Interesting article about Richard Florida.
In our interview, Florida shies away from making the abandonment argument as forthrightly. He tells me his Atlantic piece was the "best thing I've ever done" but backs away from it under questioning. "I'm not saying abandon these places," he says. "I'm saying, number one, invest in their assets, number two, invest in their connective fiber" to other cities. He is an advocate of building high-speed rail to link cities like Detroit, Buffalo, and Milwaukee to Chicago and Toronto. What he really opposes, he says, is propping up industries like auto manufacturing. He recognizes that expecting people to leave home for his creative hubs is "gut wrenching" and laments the "massive geographic inequality" that will result.
But that is not what he has been arguing in his writing, which has very forcefully made the case for redoubling the flow of talent and investment to creative centers. As he wrote in The Atlantic, "We can't stop the decline of some places." That does not sound like a call for a multibillion-dollar rail project in Michigan. ...
After the Atlantic cover story appeared, Florida was a guest on National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation. Tessa from Detroit called in: "My neighborhood is really disappearing," she says. "I would love to hear some comments from your guest about what's going to happen to my neighborhood. What are his predictions? ... Do we get out? Do we stay?"
Florida assured Tessa that Detroit's plight "is not something I'm particularly happy about." He told her his wife is from Detroit. And then he told her that his friends who live in Detroit are making it as "freelancers" who "commute on an irregular basis" to work on projects somewhere else. He had recently given a speech to Detroit airport officials, who told him that the airport would remain viable. "That airport provides connective fiber," he told her. "Finding local employment is going to be a lot harder. So you either have to say, can I commute to work, by plane perhaps, or do I have to look for a place that has a better set of opportunities for me?"
There was no way to know if the answer was satisfactory: Tessa from Detroit was off the air.