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Re: SG-W:/ Ann Arbor Cool Cities Follow-up



I know that some of you are reacting to some of the comments in the initial
post so it should be clarified that the discussion of the "creative class", at
least as Richard Florida has laid out in his book, is not exclusionary. He
believes that people of all backgrounds and age levels have creative abilities
and that they should be developed to the benefit of our communities. I think
the focus has been on people of certain professions and age ranges because
they tend to be the ones who are leaving for other communities. I think the
goal is to understand why these people are leaving and what are communities
can do to ensure that we do have a diversity of age groups and professions
represented in our populations.

Some might argue that these creative people are transient and it makes no more
sense to chase them than it did to chase companies with tax abatements. But I
think that Mr. Florida makes a case that these people aren't transient in the
sense of jumping from town to town chasing jobs. Instead, they seek out
communities like Ann Arbor (San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, Austin, etc.) that
promote a creative lifestyle and offer job opportunities for their creative
professions. Once they find those communities, they tend to become involved in
those communities. Also, as Mr. Florida has documented, creative people tend
to migrate to cities that provide a high quality of life. This should be a
goal for all communities, whether they are conciously seeking to attract this
group of people or not.

I also agree that government can't create creativity by itself. But we
shouldn't ignore how those actions can inhibit or promote individuals and
groups seeking outlets for their creative lives. As was noted, housing costs
are a significant barrier for many people to live in Ann Arbor. Is there a
role for government to play in that? Likewise, there are many policy decisions
that government makes that can contribute or take away from the quality of
life in the Ann Arbor area.

Andrew Mutch

barbara nagler wrote:

> I have a similar reaction to Steve's on this.  The concept of a creative
> "class" is disturbing in itself.
>
> IMO, people of all ages whose topmost priorities are highly creative in
> any nontraditional sense are increasingly unable to afford to live in Ann
> Arbor-- but that applies to young people in general, too.
>
> Because of the presence of the University Ann Arbor
> already has a high level of youthful presence and energy, even if most of
> the students are only temporary residents.
> But more to the point I would like to see us think less in
> terms of such categories, or attempts to control demographics, and more
> in terms of real creativity: individuals of all ages in a community
> creating from the ground up.  Really creative communities have a life of
> their own and people are attracted to them naturally-- it's not
> controllable by government or as a strategy on paper.  But the trend now
> seems to be to to fear and distrust this kind of vitality because it's
> perceived as disorderly and dangerous.
>
> How about a "warm city" instead of a "cool" one?  Warm and inclusive of
> the creativity of all kinds of people of all ages, and both grounded and
> spiritual in its relationship with nature.
>
> I won't be able to attend either-- (I will be meeting with a terribly
> cool group of highly creative writers and dancers, age nine to fifty, who
> can barely afford to live in Ann Arbor, but do attract a number of
> out-of-towners to help support local studios and restaurants.)
>
> Irena
>
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smartgrowth-washtenaw:  Internet List and Forum for issues relating to
sprawl, smart growth, and preservation of the quality of life in Washtenaw
County.

Postings to:  smartgrowth-washtenaw@great-lakes.net      For info, send
email to majordomo@great-lakes.net  with a one-line message body of  "info
smartgrowth-washtenaw"
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