on location. I could work in an industry where jobs are secure regardless, or even in one where demand rises in hard times. Perhaps I just enjoy a challenge.

Whilst I would strongly wish that most people attach high value to equality in their communities, and to any measures which reduce inequality, I thought it odd that the author presumed to know my beliefs. Just because a person has ignorant views on the issue of equality does not mean that you have the right to dismiss their concerns.

Besides, perhaps I am an ardent campaigner for equality, or work in the field, and am actively seeking to locate to a place where I may be of assistance. Or maybe I want to open a factory and hope to exploit locals who are not properly protected by their community or by legislation etc. Maybe I hope to be an agent provocateur for major social reform and seek a community that is already very divided. I could be an anthropologist, a sociologist, an epidemiologist or an Athenian sophist ;) And of course, it is just possible that I am just tired of being granted the “equality” of positive discrimination and pity by which the liberal will always mark me as other – seeking instead to forge my own path on my own merits and earn my equality myself!

As to “diversity”, an automatic assumption that it is good seems plain bizarre. On the one hand it perpetuates the idea that minorities are not wholly a part of the larger community, because in celebrating difference it also continues to mark some people as “other” and prevents a free exchange of influences. On the other hand it arbitrarily favours homogeneity over our collective histories and all that they have to offer, and ultimately leaves us more disconnected from our community as individuals. In addition “diversity” seems all too often to hold some cultures as more worthy of esteem than others. Furthermore, it appears that “diversity” only celebrates certain modes of engagement with the community. If I come to your city wishing to be untouched by the experience, I am to be pitied. If I come to your city hoping to become one of you and to wholly adopt the majority culture, I will not only be pitied, I will be constantly reminded that I am not one of you.

Finally, “diversity” can be used to prevent the majority culture from extending rights to minority cultures. This is evident in many Western countries with regard to women’s rights. And that is before one examines whether one is looking at a major international city such as New York, a city which has a large migrant population that came from one region primarily such as Bradford in the UK or Dearborn in the US, or a city that might have had very little migration in recent times, such as Ulaan Baator in Mongolia.

Of course, a community which is confident will not seek to promote or quash differences within, but will just accept (and hopefully enjoy) what differences and similarities may exist at a given time. If I come to this city I will be valued equally regardless of the degree to which I engage with her. Such a community can be genuinely diverse.

On a lighter note, I might wish to settle in a place that I do not find beautiful. Beauty might be distracting, it might be dull after a while, maybe I regard it as a bourgeois concept. Or perhaps I am just a humble town planner seeking work.

Sent by Miss Objective Subjective from London

We Feel Fine

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

I have always enjoyed this website… Among other things, the website tracks the emotions of web entries by place. It is always interesting to see how “angry” or “bored” people are in a particular place.


Sent by Jacob from Washington, D.C.

Another Reason for Spiky Cities

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Another reason some cities are becoming spiky (I believe) is that the cities need to become more densely populated but further apart for the next wave of transportation. The magnetic levitation train will take people from one end of the country to the other much faster than airplanes, and with less vulnerability to weather. They will not be powered by oil.

Consider this:

  • the average speed of a person walking is 3 mph
  • the average speed of a car driven is 30 mph
  • the average speed of an airplane flying 300 mph

The next “link” is the magnetic levitation train, and will eventually travel at about 3,000 mph!!

Therefore, subconsciously people are migrating for their own selfish reasons, but the result serves the trend.

Sent by Jim

Your city is …

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

Your city is the city that you can change. Is the place that becomes your territory In which you find your temples. The space that is not confining you. The board for your somersault. The environment you fight for. This is my universal city. The dot where the world start to develop. My city doesn’t look like anyone else. It’s all what I have, i.e. me. And wherever I am I will transform that city in me, who am the city I am changing in. www.myspace.com/mcbett

Sent by eli from Roma/Dublin/Barcelona

A nomadic life – one city at a time.

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

I grew up in Nashville, TN, home to the Parthenon and all types of music, but most importantly for me, incredible green space and mountains nearby. In spite of blistering heat and humidity in the summer, I never wanted to be indoors.

But I have always been drawn to big cities and realized early on that Nashville was too small for me. Since leaving home for college (U of Michigan – Ann Arbor), I have lived in Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Diego , New York and D.C. (Bethesda, MD) actually. And, reading Who’s Your City? answered many of the questions that I have spent 20+ years trying to figure out on my own.

Cities do have distinct personalities!!!!! I can honestly say that I would not have wanted to grow up anywhere but Nashville. It is a wonderful place to raise a family and is surrounded by many great educational institutions. Chicago is a great city, but the winters are ungodly. Detroit and I mix like oil and water. But if you have to live there, I say live in Royal Oak, Birmingham or Troy.

I love LA primarily because of how laid back it is. It is hard not to be happy when you can walk along the beach. Then there is San Diego, one of the most aesthetically beautiful cities in the U.S. But it has a small town feel – shops and restaurants close early and outside of the gas lamp district, there is not much going on at night. Hillcrest is a great area (predominantly gay which coincides with the book). But I get the fee ling that outside of this area, the rest of San Diego is conservative.

I admit that I was surprised that D.C. made the list of one of the most creative cities. There are probably neighborhoods that define this, but it is so politically overwhelming that I cannot see much beyond that.

Now, saving the best for last, New York, NY – hands down one of my favorite cities. When Richard talks about creative cities having an energy and openness, that is NY. I felt more at home there than I had living anywhere else. And the only thing missing for me was natural green space, more than just Central Park. Also I realize that climate is important. Temperate climates are best for me because I enjoy being outdoors year-round. After 13 years on and off in Ann Arbor/Detroit, if I never see another snowflake, it will be too soon! :-)

My recommendation to anyone who is trying to figure out where to live is to first read this book; then visit the city; find bloggers who hate it and see what they have to say (if what they hate is what you love – you’re in); and finally just move and rent, don’t buy! There is a reason that San Francisco and the Bay Area make the top of just about every list. It is NY on the West Coast, with green space, the ocean and mountains nearby. Reading this book helped me finally articulate exactly the right fit for me.

Could a move to the Bay Area possibly be my last? :-)

Sent by Taisha  from Bethesda, MD

Who’s Your (Geek) City?

Saturday, March 8th, 2008

Track Ball of Truth tells of the journey:

How did it end up that I was geeking out around the LucasArts facility in the Presidio in San Francisco rather than working there?

Tell us your story.

This occurred to me when I was taking a picture of the bronze Yoda statue by the front entrance, the only sign that a ton of really cool jobs working on the next Indiana Jones and Star Wars properties were on site. Only real geeks know that Lucas Arts moved whole hog from Skywalker Ranch and other locations to a nondescript but beautiful section of the Presidio.

People end up living where they are via three routes: accidentally, intentionally, and indirectly. Accidentally: most people in the US simply live where they grew up because it’s familiar, family and friends are close by and it is so easy to piece together an existence from all that familiarity. Intentionally: at some point early in their lives, some people say, look, I want to live/work/go to school there and then they make it so. Indirectly: some people follow a job, a spouse or a passion that limits where they can live, and the choice is just fallout from that initial decision. There are few nomads, other than those required to be so due to their job (military, sales, corporate execs, etc.).

As I travel around the U.S. to places I’ve always wanted to see, I play this game in my head of trying to figure out how people who live there came to live there. I’m in San Francisco now and my feeling is that there is a greater proportion of intentionals here than in other places. It’s the same vibe I get from immigrant and transient-heavy DC. Maybe it’s because both are creative class meccas, granted of different flavors. Richard Florida, who studies these issues, has a new book out called “Who’s Your City?” I haven’t read it yet, but it deals with this kind of thing.

Given my job, DC is the obvious choice for me and I realize now that I figured out where I wanted to live and what I wanted to do at about the same time. I wanted to go to college in DC but was stuck in NY for financial reasons. But I made sure to go to grad school inside the Beltway. Thinking these things through paid off very nicely for me. I would recommend to any high school student that he/she factor location into the college decision. College location feeds into social and business networking quite heavily. Yes, you can get a job in Miami after colleging in Seattle, but it’s swimming upstream. And above all, don’t let your location just happen, because these things tend to get locked in after a while. Someday, you might look at that Yoda statue, or the dairy farm in Vermont, or a restaurant in New York, and get pissed that you’re just a visitor.

If I had made a different career choice and was successful, maybe I would have ended up at a West Coast entertainment or tech company. Growing up in the Shire made this difficult (especially for laying the ground work for comp sci or anything artistic) but not impossible. I could see an alternate timeline where that did happen: I would be slaving away on animation shots for the upcoming Star Wars movie, halfway through my 30s, unmarried, wondering if what I was doing was truly meaningful and if life had more to offer. All geek and no life makes the Trackball a dull boy.

So how did I react when I saw Yoda and realized that I was on the outside looking in? I took his picture, with my kids in it, felt a little sorry for the people inside (I’m not kidding it was a beautiful day and I was on vacation) and moved on with a big grin on my face. I mean, I was standing right outside a geek mecca! Awesome! I score major geek points.