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Mariah McKay

Quoted from "Nation of Rebels: Why Counter Culture Became Consumer Culture" by Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter, Pg. 202-203

What people yearn for these days is no longer an old-fashioned "status" job, like being a doctor. The "cool job" has become the holy grail of the modern economy.


To attract talented professionals, it is no longer sufficient for a city to have a low crime rate, clean air and water, decent public transportation and a handful of museums and galleries. Now they need to cater to the specific needs of the creative class, which means the city needs a large-scale recycling program, plenty of funky cafes, vegetarian restaurants and specialty stores selling a full array of organic products. It needs a diverse, tolerant population with plenty of immigrants and gay people, and a thriving club and music scene, and it must have quick and easy access to areas for mountain-biking, rock climbing and sea-kayaking.


As Florida has persuasively argued, with the rising power of the creative class, clustered as it is in a handful of "cool cities," the United States is rapidly sorting itself geographically along status lines-except that status hierarchy is now based on cool, not class.


Alright Spokane, NOW is the time to wake up and kick it into 'cool gear' or you can kiss your much needed "new economy" goodbye!


Richard Florida is a hack.

Here's a secret folks. I'm 28, an artist, a designer, a coveted member of Florida's "creative class". As such I know plenty of other designers and artists and guess what, we all want good jobs. Sure veggie restaurants and an amazing music scene are great but we secretly care about stable jobs with good benefits that pay well. People might say "oh Portland is so cool" but the reason they move there is to work at Nike. Same with Seattle. There's a million great companies that pay well there. That's why people move there. Then by the very fact that you have several thousand creative types living in an area - bam - you get interesting arts and culture.

If anybody thinks Boise's boom has to do with art and culture they're missing the boat. It's because of Micron and good paying jobs. That's what gets us young folks to move. Everyone I know would move for a job, not to be around a lot of gay people.


Well stated MK!!! Why should we try and build an economy around a group of people that are typically migrant in nature. By that I mean that they can easily leave the area, they have very few roots planted, and are less willing to care about the local area/economy. If things change or head for a down-turn, they are highly likely to leave rather than stick it out and stay. Now, with that stated.....I would like to see a greater balance of various demographics in the city, but to suggest that we should cater towards a small and minimal impact demographic is a little silly.


There is a simple reason why service jobs will never be paid as well as manufacturing jobs were, I think. It's an employer's market out there. It is so easy, especially in urban markets, to get cheap and untrained help in service jobs. Companies have no incentive to train their employees, if it doesn't work out they can always hire a new batch.

And the "creative city" is, though theoretically interesting, a very good justification for politicians to baldly pursue the goal of muscling the lower middle classes out of downtown in favor of the upwardly-mobile "creatives" and the upwardly-mobile business and engineering types who like to be near them.

I see it happening in Hamburg, my friends tell me about this dynamic in Seattle, and it gives me the willies to think about Spokane embracing these kinds of ideas. Because there's no better way to drive out young people out of downtown than to take affordable neighborhoods and glam them up so the "creative class" wants to be there.

And at that point, real urban subcultures and creative milieus give way to a chic facade of design boutiques and ritzy bars.

Sorry for being so vehement, but this is the exact reason I've been priced out of my old neighborhood.

genuinely concerned


I can deeply sympathize with your emphasis on the importance of well-paying, stable jobs that include benefits. However, your example introduces some chicken-and-the-egg logic. Many people agree that Nike choose to locate in Portland precisely because it could then attract top talent with the type of regional quality of life described above. So which came first? Who knows! Probably a combination of both.

Secondly "everyone you know" is clearly not "everyone I know". My entire company and my OK-paying local 'creative class' job is threatened every time one of our software developers decides that Portland is a "cooler" place to live. Just recently we lost just such an employee to Portland even BEFORE he had a job or an apartment there! When asked why he wanted to leave he said, "Portland has way better bars." Call him stupid, but the local economy is risking over $8 million in business if this likely situation happens again; that's an impact you just can't ignore.

Furthermore, we haven't been able to recruit software talent from Seattle or elsewhere over the past year because these prospective knowledge workers SPECIFICALLY STATE that they would NEVER want to live in Spokane. There must be some way to challenge this detrimental perception that won't risk the kind of undesirable gentrification described by Kate.

Lastly, a personal question: Are you a vegetarian? I doubt it. Yesterday I came home in a bout of frustration to start scanning the San Francisco Craig's list after an awful dining experience with family on the North side. Maybe this was just the straw that broke the camel's back, but I wouldn't expect a non-vegetarian to understand this kind of dilemma...

Re: rob

If you replace the words "group of people" in your comment with the words "multi-national corporation" your statement would be just as accurate. Seems to me that large scale corporations have even less of a stake in the local economy than the people that would theoretically be working at them. Money moves around a LOT faster then people with children attending local schools, etc. Just something to think about.

Re: Kate

I applaud your desire for authenticity and affordability. That said, I urge you to read "Nation of Rebels" because it will challenge your distinction between "real urban subcultures" and a "chic facade of design boutiques and ritzy bars" - in a constructive and enlightening kind of way.


Er, GC, Nike is located in Portland because that is where it was founded (actually, in Beaverton), by two native Oregonians.

Your friend may well return from Portland after he's paid rent there for a few months. :-)

genuinely concerned

6 months later and I'm still waiting . . . 6 years later and ALL of my high school friends are still happy to stomach the (much) higher rents outside of Eastern Washington.

The Nike example just shows that retention of talent is important - if you have brilliant entrepreneurs, then the quality of life factor keeps them local. I still think Spokane could do a lot to reverse the brain drain.


I agree with Mariah's comments. The communities which "wake up" and "kick it into cool gear" have a much greater chance of attracting the individuals who have the means, education and resources to enhance the local economy while providing the variety and diversity the creative class craves.

I'm not so sure I would consider myself to be one of the "creative" class of people Mr. Florida refers to, but I am currently researching places, within the States, to relocate to.

I have followed this blog for quite some time, as well other blogs from cities I am possibly interested in. As an outsider looking in, Spokane appears to be evolving and heading in a direction which appeals to me. Its cost of living has not reached the exorbitant levels as cities like Bend, Portland and Seattle have reached. Its near the outdoors with downhill skiing just a few hours away. The revitalization of Spokane's urban core seems to be off to a good start. The Kendall Yards project, as well as the other smaller, smart, urban infill projects currently taking place, fit the type of community in which I would like to live.

Just as everyone else values safe neighborhoods, good school systems, clean air and water, these are not enough to draw the type of individuals who compliment and make a community a better place to live. If Spokane is not willing to embrace these "new" ideals which are necessary in building a community which is attractive, smart and innovative, other communites will most certainly take the initiative and do so.

I encourage the people of Spokane to keep the momentum moving forward regarding the direction their city is heading. The potential Spokane has is just now beginning to take shape.


the service trade in TO is an entirely different beast than it is here in the 'Kan. For one thing, the volume of commuter traffic TO sees creates a demand FOR the service trade since so many people travel there from outlying regions for work everyday.

Because Spokane's citizens live AND work in the same spot you essentially then have to create a service that won't go stagnant. And when I think of some of the places Spokane has, it's done quite well at that. (as an aside if Captain Juicy's EVER goes out of business I will never speak to Spokane again.)

But even though Spokane has a lot to pat itself on the back for, a lot more has to change before those same service jobs become well paying service jobs. You increase the pay, you increase the price...and as it is most Spokanites are doing their best to keep afloat.

As to the ninny who ran off to PDX "for the bars,: either someone didn't give him an adequate tour or he didn't really want to be here anyway.

El Corte

Ah the service industry- you know Spokane's lack of jobs has finally killed you when the HIRING sign at the Taco Bell drive-thru is starting to look like a real career opportunity. Free meals! Free uniforms! Sweet! I'll take a Fiesta platter and a job application please!

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