Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Who's Your City? revisited

Who's Your City? is a book by Richard Florida, which makes the point that your ability to work, to do great work, to enjoy life, is dependent on where you live, and the place qualities of the location have to be maximized if not curated (we planners call that "planning") to ensure that cities are relevant and competitive.

Relatedly, I have a bad habit of watching police procedural tv shows (like CSI: Miami and such) even though they are formulaic and I joke that after watching CSI: Miami or the CSI in Las Vegas or any of the Law and Order shows, why would people want to visit those cities, since the tv shows make it out that you can get killed there so easily and in odd, sick, unusual ways. E.g., almost everybody killed in CSI: Miami episodes are Caucasian, yet almost 70% of the population there is of Latino origin, etc.

Anyway, I can relate to the concerns of elected officials in Brooklyn concerned about the forthcoming Oxygen Network tv show "Brooklyn 11223" will be a reality tv show nightmare depicting Brooklyn in various terrible ways. See "B'klyn 'Ridge' brawl" from the New York Post. From the article:

“They’re crass, crude and cartoonish about Bay Ridge, and they couldn’t be more wrong about Bay Ridge women,” said City Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Brooklyn). “It shows women who act and speak as if they were in the era of ‘Saturday Night Fever.’ ”

Gentile is so worried that the new Oxygen network series — called “Brooklyn 11223” — will spawn a new Brooklyn version of Snooki that he led a rally against the program yesterday.

“This is not what Bay Ridge is about and this not what Bay Ridge wants or needs,” he said. “We refuse to stand by and let Hollywood portray . . . Bay Ridge in this disparaging light.”

The tv shows about communities, from the police procedurals to reality shows to the travel shows featuring Anthony Bourdain, etc., shape how the hundreds of millions of people outside your community see your city, how the press covers your community, etc.

On a separate note, I think the Oxygen tv programmers create horrid programs that debase American society, e.g., all those "Real Housewives" shows, "Bad Girls," etc., but what can you do? They are cheaper to produce and people watch them.

These shows* definitely impact "Who's Your City?" in deleterious ways, and the images they create take on a life of their own beyond reality, not that "the world" of the "Real Housewives of DC" was anywhere close to being "my world" even if one of the "characters" lives less than a couple miles away from me.

But people too often forget that tv is tv, and often is far from a real depiction of "reality."

* DK if you remember the "Hell's Grannies" skits on Monty Python. I always joke about Suzanne's mother and her contemporaries (they are in their mid-70s) or people from the first Leisure World retirement community starring in counter-episodes of the "Real Real Housewives of Orange County".

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