Find Good Black Men, (2010); Kasumi experimental media artist and recent Guggenheim
recipient; Steven Tatar entrepreneur Ohio Knitting Mills, Internet designer and former
creative head of American Greetings; Ayad Rahim, New York Times Blogger with a focus
on the Middle East; Laura Paglin, filmmaker and documentarian; Marc Jaffe, former
Seinfeld comedy writer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist; and Alan McElroy screenwriter
whose latest project, Man and Wife (2011), was picked up in a bidding war with X-Men
producer Ralph Winter. He’s currently working on three television pilots. You can view all
their work in the companion Appreciative Reflections.
Richard Florida’s solution for post-recession future growth is the encouragement of mega
regions, “the great mega-regions that already power the economy, and the smaller, talent-
attracting innovation centers inside them places like Silicon Valley, Boulder, Austin and
the North Carolina Research Triangle” while suggesting that the challenge in Rust Belt cities
is “managing population decline without becoming blighted” and suggests which I agree to
some extent, “the economy is different now. It no longer resolves around simply making
and moving things. Instead, it depends on generating and transporting ideas” (Florida,
2009, March).
In my view, we need to move beyond location and view the imagination as a way to jump-
start and fuel the economy. Cities, housing markets, and popular destinations are always
in a socially constructed flux, but creative individuals can greatly impact a city or region
wherever they are situated. Even the term “Rust Belt” starts with a deficit discourse that
does not allow people to imagine a richer, more vibrant scenario. Imagination will be the
driver of the new economy wherever people are situated. A recent book “Rust Belt Chic:
The Cleveland Anthology” captures the appeal of why creative people decide to call
Cleveland home:
America is in the grips of a budding “roots movement.” Desires for the splashy are
giving way to a longing for the past. Many are turning back toward the Rust Belt
and geographies like it to find what’s they’ve been missing. Yes, the Rust Belt is a
severe land, a disinvested land, a land of conflict. But the Rust Belt is also a land
that lacks illusions. And that is becoming attractive to folks, be they a returning
expat from Florida or a young creative type tired of the bells and whistles of
Global City, USA. This attraction is captured by the term “Rust Belt Chic”. . .
Rust Belt Chic is churches and work plants hugging the same block. It is ethnic as
hell. It is the Detroit sound of Motown. It is Cleveland punk. It is getting vintage t-
shirts and vinyl for a buck that are being sold to Brooklynites for the price of a
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