Richard Florida’s book The Rise of the Creative Class was the standard tome for economic and community revitalization for most of the past decade. In it Dr. Florida taught us that all we needed to do was focus on three “T’s” – technology, talent, and tolerance – to transform our communities into the equivalent of Silicon Valleys. Despite his simple recipe for creative success, few communities made the transformation that Dr. Florida envisioned.
Now, I am sad to report, Dr. Florida has concluded that we should just give up on community development. Instead of supporting communities, explains The American Prospect in an article aptly titled “The Ruse of the Creative Class,” we should start supporting people. His words from a May 2009 blog post: “People – not industries or even places – should be our biggest concern. We can best help those who are hardest-hit by the [economic] crisis, by providing a generous social safety [net], investing in their skills, and when necessary helping them become mobile and move where the opportunities are.”
Had we known back then how easy it was to (re)create West Virginia, we could have saved a lot of time and money by buying everyone suitcases and renting them Ryder trucks so they could move to more stylish bergs like Austin, Texas; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Boulder, Colorado.
Was Dr. Florida correct then or is he correct now? Stay tuned.