What does "creative-type" mean? Does categorizing individuals as "creatives" do more harm than good as we try to promote creativity? What can we do to foster creativity and move things forward in St. Louis' creative world?
These were just a few of the questions that led to provocative conversation at the September 23 URBANEXUS discussion "Livable St. Louis: What it Takes to Retain and Attract Creative Individuals." The discussion was part of Next American City's national URBANEXUS salon series and was co-hosted by Trailnet and local partners Great Rivers Greenway, STL-Style, Urban Land Institute, Metropolis St. Louis, and Will Cycle for Charity.
One-hundred people attended the event at Left Bank Books' downtown discussion to hear local panelists share their views on the role of creativity and the people who create in St. Louis. Panelists included Jasmin Aber, adjunct professor at Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and shrinking cities researcher; Alderman Antonio French; Leslie Proud, Vice President of Metropolis St. Louis; Galen Gondolfi, non-profit community development practitioner who supports community-based reinvestment on Cherokee Street; and myself who provided perspective on the role of bikeable and walkable communities.
Trailnet invited Next American City to bring URBANEXUS to St. Louis because we knew that such a discussion could inject vital energy into the community of St. Louisans who are working hard to make St. Louis more livable. We are happy to report that this is exactly what happened. We had great attendance, the crowd was up for an extended Q&A session, and people continue to talk about ways to have similar discussions in the future.
The energy from URBANEXUS should not be squandered, but built upon. One way we are hopeful the discussions can continue is through the regional collaboration Livable St. Louis, initiated through a partnership between Trailnet and St. Louis University. The collaborative will bring people together from a variety of sectors and fields to share and implement best-practices for built environment and policy change as a strategy for fostering active lifestyles and healthy eating. Livable St. Louis is slated to launch in early 2010.