Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Eavesdropping at the Cocktail Party

....though its more like the cocktail party from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

That's what it feels like reading the recent thread at Esrati on The Foundry closing, which morphed into a discussion of the Creative Region Initiative. There is a related thread at Dayton Most Metro.

One is struck on how incestuous this all is. Though they argue, they mostly all know one another in person, they live in the same neighborhoods, and so forth. They name-drop the same names.

Yet, as was said by some of the posters, they are all playing on the same team, which is an interest in revival of the City of Dayton.

Thats all well and good, yet a narrow way to view urban studies or urban policy, especially considering how increasingly irrelevant the core city is to the economic and social life of the rest of the metropolitan area. It's city vs suburb all over again, just in reverse.

This limited city-focused perspective is particularly the case when discussing the Creative Class.

Last November I looked at the Creative Class, the geographic distribution of occupations associated with this concept, in Montgomery County.

Based on this one has to conclude that the Creative Class lives in suburbia. In fact a susbtantial amount may be living in Greene County, as the definition includes technical professionals, such as those associated with Wright-Patterson. Other observers have noted that Florida's broad concept might be excessively broad, and misses that locational preferences of, say, scientists and engineers, could be quite different from cultural creatives:

"Third, the location and community activities of artists (writers, musicians and visual and performing artists) differ markedly from those of other members of Florida's so-called creative class—accountants, lawyers, scientists, engineers, managers."

--Anne Markusen, in Artists as Community Developers.

So what might be attractive to technical proffessionals, with families, might be different from what's attractive to artists and performers. And should not the focus be on the techies and what they want and like, given the need to recruit for the growing military R&D presence here?

Perhaps the task is to improve the quality of life in suburbia and the small towns. Or at least forground these places as the true advantage of the area.

For the average defense technocrat and his family perhaps one should be selling Pleasantville, not Hipsterville.


The Urbanophile said...

This is basically the approach taken by the city of Carmel, Indiana. They realize that not all educated, creative people are scruffy hipsters who want to live in edgy, seedy 'hoods. Many of them are 40+ with families and want to live in an amenity-rich, first class suburb with excellent schools, libraries, parks, trails, arts, etc.

Jefferey said...

There are a few Dayton suburbs that follow this approach, but I think, in genera;, suburban jurisdictions could do a better job with the ameneties.

Also, small town living could be promoted here as well, as there are some real gems in this area.