Article of the Day: The Ruse of the Creative Class

Today I bring you an article from The American Prospect, which is unusual because I mostly read NYT, Slate, and The New Yorker. I found the link, predictably enough, on a NYT blog.  But whatever.  Here we are, with a long but totally worthwhile read about Richard Florida, who is a “creative class” urban studies/sociologist guru.  He is famous for his book The Rise of the Creative Class, which has the premise that cities with tolerant atmospheres and hipster places/spaces will attract creative types and thus become cool and, by the way, huge economic engines.  Turns out, not so much.  But Florida made a killing on selling his premise to cities and states, including Iowa City, where I went to college and where his creative class theory was extremely faddish.

I’d like to share a few choice quotes from the article and then let you enjoy the rest.  First up, from Florida’s former publicist:

“There was a tremendous money-generating aspect to Richard’s work,” Frantz says. “We did it in a grand way. We traveled in style. We stayed in boutique hotels in most of the places we were working.” But it is wrong, he says, to see any conflict in Florida’s dire pronouncements on the places that bankrolled this success, because he hadn’t promised prosperity in the first place. “He wasn’t really making prescriptions,” Frantz says. “This wasn’t Jesus Christ throwing the money men out of the temple; this was an academic. He was a f***ing college professor, and you’re hoping to resurrect Canton, Ohio? Yeah, good luck with that.”

Next, for sheer absurdity, I bring you the mayor of Dayton, Ohio:

Across the country, the battle to attract the creative class carries on. In Dayton, Ohio, billboards and T-shirts carry a new Richard Florida-inspired logo: “Dayton patented. Originals wanted.” The city is building bikeways, passed an anti-discrimination ordinance in 2007 to increase its score on Florida’s “tolerance index,” and has given a local group called DaytonCREATE the use of a vacant bank, now called “c{space,” “where they hang out and do a lot of their creativeness,” Mayor Rhine McLin says.

Oh, to do some creativeness.

So did Florida’s creative class theory catch on where you are?  Do you remain a devotee or skeptic?  I have a hard time imagining that his exhortation to move to already-creative places like, say, the Bay Area wouldn’t eventually overwhelm those places.  Wouldn’t they become ever-more-crowded and force more people out to suburbs, thus diminishing the creative returns?  How many converted lofts can you make and sell?  But I digress.  Read the article and come back to me.


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