I came back from a littleÂ incubation period in Florida to visit with another, this one Richard, the economist and best-selling author of the 2002 Rise of the Creative Class, which examined the growing social class of creative people (see video below) who are central to the economy. Rich Florida is another compelling voice in our ride toward the United States of Creativity, arguing that “creativity is the fundamental source of economic growth, and that it is an essential part of everyone’s humanity that needs to be cultivated.” He examines this new Creative Age from a particular expert angle: that of place and, in particular, the city.
When talented and creative people come together, he explains, they optimize and magnify each other’s productivity, which drives economic development. His new book Who’s Your City? further explores social science evidence of factors that make a city thrive, which he has described as the three Ts: Technology, Talent and Tolerance.
All three Ts are necessary, and it is the final one, tolerance, that perhaps is most important for city planners to understand. By tolerance he means diversity, and when a city is truly open to diverse cultures and ideas, Florida explains, they are more likely to become innovation hubs. Using different measures such as the Tolerance Index, Gay Index and Bohemian Index, he found the cities with the best creative economies attract and offer opportunities for people of different races, countries of origin, sexual orientation–and have the most openness to self-expression. Places that have a flourishing artistic and cultural environment “are the ones that generate creative economic outcomes and overall economic growth.”
“I like to tell city leaders,” he writes, “that finding ways to help support a local music scene can be just as important as investing in high-tech business and far more effective than building a downtown mall.”
Hmmm, not only should you embrace your originality and inner-hippie, so should your mayor…