Are You Living Where You Should Be?

Richard Florida, who rose to fame alongside his Rise of the Creative Class figures you should evaluate if you are living where you should be. As I read the reviews and summaries of his new book, Who’s Your City?, I get the impression that it may have just gotten harder to attract the creative class to one’s area.

Of course, it has always been difficult or easy without Florida saying it. But from what I read and what he talks about in this newspaper article, it seems like there is an underlying vibe a lot of places that attracts (and repels) certain types of folks. If your community doesn’t already have a certain nascent characteristic, it is going to be tough to cultivate a change in that direction. There is a certain inertia to some places that will hinder efforts if local government/Chamber of Commerce, etc is trying to push things in an opposite direction with the intention of attracting the treasured creatives. He even implies an entropic influence on people drawing their values and attitudes closer to being in line with the general community over time. (Though most people who are considered the loony liberal or raging conservative probably won’t ever be wholly converted short of consciously willing it.)

Florida talks about certain communities being suited for people at different phases in their lives and lists the “best of” in large, middle and small regions. I haven’t read the book but if I were to hazard a guess, given that creatives, like all mortals age and mature in their outlooks, attracting them is probably a matter of exploiting the aspects of your community that best suit a certain demographic rather than aiming for the young and hip (unless your community is a burgeoning hip place.)

What appealed to me more than the top five list was another section of the website that poses 20 questions to help you decide what communities are best for you. This is great for me because I am young and hip in atypical ways. The strength of the place finder is that it makes you examine your criteria for your ideal community and forces you to do a little research to answer all the questions.

You plug in where you live and up to four places where you want to live. It then asks you to rate each city on typical things like economy, geography, climate, available jobs, health care, arts, schools and housing costs. But it also asks you to rank them on things like trustworthiness of politicians and business leaders, availability of technology, diversity of leadership and community and openness of the community. In the end you may discover that while you always dreamed of living in Seattle, you are better off living where you are.

I suspect the place finder might even be help people focus their thinking when they consider founding an arts organization. (Maybe the NEA or Americans for the Arts should adopt a similar tool specifically for the arts.) Even without his book being published, I don’t think I would be suggesting anything earth shattering were I to say that founding an arts organization that doesn’t resonate with the underlying vibe of a community is a bad idea and probably destined to result in one muttering about philistines. If communities can target the wrong group of creatives, creatives can certainly target the wrong communities.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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