Sleep bookends

The last thing I read Sunday before turning off the nightlight was was Frank Bures’ essay "The Fall of the Creative Class" in the new, promising debut of Thirty Two magazine. The piece argues that jobs, family, and friends, among other factors, all play a more important role than “creativity” in attracting young, innovative professionals to a region.

The first thing I read with my coffee this morning was a Star Tribune piece about the rise of Lowertown, an artsy neighborhood in downtown St. Paul that’s seen a boom in new condos, apartments, bars and restaurants in recent years. This paragraph jumped out in particular:

"Now it’s a 24-hour neighborhood," said Terri Cermak, whose architectural firm has been in the Northwestern Building at 275 E. 4th St. for about 15 years. She and her husband, Todd Rhoades, said they chose the location for the price and the mojo. "There are so many artists down here, it’s a really nice creative atmosphere," Rhoades said.

At a glance, the anecdote seems to support Florida’s creative class theory. But the article doesn’t say where Cermak and Rhoades came from and where they might of gone instead. If it weren’t for Lowertown’s hip-ness, would they be in Portland, or on Grand Avenue? Maybe creativity matters, but mostly at the local/regional level? Could it be a zero-sum game for a city or metro area?

In thinking about my migration, jobs and family/friends have certainly been the most important drivers. I moved to Waterloo, Iowa, and Sioux Falls, SD, for jobs, and then back to Minneapolis for family and friends. I love the local music scene, but would it keep me from taking a better job elsewhere? Probably not. But family and friends would.

The reading also made me think about my own neighborhood, Northeast Minneapolis, and the role artists have played in its recent revival. When people ask my wife and I about our neighborhood, we brag about our great neighbors along with the arts, the restaurants, the festivals, all of that creative economy stuff.

But thinking back to why we bought a house where we did, the most important factors were probably affordability, safety, closeness to the center, access to transit, and bike/walkability. Access to arts never consciously entered the discussion. We wanted a good, affordable neighborhood in a convenient location.

Maybe people aren’t moving to Northeast or Lowertown because of artists, but instead they’re moving to these places for the same reasons as artists. Maybe artists are just better at recognizing good neighborhoods before the rest of us. Maybe creativity isn’t causing migration, but it’s just getting an early jump.

motherjones:

think-progress:

climateadaptation:

“On Craigslist, Coal Lobby Offers $50 To Wear Pro-Coal T-Shirts At Regulatory Meeting.”

Bringing out the fake supporters, since they apparently can’t find real ones. 

Boom.

Does this 1903 oil painting foreshadow 21st century global water conflicts? Brian Richter, co-leader of The Nature Conservancy’s global freshwater team, has started sharing the image in his presentations, including one Tuesday at the University of Minnesota’s Solutions Summit (which I covered for Finance & Commerce). Frederic Remington painted “The Fight for the Watering Hole” almost 110 years ago, but it’s not far fetched to see our future in it. Water conflicts are already a reality. (The Pacific Institute is tracking them here.) As pollution, population growth and climate change strain the world’s freshwater, we can probably expect to see more standoffs over our remaining supplies.

Does this 1903 oil painting foreshadow 21st century global water conflicts? Brian Richter, co-leader of The Nature Conservancy’s global freshwater team, has started sharing the image in his presentations, including one Tuesday at the University of Minnesota’s Solutions Summit (which I covered for Finance & Commerce). Frederic Remington painted “The Fight for the Watering Hole” almost 110 years ago, but it’s not far fetched to see our future in it. Water conflicts are already a reality. (The Pacific Institute is tracking them here.) As pollution, population growth and climate change strain the world’s freshwater, we can probably expect to see more standoffs over our remaining supplies.

Why are skilled manufacturing jobs going unfilled? It could be because companies are being too picky. Maybe they don’t want an older worker, or maybe they don’t want to invest in training that could help a worker round out his/her skills. Or maybe America’s manufacturers have shrunk their potential applicant pool by shipping all manner of manufacturing work - skilled and unskilled - to Mexico or China or other low wage regimes. The message, intended or not, is that those skills are not valued.
Worker “skills gap” also about pay gap

Reading coverage of yesterday’s Minnesota jobs summit — much of which focused on a reported “skills gap” between unemployed Minnesotans and available jobs — I was reminded of something state economic researcher Steve Hine told me last year while I was reporting on the state’s so-called “IT talent gap.”

Steve Hine, research director for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, says he sees very little evidence of an IT talent gap. “I get a little bit cynical, perhaps, about some of these trade associations and chambers of commerce indicating that there’s not enough workers with the right skills, that they can’t hire anybody,” Hine says. “We see very little evidence of that, and what is always neglected in those statements is: ‘I can’t find anybody—at the wage I’m offering.’”

Traci Tapani, owner of a metal fabrication company in Stacy, Minn., tells the Star Tribune she was surprised she couldn’t find a skilled worker for $36,000 a year. Columnist Eric Wieffering, who focuses on the need to invest in education and workers, quotes JobsNow Coalition director Kris Jacobs saying: “Just because you can’t find a new truck for $10,000 doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of trucks.”

And if we want more trucks? Back to Hine:

Job opportunities and earning potential drive students’ decisions to choose one field over another, Hine says: “Whether or not there’s a shortage or a surplus in eight years depends largely on how responsive these wage offers and acceptances are to the changing conditions.”