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Creativity, Omaha, and Florida

February 26 2006 – 03:32pm

My mother recently sent me an article from the February 4th Omaha World Herald entitled Omaha: Creative, but intolerant. Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class, and other related books was the keynote speaker at Omaha’s first Young Professionals Summit. It turns out that while Omaha ranks 11th on the midsize city Creativity Index, and has a “strong technology base” (what?), Omaha ranks 155th on the tolerance scale of midsize cities. Florida(the author)’s research indicates that cities that rank high in technology, talent, and tolerance lead in innovation, and Nebraska’s being the first state to ban gay marriage doesn’t help Omaha out with that third “T.” Business leaders present and future gathered to hear what they could do about this problem.

I found this article amusing for the following reasons:

When I went to the Young Professionals Council events, I kept hearing the same things about why Omaha was so great: “it’s a great place to raise a family,” was the statement I heard most. Generally, people who get married and start a family straight out of college are not the most innovative members of society. Innovative people don’t want security – they want experiences: energy, culture, and adventure.

I think Omaha should be happy with what it is: a place that is cheap to live in, easy to get around (if you have a car), and that will remain one of the safer places to live when economic bubbles burst. There is no shortage of creative people from Omaha – some even stay there – but the experiences of creative minds struggling for stimulation in a conservative cultural vacuum are what make Conor Oberst‘s lyrics unique, and Alexander Payne‘s stories and characters richly relatable. Any forced attempts to become a creativity-friendly city will be insincere, and thus, doomed to failure.

If Omaha insists upon revolutionizing the culture of its citizens, then I offer the following suggestions:

Voilá, you have yourself a dangerous creative hotbed that will remain competitive for years to come.

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This post is filed under Books, Humor, Ideas, Society, Technology.