Creative culture

Erel Margalit frequently quotes the works of Richard Florida, author of the influential book, The Rise of the Creative Class, in which Florida analyzes why some American cities are flourishing while others are failing. Margalit believes that Jerusalem has a broad "creative class." If Jerusalem's political, social and economic leaders would be wise enough to encourage and develop this creative class, then Jerusalem, too, could flourish. In a seminal article published in the Washington Monthly in May, 2002, entitled, "The Rise of the Creative Class: Why Cities Without Gays and Rock Bands Are Losing the Economic Development Race," Richard Florida explains his theories. Below are excerpts from this article: The creative class [is] a fast-growing, highly educated and well-paid segment of the workforce on whose efforts corporate profits and economic growth increasingly depend. Members of the creative class do a wide variety of work in a wide variety of industries - from technology to entertainment, journalism to finance, high-end manufacturing to the arts. They do not consciously think of themselves as a class. Yet they share a common ethos that values creativity, individuality, difference, and merit... The distinguishing characteristic of the creative class is that its members engage in work whose function is to "create meaningful new forms." The super-creative core of this new class includes scientists and engineers, university professors, poets and novelists, artists, entertainers, actors, designers and architects, as well as the "thought leadership" of modern society: non-fiction writers, editors, cultural figures, think-tank researchers, analysts, and other opinion makers... The creative class people I study use the word "diversity" a lot, but not to press any political hot buttons. Diversity is simply something they value in all its manifestations. This is spoken of so often, and so matter-of-factly, that I take it to be a fundamental marker of creative class values. Creative-minded people enjoy a mix of influences. They want to hear different kinds of music and try different kinds of food. They want to meet and socialize with people unlike themselves, trade views and spar over issues… They favor stimulation, not escape. They want to pack their time full of dense, high-quality, multidimensional experiences. Seldom has one of my subjects expressed a desire to get away from it all. They want to get into it all, and do it with eyes wide open. Places are also valued for authenticity and uniqueness. Authenticity comes from several aspects of a community - historic buildings, established neighborhoods, a unique music scene, or specific cultural attributes. It comes from the mix - from urban grit alongside renovated buildings, from the co-mingling of young and old, longtime neighborhood characters and yuppies, fashion models and "bag ladies." An authentic place also offers unique and original experiences. Thus a place full of chain stores, chain restaurants, and nightclubs is not authentic. You could have the same experience anywhere... How do you build a truly creative community?… Having an effective people climate is essential. By this I mean a general strategy aimed at attracting and retaining people - especially, but not limited to, creative people. This entails remaining open to diversity and actively working to cultivate it, and investing in the lifestyle amenities that people really want and use often… Whereas companies - or sports teams, for that matter - that get financial incentives can pull up and leave at virtually a moment's notice, investments in amenities like urban parks, for example, last for generations. Other amenities - like bike lanes or off-road trails for running, cycling, rollerblading, or just walking your dog - benefit a wide swath of the population. A climate oriented to young people is also attractive to the creative class more broadly. Creative class people do not lose their lifestyle preferences as they age. They don't stop bicycling or running, for instance, just because they have children. When they put their children in child seats or jogging strollers, amenities like traffic-free bike paths become more important than ever… The middle-aged and older people I speak with may no longer hang around in nightspots until 4 a.m., but they enjoy stimulating, dynamic places with high levels of cultural interplay. And if they have children, that's the kind of environment in which they want them to grow up.