The Cycle | July 11, 2012
>>> we just talked about the fiscal disasters facing many u.s. cities that can't print money to cover their own problems. our next guest says human capital and creativity will ultimately be the way back. in the guest spot today, urban expert richard florida has rereleased his international best seller "the rise of the creative class revisited." he joins us now. richard , thanks for coming on. i wanted to ask you, you have a sort of broad definition of what you call the creative class . you say it encompasses about 40 million people. it's people who advance ideas whether that's somebody in entertainment and showbiz or even somebody who is a lawyer. you argue that basically this is the key for a city to have a vibrant creative class is to have a thriving city. i wonder if you can tell us how that works. are there cities that come to mind that are examples of this working?
>> boulder, colorado would be the best example and san francisco and cities like that but cities in the midwest like ann arbor , michigan in the shadow of detroit have a large creative class . the class is not just artists and musicians and designers and journalists and writers like us. it also includes scientists and technologies allege business and management professions. what we find is when a city or a country like the united states can grow them, that's what really poweres the sustainable economic growth.
>> so my follow up to that is take a city like you mentioned detroit there. i think it's of's definition of a broken and failed city. if you were to go into detroit and sort of talk to the leaders there, what would you tell them about how to revive their city?
>> one thing that's a good thing, detroit has grown more of a creative class since i wrote the wrote the book ten years ago. it's moved up into the top 50 which is a lot better than it was at the bottom of the pack. at "the atlantic, i serve as a senior editor. efound because housing is so cheap and because warehouses are so cheap, young creative people and even some of them from brooklyn or the bay area are moving there. it's more of a bottom upregeneration. it's not the convention is it centers and ca sin knows. as people go there and build new businesses.
>> richard , clearly the creative class and you talk about the service class , working class have to live together, work together, things that they create will be manufactured by the others. but you say the key to dealing with the chronic underemployment that we have in this country, 8% nationally, 14.5% for black people , is not in social welfare but in tapping into their creativity. what do you mean by that?
>> well, one thing that really struck me in the ten years since i first worked on this is the enormous -- you guys were just talking about there in scranton, the enormous class divide we face in this country. it's not just the red blue, obesity, fitness, it's underpinned by the different work people do. creative class is splitting apart from the working people and people who serve us. we need a new social compact . it's not one that just gives people material goods but invests in people, invests in human capital . every single human being is creative . that's what we have to remember. every person has ability. if we can forge a new social compact which gives people the ability and opportunity to use that, if we're going to create one country in income equality, we've got to bring people doing low wage service work, bring them back up and let them invest in their talent and contribute more.
>> richard , i love the idea that every person is creative . i know that's a title of a chapter in your book. is that really true?
>> tourre likes to think he's the only creative person in the world.
>> no, no. i know people who are brilliant who just admit they're not creative .
>> i mean, obviously, there are some people with more ability. all my life, i wanted to be a guitar player. i loved jimmy hendrix . also paul allen 's boyhood idol. i decide i could be better served as a researcher. paul allen as a technologist. when they studied 2 and 3 and 4-year-olds, all 2 and 3 and 4-year-olds, you see it in kids on a playground, kids are creative . in school, we squelch that out of them. by the time they're teenagers they're throwing up their hands. by the time they get older, they're dropping out of the workforce. stoking that creative furnace and build ageconomic system that harnesses this creativity is our only key. you look at the best manufacturing companies in this country. the ones that are really getting ahead. you saw jeff besos talking about this with amazon, harnessing workers and having them work together. you see this in the factors that are humming now and the service businesses are winning. not everybody is uber creative but everybody has creativity they can use on the job and in their lives.
>> richard , you mentioned detroit . i was wondering if you could be really specific about what did they do to improve their standing in the sort of creativity class?
>> you know, it's really interesting, krystal. so many cities do the wrong thing. i think this is what i spend a lot of my life talking to cities. we're going to put a casino up, a convention center up, bring the ball team downtown. we're going to get a factor downtown. that's not what works. there was a woman from scranton, the greatest urbanist of all time, jane jacobs wrote all of these great books and she said it's the small things that make a difference. empowering people to clean up their block to, make their neighborhood safer, to build new businesses. it's the small grassroots up from the bottom things. detroit tried all the big things . they didn't work. and then finally -- and detroit still has a long -- a long, long way to go, but they finally said by giving people access to affordable space, by letting young people start their own businesses, by no longer trying to big thick solutions and now fortunately trying to get their budget under control which is still taking awhile, that's the kind of thing that leads to urban rejuvenation. saw it in new york, in the bay area . i saw it when i lived in pittsburgh. hopefully we'll start to see it in places like detroit .
>> richard florida , thank you for joining us.
>> it's a pleasure to be with you guys. congratulations, by