The Impact of the Creative Class

Garrett-MacLean-sNew piece in Belt Magazine:

When Richard Florida’s new book came out earlier this year, I saw some of the reviews and was intrigued. It was called The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class — and What We Can Do About It. I was interested in the subject. After the 2016 election, who wasn’t?

My interest, however, ran a little deeper than most. Some reviews billed it as Florida’s “mea culpa,” or his “act of penance” for his 2002 book, The Rise of the Creative Class, in which he argued that young, creative workers were the new engines of economic growth and that cities needed to court them in order to prosper. In the beginning, everybody wanted to believe in this “Creative Class” theory. And for a while, so did I. But by 2012 I had serious doubts, and I wrote a critique of Florida’s theory that went viral. Five years later, with the publication of his new book, I wondered if Florida had finally taken my critique to heart.

NUCI didn’t always feel that way. When I first came across Florida’s theory, I myself was a young, creative worker, and I loved the idea that people like myself were economically significant, and that by simply moving to a city we would cause it to flourish. Not long after The Rise of the Creative Class was published, my wife and I moved to Madison, Wisconsin. According to Florida, the city needed us and somehow we were the keys to its future. Yet as a freelance writer, subject to the extreme ebb and flow of income (mostly ebb), I often found myself biking around town, too broke to even afford a cup of coffee. At these times, I wondered: How exactly was I fueling Madison’s economy?

Read the rest here.

See also:

The Fall of the Creative Class

Still Falling: On Chickens and Eggs, Cause and Effect and the Real Problem with the Creative Class

The Price of Everything




Thirty Two #4: Artists’ Spaces, Painted Birds, Soccer Hooligans and Free Music

SummerIt’s been nearly a year since the launch of Thirty Two Magazine, and the fourth issue is now out–the biggest yet by far.  Not only are there fantastic pieces on the Dark Cloud soccer fans, the sharing economy, fiction about life in Antarctica, and more. There’s also beautiful photo essay of  artists’ work spaces. For my part, I interviewed Andrew Lange of  the experimental record label Taiga, which puts out albums on limited-edition vinyl. I also wrote about wildlife art.

Better yet: Two free albums also come with this issue, called Two Seasons: Thirty Two & Friends, which features 19 songs by local bands (including the lovely “Clouds” by the late Zach Sobiech) and which you can download from the site, plus a CD sleeve to cut out from the magazine.

So please find it any of these shops, enjoy it, and if you like what we’re doing, subscribe here.  (Subscribers keep us alive!)

Does the Midwest Matter?

millcity_web-1From Thirty Two Magazine:

Driv­ing north from Des Moines not long ago, I veered off the free­way to a place I knew about but had never had any rea­son to visit. When I got there, I could see why: Mason City, Iowa was a mis­er­able look­ing town filled with func­tional com­mer­cial build­ings that left me with a vague feel­ing of despair as I passed them by.

Nonethe­less, I was there because the city had done some­thing his­toric, some­thing of such cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance that I had first seen men­tion of it on the BBC. It had saved and restored one of the most impor­tant build­ings in the world, the City National Bank and Hotel, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and first opened in 1910. Now it had been reborn as the His­toric Park Inn after a $20 mil­lion renovation.

It may be news to you that Mason City exists, let alone that it has such a build­ing. But it does, and the fact that this is not widely known seems to me like some kind of crime. Barely any­one is aware that one of the most archi­tec­turally sig­nif­i­cant hotels in the world could exist in an ordi­nary, down­trod­den Mid­west­ern town. It is this fact that I find both so inspir­ing and so disturbing.

Read the Rest here.