Friday, July 23, 2010

Who is my city?
(with a nod to Richard Florida)

I have been working with leaders from my city, posing the same question during my conversations: how do we define this city? Personally, I'd like to think I live in the Creative Capital of Florida–a city characterized by working artists and creative industries–but that has yet to be determined.

On a recent trip to Scotland, my partner and I enjoyed a couple weeks in Edinburgh. A historic and ancient city, it also happens to be the capital of Scotland. The new parliament building sits at the foot of the Royal Mile, just steps from Holyrood Palace. So, one naturally concludes, this city is defined by it's role as capital of Scotland. Wrong.

Upon entering the city, you are greeted by official signs proclaiming "Edinburgh: The City of Festivals". Interesting, intriguing, compelling, right?

This city defines itself through its culture offerings to the world; it's a place where millions travel every year to enjoy festivals that celebrate reading, theatre, opera, music, comedy... I think by defining their city as such, Edinburgh plants a flag that continuously challenges residents and leaders to take actions that sustain, nurture and develop those festivals. Otherwise, it's just another old city with a collection of old buildings. But the people are what make it special, and those people throw one hell of a party (several, actually).

So, who are you, St. Petersburg?

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