More Than Money
Issue #37

Money and Community

Table of Contents

“Books”

The Rise of the Creative Class .and How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community, and Everyday Life
By Richard Florida
(Basic Books, hardcover 2002; paperback 2004)

Reviewed by Ruth Walker

Richard Florida has seen the future, and it is very creative. The economy has changed; it's no longer just the "knowledge workers," as Peter Drucker, granddaddy of management gurus, calls them, who are at the cutting edge of economic progress. According to Florida, the group we now need to be thinking about, if we want our cities to prosper, is the "creative class." By Florida's reckoning, this includes a "super-creative core" of computer geeks, engineers, architects, artists, designers, and writers, plus an outer core of managers and financial, legal, healthcare, and sales professionals. This group now makes up 30 percent of the workforce, up threefold since the turn of the last century. The message: Make the creatives happy, and everybody's happy.

The creatives want technology, talent, and tolerance. They want to live and work in communities that have highpowered universities and a lot of smart people. They also want respect for their unique, perhaps offbeat, contributions- and they are likely to use a community's tolerance for gays and lesbians as an indicator of other kinds of tolerance.

Florida, a traditional industrial economist, started thinking specifically about how cities work when Carnegie Mellon University launched a project to prevent a brain drain of talented young people from leaving Pittsburgh, his adopted hometown. His 2002 book, published after the dot-com bubble burst, is now out in paperback. It has been hugely influential among local government officials. Now highly successful as a theorist and consultant, Florida has nonetheless been faulted by some for confusing cause and effect in economic development, and his numbers have been challenged. But he does seem to have nailed some important trends, which may be usefully studied by those who want to build and nurture community.


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