Aren't you creative too?

There is a pernicious (dammit, I *will* say pernicious as much as I want!) assumption that goes along with any discussion of the creative class. It’s the assumption that it only applies to [insert group here].

It is understandable where that assumption comes from. Media sources often misreport report Dr. Florida’s work as claiming that “success depends on gays“, when it doesn’t actually say that at all. Professional types – who see themselves as the heirs to the creative class throne – take this as a mandate to dictate their wills to the rest of us. And so the misunderstanding gains legitimacy, and instead of fighting for new innovation we have to fight against a professional class that doesn’t listen to real folks – and yet another social innovation goes awry.

I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Florida speak at Wright State a while back. While impressed, I was most struck by two things he said that often get overlooked:

  1. It isn’t the presence of gays that makes a city successful – it’s the atmosphere of general tolerance that *allows* gays and artists to exist that promotes success. (Or in other words, a city where gays were accepted but still had a good amount of racism would be just as bad. This article unwittingly provides evidence of this by citing NOLA, while tilting at the misreported straw man.)
  2. Everyone is part of the creative class. He used the illustration of an employee at a eyeglass plant who saw ways they could do things better, even though the employee wasn’t a manager or proclaimed efficiency expert.

These two things are tied together. Without tolerance, ideas from the bottom rungs (or worse, from social outcasts) are discarded and left by the wayside.

The whole concept of the “creative class” leading towards economic success should be clear: Without tolerance, you have a limited set of like-minded brains with like-minded solutions. When those solutions don’t work anymore, when groupthink kicks in, your economy fails.

It is ironic that neo cons like GWB keep talking about ownership societies (mind you, they’re talking about “ownership” without representation…). A society where everyone is a true stakeholder is one where everyone also has a say. That kind of ownership is a direct lead-in to the creative class, and economic prosperity.

A while back I wrote a paper on the uses of co-operatives in a capitalistic society. As I did my research, it seemed that cooperatives based on ideological motives (i.e. “We’re an anarcho-syndicalist commune”) have all failed. However, co-ops based on either religious or shared-profit motives have persisted. (Want some Land-O-Lakes?)

Realizing that we are all part of the creative class, that we all have solutions and insights into today’s world, that we all have a common stake in improving our cities, lets us buy into the cooperative nature of our neighborhoods, our cities, and our states.

While still keeping our freedom.

2 thoughts on “Aren't you creative too?

  1. Steve- I was there when Florida spoke at WSU- and also about 5 years ago when he spoke at Sinclair.
    All the muckity-mucks were at the first one- but didn’t get it.
    The tolerance isn’t just to gays- it’s to new ideas, new leaders, new thinking- as you point out.
    Enlightened leaders understand that you have to give power to have true power- and in Dayton, we are sadly lacking in the enlightened leadership category.

  2. Yup. Hierarchies only work well when there’s a high cost of information dissemination. Otherwise, they’re hopelessly ineffecient.

    (or in other words, I agree with ya.)

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