Who's Your City?: How the Creative Economy Is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life by Richard Florida

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Places Discussed

Posted 2008-11-11

People PlacesBook Notes by John December

Richard Florida's main point in this book is that creative people want to live and work close to each other and gain competitive advantages in productivity, knowledge transfer, and economies of scale arising from a critical mass of like-minded (as well as different) people in proximity (p. 30).

Florida advises readers to:
  1. Prioritize preferences for place based on likes and dislikes, stage of life, and activities.
  2. Generate a short list of matching places (using various lists, tools, or gathered information).
  3. Assess options in those areas for aesthetics, values, leadership, basic services, and opportunity.
  4. Visit places and step through various environments where you might live.
  5. Decide.

Florida's book begins with the idea that place does indeed matter. While many assume that the Internet, overnight delivery, and other features of communication and transportation make it possible that you could live anywhere, Florida points out that people simply do not--in mass numbers--move to the boondocks to run creative businesses. (There are exceptions as in Life 2.0). Instead, Florida observes that people tend to cluster in order to take advantage of the "wealth of place" (p. 79) to meet their needs. Kotkin (2000) observes a similar power of place in The New Geography.

The result of this clustering is a sorting not unlike what Weiss (2000) described in The Clustered World and a breakdown of personality-matching city types as Ezell points out in Get Urban!. Florida refines his previous conclusions about the creative class as described in Cities and the Creative Class by observing that it is the "open-to-experience" people which seem to strongly relate to economic development and productivity (p. 211).

Florida provides a final chapter, "Place Yourself," in which he gives a method to help the reader find a psychologically-matching place to live (similar to what Ezell did in Get Urban!--but Ezell focused on the historic, cultural, and architectural geography of a place whereas Florida is directly addressing psychological aspects).

Florida's observations are very astute when it comes to breaking down what attracts people to cities. His findings in his Place and Happiness Survey from 27,000 respondents (p. 163) shows that what matters most are: 1) aesthetics (parks, culture, nightlife); 2) basic services (education, housing, public transportation); and 3) openness (to people of different ages, family types, races, lifestyles). The dominance of aesthetics turns over the idea that focusing on infrastructure only draws people to a place.

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2024-05-14 · John December · Terms © johndecember.com