Richard Florida, Tracking the 'Creative Class'

Creative competitiveness seems to be the key to success in any business, in any country.

Living on the edge of the creative process involves innovation of existing products, services and systems; it requires the creation of inspirational experiences, fantastic landscapes, and intellectually stimulating communities.

It requires an ever-bubbling pool of talent. It requires access to the latest technology. And, most important, according to creative class expert, Richard Florida, "..there's this third T -- apart from Technology and Talent -- called Tolerance."

In an interview detailed in the article The Flight From America by Lakshmi Chaudhry, AlterNet, Florida goes on to say:

The reason this third T is an important part of economic growth and economic advantage is because it attracts talented creative people from all races, ethnicities, income ranges, -- whether they're white, black, Hispanic, Latino, Asia, Indian, women, men, single, married, or gay. So places that are the most tolerant, the most diverse, the most, in words of the new book, "proactively inclusive" have an addition economical advantage.

In the latest installment in his career as experienced tracker of creative populations, Florida details the dangers and unintended consequences of America's increased security requirements. Namely, he takes a critical look at the increasingly restrictive policies towards foreign students, immigration, and the all-important creative class.

The same phenomenon can be said to exist in the ever-expanding "red states": diversity of ideas and ethnicities are facing policies of discrimination and atmospheres of religious and intellectual intolerance. Bill Savage of Seattle's The Stranger writes of the important influence of blue cities, particularly college towns, in culturally homogenous, and politically conservative, red states.

If I just take a look at the paternal side of my family, chock full of lawyers (a father, an uncle, and two cousins), I also find an engineer, two physics professors, three designers, three fiber arts, two amateur birdwatchers, a master chef, a stuntman and a self-described advertising huckster who spends his retirement decking out his "Elvismobile" (click to see Quicktime of his Elvis Shrine Room).

And, to be fair, the lawyers in our family consist of a professional percussionist, an amazing singer/songwriter/marathon runner, and martial arts/meditation expert. My father the lawyer taught me everything I know about cartooning.

In daily life, it is the eccentric element, the rebel, the quirky friend, the flake, the loveable spaz, who makes life interesting--and enriching--by taking the train off the tracks of predictability and taking flight.

Who knew that it would also become the secret to our nation's sustainability as well!


Cities Seek to Prosper by Luring Creative People
NPR's Morning Edition,September 7, 2004

Richard Florida, Tracking the 'Creative Class'
NPR's Weekend Edition - Sunday, May 22, 2005