Wednesday, September 17, 2014

[city] love in the time of [young professionals]

young professional organizations are wonderful community groups springing up all over the country.  they’re usually started by local city chambers for a several reasons. first of all, many of the older chamber members, baby boomers, are retiring at a large rate and they need to replace them with new members. starting a young professional organization is a wonderful way to attract younger membership and get them exposed to the chamber.  also having a "yp" group in place is a great asset to have when you’re trying to attract large businesses to your city. these groups also take on service projects which benefit cities in many ways.  wichita has its own young professionals group filled with great people who are passionate about making wichita a better place.  these groups are usually made up of highly educated people who have landed good jobs.  it’s not hard to see why cities, when talking about the future, always mention how important it is to attract this demographic.  highly educated people with disposable income are very attractive as far as city economics are concerned

but what about highly talented people with little income?

there seems to be less attention paid to how important artists, musicians, creatives, freelancers and entrepreneurs are to a city.  a group of people who don’t normally consider themselves “professionals” or lack the free time or money to participate in such a group. this is a huge oversight on a cities part.

in his book “for the love of cities” peter kageyama writes about a lecture he attended where he heard pier giorgio di cicco speak. during his speech, di cicco said,

“arts and culture are what make a city fall in love with itself.’ 

reflecting on this quote gives you a wonderful perspective when visiting other cities. what makes new orleans great? is it the "young professionals" or rather the jazz artists, diverse culture and eclectic cuisine. what about austin with its “keep austin weird” slogan? the tag line for the city is meant to reflect its culture of accepting unique and artistic expression. young people are flocking to nashville because the city is filled with musicians trying to make it. local shops and dive bars are constantly filled with wonderful music. san fransisco has always been a meca for all types of artists and denver's craft beer is world renown.  portland has such a collection of artistic, creative and unique people it spawned the tv show, portlandia.

artists, creatives, freelancers and entrepreneurs are the common factor making these cities unique. young professionals give a city substance, artists give a city its flavor.

young professionals can do a great job populating a city and greasing the economic gears, but as i read and hear about where this group of millennials want to live, it seems they’re attracted to unique and interesting cities; places artists and other creatives have worked hard to make that way.

both groups are important to city development. however living in wichita, a city currently reviving it's downtown, it seems they are increasingly focused on the "young professional" aspect. if they're shopping for a unique city, they need to wheel their "idea cart" out the suit and stiletto aisles and head all the way back to the art supplies and musical instruments.  there they'll find the “unprofessionals.” those individuals brewing coffee in the morning and pouring beer at night. those individuals thriving on artistic expression and creative endeavors with little payment.  they’re the ones who are going to make a city unique. they’re the ones who will make a city attractive and a place worth moving to.  they’re the ones who will make a city “loveable.”  a quality hard to measure economically...but easy to feel emotionally.




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