Book Review: Who's Your City by Richard Florida

I probably shouldn't be writing this review; I live exactly one mile from the house where my mother was born ninety years ago, and except for the first two years of my life in Chicago, always have. On the other hand, I live in Toronto, the same city that Richard Florida now lives in, and which he considers a spiky, creative city. It is part of the mega-region he calls Tor-Buf-Chester, just down the thruway from Bos-Wash and Chi-Pitts. I am not surprised to find that I appear to live in a zone favoured by neurotic people. bordering on a coastal zone for people open to new experiences.

These are just some of the concepts that Florida uses to reinvent the map of America. He suggests that where you live is probably the single most important decision that we make in our lives. He also tells us that technology is not letting us stay put and work on our computers in our small towns, "you can telecommute to your high-tech Silicon Valley job, a ski-slope in Idaho, a beach in Hawaii or a loft in Chicago" but in fact making us more mobile, more likely to migrate to the hot spots of creativity, excitement and diversity. And if you want to really succeed, that is where you have to be.

Alas, before I read this book I assumed that people will follow climate, infrastructure and energy and return to the north, that we would become more flat; in fact we are becoming more spiky. People choose location before jobs, and the most creative, open-to-experience people migrate to the edges, to Cascadia, the Cals, and Bos-wash.

Also depressing is the fact that you basically are where you live-people born in disadvantaged location tend to carry that initial disadvantage across subsequent life stages. He quotes a study of mobility by Bethan Thomas: "Every step of the way your chances are much more constrained. This is not deterministic; obviously there are people from disadvantaged areas who do make the leap and people from the most advantaged who can't be bothered, but those cases are much less common."- the poor and disadvantaged are generally stuck, while the most creative leave town in a hurry.

It raises so many questions about how we are going to build a greener society when everyone is clustering- all that mobility takes fuel; one would hope that skills and specialties were more evenly distributed. But that is why small towns have lost their doctors and kids don't take over the family farm- everyone is on the move. . ::Who's Your City

More Richard Florida in TreeHugger
Quote of the Day: Richard Florida on The New Spatial Fix
Richard Florida on Tor-Buf-Chester
Does Bicycle Friendliness Contribute to a City’s Economic ...
Jargon Watch: "Terminal Gentrification"
Making the Rust Belt Work Again

Tags: Cities | Urban Life

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