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December 06, 2007

Richard Florida

The Memphis Manifesto

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Smart City Memphis re-ran it today.  It holds up really well.


Creativity is fundamental to being human and is a critical resource to individual, community and economic life. Creative communities are vibrant, humanizing places, nurturing personal growth, sparking cultural and technological breakthroughs, producing jobs and wealth, and accepting a variety of life styles and culture.

The rest after the jump.

The Creative 100 are committed to the growth, prosperity and excellence of communities, and all who live and work there.

The Creative 100 believe in the vision and the opportunities of a future driven by the power of ideas. Ideas are the growth engines of tomorrow, so the nurturing of the communities where ideas can flourish is the key to success. Ideas take root where creativity is cultivated and creativity thrives where communities are committed to ideas.

Creativity resides in everyone everywhere so building a community of ideas means empowering all people with the ability to express and use the genius of their own creativity and bring it to bear as responsible citizens.

This manifesto is our call to action.


The Creative 100 are dedicated to helping communities realize the full potential of creative ideas by encouraging these principles:

1) Cultivate and reward creativity. Everyone is part of the value chain of creativity. Creativity can happen at anytime, anywhere, and it’s happening in your community right now. Pay attention.

2) Invest in the creative ecosystem. The creative ecosystem can include arts and culture, nightlife, the music scene, restaurants, artists and designers, innovators, entrepreneurs, affordable spaces, lively neighborhoods, spirituality, education, density, public spaces and third places.

3) Embrace diversity. It gives birth to creativity, innovation and positive economic impact. People of different backgrounds and experiences contribute a diversity of ideas, expressions, talents and perspectives that enrich communities. This is how ideas flourish and build vital communities.

4) Nurture the creatives. Support the connectors. Collaborate to compete in a new way and get everyone in the game.

5) Value risk-taking. Convert a “no” climate into a “yes” climate. Invest in opportunity-making, not just problem-solving. Tap into the creative talent, technology and energy for your community. Challenge conventional wisdom.

6) Be authentic. Identify the value you add and focus on those assets where you can be unique. Dare to be different, not simply the look-alike of another community. Resist monoculture and homogeneity. Every community can be the right community.

7) Invest in and build on quality of place. While inherited features such as climate, natural resources and population are important, other critical features such as arts and culture, open and green spaces, vibrant downtowns, and centers of learning can be built and strengthened. This will make communities more competitive than ever because it will create more opportunities than ever for ideas to have an impact.

8) Remove barriers to creativity, such as mediocrity, intolerance, disconnectedness, sprawl, poverty, bad schools, exclusivity, and social and environmental degradation.

9) Take responsibility for change in your community. Improvise. Make things happen. Development is a “do it yourself” enterprise.

Ensure that every person, especially children, has the right to creativity. The highest quality lifelong education is critical to developing and retaining creative individuals as a resource for communities.

We accept the responsibility to be the stewards of creativity in our communities. We understand the ideas and principles in this document may be adapted to reflect our community’s unique needs and assets.

The undersigned commit to our communities and each other that we will go back to our communities to infuse these ideas into our social lives and public policies and share the accomplishments with each other so that we all can move forward and succeed together in a more creative existence.

It’s Not Just About Talk

These then were the beliefs of the creative thinkers that they thought would converge to create a community that attracts creative workers. More to the point, they were clear that there’s not a magic answer or a silver bullet to making it happen. Rather, it’s about mounting a range of actions that interlock to create a city that becomes a magnet for talent. It's not about big projects, but a big shift in the community mindset.

Coupled with the Memphis Talent Magnet of the previous year, Memphis at that time had both the philosophical framework and the specific strategies to become a city that attracts young talent, particularly in accentuating its authenticity and creating authentic sense of place (Memphis was in fact the buzz of the Summit).

But the truth is there is no lack of ideas. There is only the lack of action. What’s still missing in Memphis is the kind of action that show that we are not afraid to do things differently. After all, what we really want is for Memphis to be Memphis and not a pale imitation of some other place.


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The Memphis Manifesto has been praised by many- I've shared it with many creatives who have responded with "This says it all, but now how/what is it to be implemented?" I feel a key component to action is developing the civic leadership and infrastructure along with the entrepreneurial ecosystem for fulfilling the potential of this bold statement. Civic innovation is at least as important as the number of signatures on such a manifesto. What kind of nonprofit/public/private organizations are needed? This gets a little dicey because leadership is a prerequisite for any significant cultural shift. I'd love to see guidelines/guiding principles for implementation.

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