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)
by Ruth Walker
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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