Richard Florida, "I take it back."

Submitted by Susan Miller on Wed, 01/20/2010 - 15:12.

Phew, the Cleve Orch dodged a bullet… Now we can sleep knowing that Severance Hall will not become an abandoned and empty place for scrappers to loot. But right around the same time, we can read about Richard Florida’s admission that some cities are just too damaged to play anymore. You can bet Cleveland is on his list. His solution? Move away… run, run, run as fast as you can. Like Alan Greenspan, he is not apologizing for his earlier predictions, but he is dialing it back – waaay back. Florida made mucho bucks spreading the gospel of adding art brothels in a shrinking city to make it vibrant. Hell, in all those western ghost towns where the sagebrush blows through, the saloon owner knew that a brothel would increase his liquor business.  Wasn’t Florida saying the same thing albeit replacing having whores around with having artists around?

 
I am not decrying the necessity of the arts. And in Cleveland we’ve got ‘em. Large and small, institutions and organizations and individual artists; we’ve got ‘em neighborhood and arts district style. But don’t look to the rise of the creative class says Florida now.
 
I love this hopefulness (or is it wishfulness?) “Officials in these communities are mostly unaware that, by Florida's new estimation, some of them are doomed to a bleak fate -- both the postindustrial cities and the Sun Belt boomtowns. And each is convinced that his or her city is still assured a place in Florida's pantheon. "Despite the population and job loss, we do have a city that's diverse and attractive to people in the creative class," says Cleveland's planning director, Robert Brown.”
 
He’s right and Florida can go f___ himself with all his money. But Cleveland is unlikely to be saved by its artists, arts orgs and arts institutions. We need ‘em, but they are not the saviors any more than people like Florida are. We can’t begin to be saved until we recognize that putting a bandaid on a gaping wound is not gonna stem the infection. We need water and sewer infrastructure, air quality, soil building, fixing what we’ve got – not building new. No more retail, no more housing, no more ports, no more opportunity corridors. Stop the madness, use what you’ve got, ferchrissakes! We don’t need low impact development, we need to stop developing and assess what we already have and then determine how we’re gonna use that.
 
Here. I’ll light another cigarette and lift a glass to arts and sports and planners while I revisit Norm’s notes from a 2004 REI meeting. …. Most all the links on that page go no where, just like Florida’s ideas. Interesting isn’t it that Norm’s notes are still here? Interesting, too, that Florida’s predictions played out between then and now. Steve Tater opened a business in Brooklyn, NY. Mary Beth Matthews, who is full of creativity, had her and her partner’s creative idea to train workers for manufacturing with new tools stolen and shelved by another fly-by-night ED program. Ed was fired by a passing Dean at CWRU and now travels the country helping other communities address ED issues. So I wonder when are we gonna get down to it? When are we gonna finally stop with the silver bullet methodologies and say, hey it would be nice to have boef bourguinon, but we have no boef. I guess it’s time for stone soup.
 
Speaking candidly, in the article, Florida’s longtime manager Rodgers Frantz says. "This wasn't Jesus Christ throwing the money men out of the temple; this was an academic. He was a fucking college professor, and you're hoping to resurrect Canton, Ohio? Yeah, good luck with that." No kidding, Mr. Franz.
 
Here’s the kicker though. I tried to find a reference to Cleveland on Florida’s revamped site. When I put Cleveland in the box and hit search, I got a series of articles, too numerous to wade through. But more interestingly I got this google ad:
 
Flight of Creative Class
Fares just dropped!
Flights starting at $49
AirlineX.com/cheap flights
 
Don’t go and don’t believe snake oil salesmen either.

Hat tip to George Nemeth at Brewed Fresh Daily for grabbing this from the ether and tossing it down in my mind. And thanks to the person who emailed the link to me, too.