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Dr. Richard Florida speaks with Urban Studies students on THE DIVIDED CITY

Dr. Richard Florida speaks with Urban Studies students on THE DIVIDED CITY: And the Shape of the New Metropolis, a report from the Martin Prosperity Institute

The Urban Studies Program at Innis College hosted Dr. Florida in a discussion of the recently released report, The Divided City. The report, co-authored by former Urban Study Program students, Patrick Adler and Taylor Brydges, examines the “new geography of class in America’s largest cities and metropolises”. Centred on detailed maps of the class divide in America’s largest cities, this report adds a complex new picture of the geography of class divisions in contemporary American cities.

For more on the report, click here.

We asked two students in attendance to reflect on the event:

2nd year Urban Studies student Veronica Alastre
divided city

It was 5:10pm on December 2, 2014 at the Innis College Events room where undergrad students and professors of Urban Studies gathered excitedly upon the arrival of Dr. Richard Florida. He was on-campus to conduct a seminar about his new research. He is the ultimate Rock Star of Urban Studies. When he walked in, I had to admit I was star-struck! As an Urban Studies Major, I was thrilled that he was about to grace us with his presence. After learning about his theories in the classroom I couldn’t believe that I actually had the opportunity to see him in the flesh. I’ve had to do readings written by him in class, I’ve had to memorize his theories for my exams, and now I got to hear from the man himself behind The Creative Class.

He presented his new research study The Divided City which discusses trends of urban division and economic segregation within the city. His theory of The Divided City describes that the city is divided in many different ways both economically and socially. Specifically, there are geographic division and urban divide trends among high-income individuals and low-income individuals. He argues that this class division within the city is not random; the variation in income appears evidently as “patchwork” in the city. The Divided City urban issue is present in New York, Los Angeles, and even Toronto.

Florida explains that the city has become a Divided City because both the poor and rich are being attracted to the city core; within these city limits, further economic and social inequality is being emphasized. Other factors include how affluent people congregate close to institutions, universities and the old industrial district. There is also clustering around transit lines and waterfronts. This creates the main dilemma within the Divided City which is identified to be the Crisis of Prosperity. This crisis is explained to be the result of the patterns of clustering being established. Florida states that, “The clustering force is the most powerful economic mode. Through knowledge and skill accumulation, the clustering force magnifies and is dividing us.” His solution for the Divided City is to build housing that cater to both the rich and poor, increase minimum wage, and develop better transit systems.

I was able to ask him about issues regarding this inequality by citing an example from my hometown of Vancouver, BC. I brought up the issue of homelessness located in the Downtown Eastside or Skid Row in Vancouver which is a concrete evidence of the city’s inequality and economic divide. His suggests that the re-integration and interaction of the affluent with the poor could accommodate growth and blur the lines of division among the classes. The issue of homelessness relates to the productiveness of the political landscape. The role of urban planners, like what I hope to become one day, is to find a solution towards these divisions within the city in order to create an equal and sustainable urban space for all.

 

3rd year Urban Studies student Dilan Sen

IMG_3423Some people my age anticipate the day they would meet their favorite singer, actor, hockey player etc., but for a while now, I’ve been looking forward to the day I’d meet Dr. Richard Florida. On December 2nd, the Urban Studies Program at Innis College held an event featuring Dr. Florida, where he discussed his recently published report “The Divided City”. The discussion was moderated by Professor Richard DiFrancesco. We also had Patrick Adler, one of the co-authors of the report (and an Urban Studies alumni) who joined the discussion via Skype from Los Angeles where he is currently working on his PhD.

As someone that’s been waiting all term for a chance to meet and hear Richard Florida speak in person, all I can say is that this was a fantastic event! Dr. Florida was an amazing speaker, very funny and down to earth. One of the many things I liked was the fact that we could tell how much he appreciated the work his students do with him. He mentioned his two interns a couple of times during the presentation and described how he learns from his students as much as they learn from him. I could have listened to Dr. Florida describe his research and work for hours!. At the end of the event, I had the chance to talk to him for a bit, which was very exciting and made me even more proud to have chosen Urban Studies!

P.S. Richard Florida is now following me on Twitter!

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