Reader’s Recommendations

Never have I anticipated a book coming out. Movies, yes. Album releases, yes. Books, nope. There’s something about the immediate gratification of the former two that make the latter seem like work. For me, movies and music have an experiential impact as well. I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t always live up to my namesake, but I’m still figuring myself out.

In his book, The Rise of the Creative Class Revisited, Richard Florida did his best at describing me to myself. When I heard of the original edition of this book being touted as a must read, I decided to delay my gratification even more. I knew that the revised 10th anniversary version would have the most up to date data and edited thoughts that would make it worth postponing.

As you know I have recently cleared the 30 year checkpoint, I have moved from here to there, I have worked doing this and that. To outsiders it appears that I am full of lofty ideas, can’t sit still, and I might be too critical of things that might not be broken. With all of our technological advances I still prefer a more simple and genuine approach to living my day-to-day life. All of this is true, and I am not alone.

As is explained in The Rise of the Creative Class Revisited, there has been a fundamental shift in behaviors, social norms, and a cultural change not just in “people my age,” but in the world as a whole. Technology, and subsequently globalization, have brought people around the world closer. Information is the new resource that is the hot commodity. There’s a limit to raw natural resources and of material consumption. However, there is no limit to human creativity.

The Creative Class, as Mr. Florida has put it, is a new emerging class which consists of 40 millions Americans, that roughly one-third of all employed people belong to. These people engage in complex problem solving that involves a great deal of independent judgement and requires high levels of education or human capital.

The breakdown: you can be an artist, musician, designer, architect, engineer, educator or part of a broader group of creative professionals. These are individuals in business and finance, law, health care and related fields. The key difference that separates this third of the working population from the Working Class and Service Class is what they’re paid to do. Those in the Working and Service Classes are primarily paid to do routine, mostly physical work, whereas the Creative Class are paid to use their minds.

It’s not to say these folks must be highly educated (the Bill Gates Rule), although there is a large portion of the group with bachelor’s degrees and above. Monetarily, the Creative Class workforce make quite a bit more than their counterparts. Job stability and demand has also given piece of mind to members of the Creative Class even given the past economic turmoil. Their skills and education allow them to face such a crisis in stride.

Having an increased presence of Creative Class workers has reduced the negative economic impact cities have been faced with over the past 4 years. Those cities faced less unemployment rates and remained more prosperous during times other cities having been struggling to tread water.

So not only workplaces, but cities are trying to adapt to a social and fundamental change that is taking place right before our eyes. Being that the Creative Class is an experience driven (see my lazy comment in the first paragraph) group and their surroundings must reflect the same. An important quote to note is:

Creativity for us is an act of synthesis, and in order to create and synthesize, we need the stimuli of new experiences – bits and pieces to put together in new and unfamiliar ways, existing frameworks to deconstruct and transcend.

It is no longer acceptable to just allow a Bohemian art colony to form by itself, we must actively encourage it through our urban planning. In Chapter 10 – Place Matters, Mr. Florida accurately describes what needs to be taking place in our cities from large to small. We must work at attracting talent. We must create a dense environment where people are able to interact more closely. We must be open to all walks of life. We must strive to create authentic and genuine experiences. Most importantly, focus on quality of life issues, which improves the health and welfare of everyone – regardless of class.

Cities with a large Working Class populations have been and are becoming economically stagnant. The author explains that the 3T’s of Economic Development are what will separate these geographic locations even more in the years to come. Those are: technology, talent, and tolerance.

The Top 10 Cities in that department are listed below:

Rank Metro Area
1 Boulder, CO
2 San Francisco, CA
3 Boston, MA
4 Ann Arbor, MI
5 Seattle, WA
6 San Diego, CA
7 Corvaillis, OR
8 Durham, NC
9 Washington DC
10 Trenton, NJ

It comes as no shocking surprise to me that where I live ranks 182nd on that index and 119th as far as the percentage of Creative Class workforce share. I have found a lack of creativity, desire to be genuine, and misguided attempts in regards to quality of life matters.

As the book comes to an end it leaves us with a call to action –

The old regime has left us with a degraded environment, a broken financial system, and a sclerotic political culture in thrall to special interests and its own prejudices. Two decades and counting after the fall of communism and the so-called end of history, the West is as culturally, economically, and politically riven as it’s ever been – but its potential is literally without limits.

A lot can change in 10 years. In the case of the United States, its people, and its economy, some serious shit happened. That’s what makes this 10th Anniversary Edition of The Rise of the Creative Class an even more solid piece to read at the present time. It’s often the hardest to face facts, change, and adapt until you are slapped in the face, kicked in the ass, left with your own thoughts and forced to face reality.

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