How might we support a sustainable creative class in Calgary?
In 2016, the price of oil hit its lowest selling price since 2008. This loss in Calgary’s largest revenue generating industry resulted in a doubled rate of unemployment and a desperate call for a diversified economy. Calgary’s instability, in addition to the emergence of technology hubs and diverse industries in other cities, prompted skilled Calgarians to pursue new opportunities outside of our city.
This migration is referred to as brain drain, which limits the development of Calgary’s creative class – a socioeconomic group that values their quality of place and engages in complex problem solving. In Calgary, many locally-grown businesses and professionals are relocating, which limits the likelihood of future opportunities and innovation that attract the creative class. However, the city is ready to intervene through municipal programs, economic development, and business support.
How might we better support local engagement in innovative and creative outlets within Calgary’s social framework?
About half a century ago, urbanist researcher Jane Jacobs, emphasized the relationship between the place, as physical form, and the web of collective population. Though studying urban spaces from the perspective of the individual, Jacobs’ developed the concept of urban-diversity. And, by comparing biological diversity to urban diversity to urban diversity, Jacobs defined that it is, in fact, the people and the communities that make a city’s ecology thrive.
Urban diversity is evident in multiple levels of a city’s composition: individual perspective and experience, community engagement, and cultural association. A city’s local culture is dynamic, not static, and therefore, change and development require both protection and conservation. Calgary is currently in a unique opportunity for growth and development of its actual urban diversity through maximizing interaction and interchange in all levels of community relationships.