Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Growing Creatives - Then and Now

Let me say this straight up that I am not taking sides in this, if there really are sides to be had. Still, the Pittsburgh genesis of all things Creative Class makes it noteworthy.  I thought we were past a lot of this, but a round of Rich Florida angst is generated from Joel Kotkin's piece in the Daily Beast: Richard Florida Concedes the Limits of the Creative Class.   Worth reading, but also worth digging into the referenced articles even more, including, or especially, Rich's recent article from January that Joel is using as foil.

update: the inevitable response is out from Rich, also on the Daily Beast: Did I Abandon My Creative Class Theory? Not So Fast, Joel Kotkin

What I have become more thoughtful of lately is how and why the genesis of Rich's Creative Class thesis came while he was still in town here. You can feel his 'eureka' moment in what started out as a far more mundane project where he asked some local focus groups of young professionals and students asking them why they were, or were not, considering staying in Pittsburgh. Could or would have the Creative Class thesis have emerged anywhere else? There is something deeper than the current haranguing in the answer.  

How long has Pittsburgh been conflicted over the role of human capital (i.e. people) in economic development? Here is a prognostication from a half century ago and the Economic Study of the Pittsburgh Region, Volume 3: Region with a Future (page 284). Not the same quote I have repeated here in the past, but from the same source. What will determine Pittsburgh's competitive advantage in the future? kinds of advantage that will be decisive in the latter twentieth century are within the Region's capability to generate on its own initiative. People rather than geography will play the largest role in shaping our future. (emphasis added)
Again that was published in 1963! I have written already that the message went flat on delivery, and figuring out why has become a certain obsession of mine of late. No matter what 'side' you are on, the epitome of creative (class) irony remains this 'promo' video:


Anonymous Alex B. said...

It's a pity that some areas jumped in and gulped the Florida Kool-Aid. But at the same time many urban centers needed and still need some rehab and spiffing-up. Cool coffee shops are not the answer to urban development nor are art galleries, but this type of development helps folks make choices about where to live and work.

The activities in East Liberty and other areas of the city are in part due to subsidies, but also due to the fact that real estate values had sunk to bargain levels. We are witnessing investment - by government, individuals, companies, foundations. It's pretty much what one would want to happen - it just takes time.

The trick, of course, is to make something happen in Homewood and McKees Rocks too.

Thursday, March 21, 2013 1:20:00 AM  

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