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July 29, 2008

We have recently moved the Creative Class Exchange.

Please update your bookmarks with our new address at www.creativeclass.com

We look forward to your comments and discussion.

Thank you.

July 25, 2008

Writing in the New York Times, Columbia University sociologist, Sudhir Venkatesh argues that it is time to shutter the US Department of Housing and urban Development and replace it with a new Department of Urban Development.

How could a program aimed at curbing inequality and helping the poor end up creating new pockets of poverty? The answer lies partly in HUD’s myopic focus on gentrifying urban cores. ... In correcting HUD’s missteps, we must first separate “housing policy” from “urban development.” Today, housing policy is dictated by private markets, so why not give the Commerce and Treasury Departments oversight of a single authority that administers Federal Housing Administration financing — needed to keep homes affordable for the majority of Americans — and all of HUD’s other housing programs?

Then, the development needs of our nation’s regions — wide areas like the Northeast corridor or Southern California — could be considered anew. ... Regionalism must be embraced, even if it tests local officials who fear losing their traditional sources of government financing.

Promoting coherent regional development will also entail linking urban policy concerns like community development and social services with work like rehabbing roads and building railways ... Americans live too spread out, and economic activity is no longer limited to downtowns. Community-based initiatives — from vocational programs to rezoning efforts to designing effective transportation corridors and recreational space — are sorely needed but will be effective only if they tie into a broader vision that anticipates growth on a large scale.

He's absolutely right.

UPDATE: Arnold Kling says not so fast:

Venkatesh then proceeds, rather naively in my view, to call for replacing the Department of Housing and Urban Development with a better department. First of all, failure only leads to exit in markets, not in government. Second, who is to say that the next generation of programs will not also be captured by special interests?

Richard Florida

Mapping Emotion


The map here is from a project by Christian Nold, a London-based artist, using technology to measure levels of stimulation.  Here's a project summary.

Bio Mapping is a community mapping project in which over the last four years with more than 1500 people have taken part in. In the context of regular, local workshops and consultations, participants are wired up with an innovative device which records the wearer's Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), which is a simple indicator of the emotional arousal in conjunction with their geographical location. People re-explore their local area by walking the neighbourhood with the device and on their return a map is created which visualises points of high and low arousal. By interpreting and annotating this data, communal emotion maps are constructed that are packed full of personal observations which show the areas that people feel strongly about and truly visualise the social space of a community.

Data are here. (via Mind Hacks, Corante)

I guess I picked a good occupation, or should I say occupations. Educators and authors are two of the ten happiest occupations, according to this 2007 University of Chicago study (h/t: Charlotta Mellander). Clergy top the list, however.  Psychologists are happy, as are artists, and sculptors; office supervisors;  and operating engineers. More here.

July 23, 2008

Richard Florida

Young and Professional

According to these Forbes rankings, the Texas Triangle of Houston, Dallas and Austin score 1, 2 and 3,  Atlanta, Seattle, Denver, Charlotte, and San Francisco all scored in the top 10. Take that NY, LA, Chicago, Boston and DC. My hunch is Forbes is giving way too much weight to "cost of living" in an era of front-loaded careers.  Their rankings of best cities for young professionals make a bit more intuitive sense. San Francisco took the top spot, followed by Minneapolis, Houston, New York and Boston. Washngton DC (which to my mind is a fine bet for young professionals as well as recent college grads) came in 9th.  One of the assignments in my economic development course ais to deconstruct Forbes' rankings of the best cities for business. Guess what their next assignment might be? (pointer via CEOs for Cities).

July 22, 2008

Richard Florida

Shiny Happy Jobs

In Rise of the Creative Class I posed the question of the machine shop and the hair salon, asking a group of my students in which profession they would rather work.  A recent UK survey (h/t: Charlotta Mellander) suggests my students are a very smart bunch. 

  • Hairdressers are undoubtedly the UK’s happiest profession>, ranking in the top two positions in every year except 2006, when they were usurped by DJs!  Beauty therapists have also ranked highly, in the top three for the last four years of the survey.
  • Both (hairdressers and beauty therapists) attributed their contentment to strong relationships with their colleagues.  Salon professionals also value having an interest in what they do for a living, which 100 per cent of hairdressers believe is important to on-the-job happiness.

It's worth asking what is about jobs like hair-cutting, cosmetology, and DJing that make people  happy. And as I argued in Rise, there's a lot we can learn from these jobs to upgrade the happiness quotient of other forms of work.

Richard Florida

Fittest Cities

The American Fitness Index ranks US cities.  Check out the interactive map.

That's the title of this Wall Street Journal report:

For much of the 20th century, the proportion of whites shrank in most U.S. cities. In recent years the decline has slowed considerably -- and in some significant cases has reversed. Between 2000 and 2006, eight of the 50 largest cities, including Boston, Seattle and San Francisco, saw the proportion of whites increase, according to Census figures. The previous decade, only three cities saw increases.

July 21, 2008

Richard Florida

Rise of the Cosmoburb

Robert Lang in the Next American City (via Planetizen):

"Cosmoburbs” is the term used in the forthcoming book “Boomburbs: The Rise of America’s Accidental Cities” to describe wealthy suburbs that are also diverse and that increasingly contain non-traditional households. Leading examples around the nation include Naperville, Ill., Plano, Texas, Bellevue, Wash., and Lakewood and Aurora in Colorado ...

In many respects, the Cosmoburb may be the coming America where race is part of the ambiance. Ethnic restaurants and shops with exotic goods draw people into these communities. In such places, it does not matter what race the neighbor is - as long as the lawn is mowed.

The new Cosmoburbs will be part of a global economy. For planners this means that suburbs should not be thought of as merely bedroom communities, but as new economic hubs for an increasingly “brain"-oriented economy .... Suburbs today don’t have less sophisticated economies than cities but are equal to central cities. This shift will require not only new thinking about design, transit and infrastructure in the suburbs, but also new thinking about how the suburbs can truly accommodate singles, seniors, the foreign-born and people of every color.

Richard Florida

NY State of MInd

Eric Torbenson provides a humorous dose of urbanism in in the New York Post:

Defibrillate the suburbs - if you can. The tenets of suburban life are the oxygen in the economic bloodstream, and the nation is suffering hypoxia. The reason a lot of folks think we're just getting warmed up on an economic swoon is that the global economy has neatly garroted all the drivers that make suburbs flourish.

For New York and other cities with respectable public transportation, it's still relatively good times; maybe too good. But have you found a seat on the subway recently?  New York City, already projected to expand to 10 million people over the next 15 years, will grow even more rapidly if these trends continue ... Is it any wonder that the greatest number of new housing construction starts last month - that's nationwide - were apartment buildings in New York City? ...

Wall Street's losing jobs, but with enough other urban industries, people can afford to buy - or at least rent - an apartment; sell that car and take the subway; cut up that CostCo card for groceries at the bodega. No more gas grills on the redwood deck. But hey, a kitchenette! Welcome to the new urban renaissance ...

Something tells me, though, as those huddled masses pour into the city by the thousands, yearning to breath free of filling up the Silverado, New Yorkers will have a political awakening. Nothing will be more important to city dwellers than hybrid or electric cars. Get these people green lightbulbs and energy-efficient vent systems. Send them back where they came from, to their Best Buy parking lots and Applebee's riblets.

Long live the suburbs! It's our only hope.