…NYU anthropologist Tom Looser has noticed that professionals moving through global cities tend to be indifferent to their local surroundings, local history, and local culture, and to feel little responsibility for others and for local government in these cities. I think that this is true but in a more complicated way than Looser describes. First, paradoxically, the creative classes demand “unique,” “authentic,” “local” experiences. So, they would not desire a dinner at a McDonalds or other chain restaurants. However, many restaurants, cafes, and events appear locally distinct, when, in fact, they are owned by major global investors and reflect the global demand of the “creative classes.” As a result, we see similar “local” events all around the world — outdoor movies, gallery walks, business district food fairs, etc.
Second, parts of the creative classes are in fact engaged with DC government and the larger city, but often in a hostile, superficial way. This hostile engagement also follows global patterns…. Read further