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May 30, 2008

Richard Florida

Model Suburb?

« Super Star Cities | Main | Mayors of the World, Unite! »

As they swell, the suburbs are changing. Perhaps none ever quite resembled the colourless domestic enclaves popularised by 1970s television programmes such as “The Brady Bunch”; now, they look nothing at all like them. America's suburbs are ethnically and demographically mixed—sometimes more so than its cities. Many are less dormitories than economic powerhouses.

This is from an interesting, if somehow conflicted, Economist article on America's suburbs.  As I point out in WYC, there is no one suburban model.  Close-in suburbs on  transit links in and around "super-star cities" are likely to fare very, very well. Far-ff exurbs, not so much. Suburbs come in many styles and "flavors."  There are strollervilles, boho-burgs, family lands, new urbias, exurbs - the list goes on and on. Beyond this, there are real economic drivers that are transforming suburbia. One is of course rising fuel costs.  There are more options out there for "living" and tastes and preferences are changing and becoming more differentiated by group and across life-stage. One size no longer fits just about everyone.  And as I've stated here before, in  the idea-driven creative economy, time or "opportunity" costs increasingly matter to location choice.  A very interesting ongoing transformation indeed - one which is far from over.


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The City Gal

This was an interesting article. Since I moved out of the city for my new job, I have been telling people about "functioning suburbs of Toronto".

When I say functioning, I mean:
1- Many small and medium size businesses (technology companies that hire creative people) have been thriving out here
2- Population is mostly young (young families, skilled educated immigrants)
3- Public Transit and community services have improved greatly over the past 5 years

Even though fuel prices are still a problem, as Public Transit grows here and families move closer to their workplace, a nice balance should be achieved in the next 5 years. (that will also solve the traffic jams)

Small and mid-size companies that cannot afford the rent in the big city have found their niche in the immediate suburbs in Ontario.

However, I admit that City still has its allure for the young, single dynamic demographic, these "functioning suburbs" have proved to be suitable for the young families that need just a little more room to grow.

Michael Wells

How does this fit with Bill Bishop's "Big Sort" about Americans moving to more homogenous communities? Are Willingboro's Asians, Blacks, Muslims, etc. all college educated liberal Democrats? Will the suburbs save the melting pot ideal?

Interesting article. I certainly see the suburban move around Portland, there are still ethnic enclaves but they're around the fringes rather than the center city. Indians in Beaverton & Hillsboro, Chinese in outer Southeast, a Somali community near Tigard, Russians in Gresham, etc. You see more of the mixing the article talks about, but many of the immigrants still stick to their own ethnic groups.

Michael Wells

Interesting article on CNN.com about immigrant assimilation.


Here's the study

Whitney Gunderson

Well, as long as we're talking about suburbs, neighborhoods, race and immigrants, and the DNC is having the big May 31 meeting on what to do with delegates from Michigan and Florida, I thought I would celebrate by coming up with a "Place Yourself" experiment based on race and place. It should generate lots of discussion, but it's not offensive.

"Place" has two districts: "Oak" district and "Maple" district. Each district has exactly six people, five voters and one "Politician." Of the five voters in each district, three are the "Green" race and two are the "Purple" race. There are no genders, no ages and no socioeconomic classes of voters. Race and issues are the only distinguishing factors. Politician is neither Green nor Purple.

Oak is an issue based district, issues are the number one issue for voters in Oak, while race is second. Maple is a race based district, race is the number one issue for voters in Maple, while issues are second.

Politician runs for office in Oak, and promises to divide up the budget of $120 equally to each of the five issues Oak district faces; school, transportation, environment, health and music. Politician wins election by a 5-0 vote, and each of the five issues receive $24.

Politician runs for office in Maple, and promises to divide up the budget of $120 by race, the Green race receives $72 and the Purple race receives $48. Then, it’s up to the people to split the money between the issues; school, transportation, environment, health and music. Politician wins election by a 3-2 vote, and Green race receives $72 and Purple race receives $48.

Now, place yourself. What district would you rather live in, Oak or Maple? What district adheres more to the creative class theory? If you think about it, this is why the creative class theory is met with some resistance. The creative class is sophisticated enough to acknowledge differences between people, but is generous enough to provide more than enough tolerance to accept those differences. In some cases, that is a lot to ask. But let me pose this: Do you think Steve Jobs was worried about being a San Francisco hippie, or Bill Gates was worried about being a Harvard drop-out?

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