This morning I attended Creative Mornings Orlando where Craig Ustler talked about his Creative Village development project. For those not familiar Creative Village is hoping create a live, work, play community for the ‘creative class’ (think programers, designers, ect) in a distressed neighborhood. These are my thoughts coming out of todays meeting.
The talk of the creative class is unsettling to me. Classism is bad in general, and its especially bad at creating healthy communities. At the heart of the classism is elitism. We don’t just exclude the poor. We, to the extent we’re able to, distance ourselves from established power too. We complain that bank presidents and Government officials just don’t get it. We get it.
The creative class is not special, and we’re certainly not going to make any positive and meaningful contributions to our communities if we keep thinking that we are. We don’t get it, and we need to acknowledge that. We don’t get interdependence. We don’t get personal honesty and transparency. We don’t know our worth aside from our work. We don’t get that other people have worth aside from their work. We’re broken people and the things we make reflect it. Broken art is the best kind of art, but the artist has to acknowledge it to create something beautiful.
We fail to acknowledge that there is a cost associated with shaping our environments to fit our desires. We fail to acknowledge it because we won’t be the ones paying the cost. We hold up Brooklyn as the model for creating a community of creative people, but we don’t tell the stories of the people that lived there for generations and now have been displaced. I’d recommend checking out the trailer for my Brooklyn to see the other side of the story there.
This is how the story plays out when we start our development work with places instead of people. If people are being dignified and given access to the means of production we don’t have to worry about building buildings. They’ll build them themselves. We’re not primarily interested in developing people in our innercity though. If we’re honest we’ll admit that we don’t want a thriving indigenously-led authentic community in Parramore because we don’t think we’d be welcomed there and that makes us uncomfortable. This is the exact same feeling that the residences of Parramore have about creative village.