Friday, August 3, 2012

Who's Your City? by Richard Florida

Vintage Canada, c2009

Living and working in the greater Toronto area, there has been much consideration (and debate) over the last few years about what kind of cities and urban spaces we collectively want – what kind of cities should Toronto and Mississauga be?  What should our waterfront look like, how should certain areas be redeveloped, what kinds of transit, roads, bike paths etc. would make our cities great?

I heard an interview once between Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and CBC’s Matt Galloway, where Galloway asked Mayor Ford what he loved about Toronto.  I thought that this was a great question to ask a mayor, and I was keen to hear his answer, unfortunately what we got instead was a few of his usual talking points – finances and cleaning up graffiti. [Story]  

Richard Florida is much more in tune about what makes a city great.  He states, “Toronto is one of the very few places in the world with the capacity to become the model of a full-blown, creative, sustainable, and inclusive community.”  

In “Who’s Your City,” Florida outlines a methodology to evaluate cities based on a series of community attributes: physical and economic security, basic services, leadership, openness, and aesthetics.  These concepts make for a good book club discussion, especially if club members live in different communities or lifestyles.  This book could also benefit from discussions timed around municipal elections.

  1. Are Richard Florida’s theories about a “creative class” only applicable to a pampered elite?
  2. Do you feel part of a “mega-region?”
  3. Is there a clustering force within cities – polarizing people by income/class?
  4. Does “place” matter?  What do you love about your city?
  5. Does owning real estate lock people into a place or lifestyle?
  6. Happiness and satisfaction is more than money, so how much of a person’s happiness comes from where they are?
  7. Do cities/communities have an overall personality? i.e. do certain temperaments fit better in certain places?
  8. How many times have you moved in your life?  How much control did you have about where you would live?
  9. If you were looking to move, would this book help you decide where to go?
  10. What could Richard Florida say about your city?

The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the authors, and don't necessarily reflect the opinions of the Mississauga Library System or the City of Mississauga.

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