Florida vs. Kotkin Dustup misses the Point

By Zachary Alexander on

After Joel Kotkin and Richard Florida penned competing articles about the impact of the creative class and the value of aging cities, this led a lot of very serious people to reexamine the merits of Mr. Florida’s theories. Mr. Kotkin claims the “experiment appears to have failed,” and Mr. Florida’s “…response? Bollocks.” For those tasked with supporting sustainability, the issue is how to help America succeed post-Globalization.

In Mr. Florida’s defense, he wrote “The Rise of the Creative Class way back in 2002” before either the arrival of peak oil or the end of Globalization, which happened in the summer of 2006. Not enough attention is paid to Mr. Florida’s call for a United States Economy that works for all American’s, which is an acknowledgement that members of the creative class have the skills they need to compete post-Globalization and the rest need a new plan.

Unlike Mr. Kotkin, you and your peers may find it hard to argue with any effort to improve the livability of any city. The challenge on the other hand comes from how to best increase America’s economic sustainability. Given the impact of Super Storm Sandy and Hurricane Irene, does it make sense to pack more people in aging cities? Generally speaking, strategic planners like to spread the risk.

America is a land of wide-open spaces and there are a lot of lesser industrialized communities in these spaces that could very easily turn into ghost towns without the right help. It is also a country that has to deal with the growing threat from climate instability. And unless there is more attention paid to these lesser industrialized communities, the cost and impact of high profile weather related events will only rise.

Zachary Alexander