I happened to catch a little of our favorite urbanist, Richard Florida, on talk of the Nation yesterday. In case anyone is interested here is the NPR link- Why ‘Where’ Is More Important than ‘Who’ or ‘What’ - this contains a link to the radio stream and some other content.
Florida’s contributions to urban planning and economic geography are undeniable, but some of his ideas about the “creative class” and mega-regions have just always rubbed me the wrong way; and I’m never exactly sure why. But listening to him yesterday finally brought into focus what bothers me the most; its this perspective that a city or region is like a economic commodity that can be “purchased” like a car – used up and thrown out when it no longer suites our needs. There is an inauthenticity in this commodification of community that brushes aside the very real, existential commitments we have to our “place” in this world. However I will backtrack a little on this today, now that I’ve listened to the whole interview.
At the beginning of the discussion Florida addresses some of the real life considerations that affect our decisions to move from place to place. He even addresses some of the attempts to bring the extended family to bear on determining the economic value of place. For what its worth, hearing him address this side of the equation gave me a better appreciation of his academic perspective.