Archive for the ‘Creative Class’ Category

>Post Town Hall Stress Disorder

June 5, 2009

>There was a Town Hall meeting in Bessemer last night. Now I understand why Barack Obama did not favor Town Hall meetings. Neither do I. At least not the type that we had last night.

I will let those of you who were there come to your own conclusions what I mean by that. Those of you who were not there, you have two hours of your life that were not wasted.

Seriously, it’s hard to get my brain working this morning.

(Update: another home invasion in our neighborhood) today!!!

I mean, we are supposed to feel safe and secure because:

A) a bomb has not gone off in city hall since the May 1979 explosion (there is not a lot of information online about that event, but here is a case from the Court of Appeals 11th Circuit where Thomas Fullman [who was acquitted of murder, mayhem and assault related to the bombing of city hall in his second trial] sued 15 public officials, witnesses and a bank for conspiracy afterward). This to me is like the claim by certain Republicans that America is safer because we’ve had no terrorist attack since September 11, 2001. I know, I’ve made this connection before, but…

B) You can get shot (or murdered, I can’t remember which word was used) in church! I don’t know if that is in reference to the murder of the abortion doctor in his church last week or not, but since Bessemer has a church on every corner…well, you do the math.

OK, I know I’m being cynical. But I was not the only frustrated person there. Maybe some good music will help.

Anyway, I will change direction. Remember this column from the Western tribune where I recommended Bessemer attract the Creative Class. My column was based on research from a few years ago.

Now the Williams Institute has released a study, which shows that in Massachusetts, same sex marriage has attracted the Creative Class and lots of bucks.

Reuters reported the story and said:

The spread of gay marriage could serve as a recruiting tool for universities, health care companies and financial services firms that dominate the region’s economy, experts said.

“It will be a selling point when it comes to trying to lure people with same-sex partners who are being wooed for a job,” said M.V. Lee Badgett, a University of Massachusetts economist who studies gay and lesbian issues.

Same-sex couples in the so-called “creative class” were 2.5 times more likely to move to Massachusetts in the three years following the approval of same-sex marriage than they had been in the three prior years, according to a study released in May by the Williams Institute of the University of California.

So, while Bessemer may not yet be on the cutting edge, Bessemer Opinions (by reporting on the creative class), certainly is. (Certain) people should listen.

>Plug and Play: Western Tribune Column 5-27-09

May 27, 2009

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This is my column from The Western Tribune this week. (Images added for drama)

Is Bessemer a “plug and play” community?

Are we a community where everyone fits in and where newcomers can find opportunity and a support system while being themselves?

I have been a close observer of Bessemer over the past decade and still can’t answer that.

Richard Florida, a professor of economic development at Carnegie Mellon University, believes that it is important to be such a community to attract what he calls the creative class.

Florida’s research focuses on larger cities, and suburbs are always linked to their big sisters even when we would rather not be. Birmingham ranked number 9 out of 23 medium cities on the Creativity Index developed by Florida in a 2002 study.

But we are not Birmingham. If Bessemer wants to be the hub of the area, we need to keep and attract our own creative class and here is why.

The creative class that Florida writes about includes creative professionals such as lawyers and health care providers and business managers that have to use creative problem solving in their daily lives. But also included are university professors, writers, editors, artists, analysts and opinion writers and such.

People who are creative in their daily work also bring that ability home and into their neighborhoods. In general, they enjoy outdoor life, and desire walking trails and parks but also cultural venues such as art galleries and theaters and concert halls. When these things are in place, according to Florida, people don’t try “to get away from it all,” they want “to get in to it all, and do it with eyes wide open.”

Graphic credit Randi Wolfe, Northern Illinois University

Diversity is valued by the creative class because they value a mix of influences. One measure cited by Florida is the “Gay Index” developed by a doctoral student at Carnegie Mellon. They found that the hot spots of high tech industries and talented people correlated well with concentrations of gay people. When they applied statistics, they found high correlation between the gay index and several other measures of high tech growth.

All this boils down to: if Bessemer wants to be the hub, and wants to retain and attract talent both for the arts and for industry, we need to become a diverse and inclusive community that values all of its residents and recognizes the contributions of all. At this point, I am not sure that Bessemer does.

(End of column)


Flag Wars is a documentary about…well, you can read. Flag Wars. Maybe this should be aired in Bessemer.