Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Who's Your City by Richard Florida

Who's Your City by Richard Florida is my Kewaunee Library Book Club pick for February. It is an interesting look into what Florida considers one of the most important choices of your life, where you live. How does this impact your life, why do people settle where they do, how does our changing world impact where you should live? All of these questions and more were explored in this book.

This book had a lot of very interesting information. I really liked my urban planning class I took at Marquette and this book was along those lines. While Florida tried to make the book as interesting and modern as possible by relating things to pop culture, at times the book really dragged along. For instance, there were tables and graphics that the text explained in great boring detail. You can see it for yourself by looking at the table, you don't need to write it out too. I wanted to edit those parts myself! Overall though, it was a very interesting book and I recommend it to anyone who is interesting in moving and is wondering where would be a good place to live. One word of warning, the book is more about urban living and not rural living.

Some interesting points in the book:

1. Florida argues that we live in a "spiky" world where certain places have more relevance and opportunities than others. These spikes are in "Mega-Regions." One "Mega-Region" of interest to me is the "Chi-Pitts" region that spreads from Minneapolis to Milwaukee (via Madison and Green Bay) to Chicago to Detroit to Toledo to Pittsburg. This encompases a huge area and means that Ben and I were both born in the same Mega-Region and that although I have moved hundreds of miles from home, I still live in the same Mega-Region I was born in.

2. Florida argues that people are more successful if they are mobile rather than "rooted" to one spot. Although being close to family provides significant benefits, being able to live where you have more opportunties can provide more significant benefits.

3. Florida discusses the rise of the creative class (which includes engineers) and how while manufacturing is decreasing in the U.S., the creative class is increasing. In other words, it is our creativity that is the future for the U.S. I buy this - Ben and I have discussed this for years.

4. Florida argues that cities have personalities too that fit certain types of people.

5. Florida discusses the three big moves that people make, when you are first out of college, when you have kids, and when you are an empty-nester or retired person. Ben and I moved to Milwaukee for professional reasons and Kewaunee when we had kids. We are following in the path of this book - I guess we just need to move again when we are retired or empty-nesters!

6. Florida argues that creative people cluster together in cities or mega-regions and that you are more creative with like minded people around. I am unsure of this. I do like discussing things with fellow engineers, but I also work from my home in a rural community and do just fine!

7. Florida has ranked communities across the country on how they fit into the three big moves you make in life. Green Bay and surrounding regions are ranked high on the best value for families with children - so it looks like Ben and I made the correct move! Madison, WI ranks high on all of the lists so no matter if you are a single person, a family, or an empty-nester, Madison is the place to be!

Florida also has an interesting website that leads you through his process on determining what cities are the best places for you to live. For a lark I entered Kewaunee, Houghton, Madison, Kalamazoo, and Escanaba for myself. It said I should definitely consider staying in Kewaunee or moving to Madison. It also said that Houghton was a maybe. It said I should not move to Kalamazoo or Escanaba.


  1. Go Madison! Maybe that's why we didn't move! Though, we'll probably move (within Madison) when we have a bigger family and would like a little more space.

  2. I think that is why - since Madison is a great place for people of all ages! :-) Maybe Ben and I will move there when we are old . . . but the book did say that natural beauty draws people - which is one of the main reasons we love Kewaunee!

  3. Such an interesting book...I have been wanting to get my hands on it for a long time! Since writing the book Florida has moved to Toronto in Canada and apparently has revised the book so there is now a Canadian version as well. I live just outside Toronto and cannot wait to see how he perceives my city. Thanks for the review!