Okay, before I get in to this, let me just say that I am about fifty percent ambivalent on the St. Petersburg Times becoming the Tampa Bay Times, with about ten percent of me not liking it for sentimental reasons, and another five percent thinking it's a dopey name because Tampa Bay is a body of water. Unless the newspaper readership of mullet, tarpon, bull sharks, grouper, stingrays, and snook is way higher than I figured, this could be the wrong geographical marker to use.
This post, I guess, is about the remaining thirty-five percent of my brain that thinks this may be a good idea... or at least the signal of a good idea.
I read a book for work a few weeks ago called The Great Reset by Richard Florida.
You need to read this book. The general concept of the book is that after every economic crash, there is a sort of creative restructuring, a community-based "reset" that builds from the ground up. It affects our working world, the things we do for enjoyment. It affects who we are. It has a direct impact on our demographics and geography, and Mr. Florida uses plenty of fantastic examples to illustrate his point.
From the Amazon description, where you can order the book:
In The Great Reset, bestselling author and economic development expert Richard Florida provides an engaging and sweeping examination of these previous economic epochs, or "resets." He distills the deep forces that have altered physical and social landscapes and eventually reshaped economies and societies. Looking toward the future, Florida identifies the patterns that will drive the next Great Reset and transform virtually every aspect of our lives—from how and where we live, to how we work, to how we invest in individuals and infrastructure, to how we shape our cities and regions. Florida shows how these forces, when combined, will spur a fresh era of growth and prosperity, define a new geography of progress, and create surprising opportunities for all of us. Among these forces will be.
- new patterns of consumption, and new attitudes toward ownership that are less centered on houses and cars
- the transformation of millions of service jobs into middle class careers that engage workers as a source of innovation
- new forms of infrastructure that speed the movement of people, goods, and ideas
- a radically altered and much denser economic landscape organized around "megaregions" that will drive the development of new industries, new jobs, and a whole new way of life
It's those last four bullet-points that are at the heart of the matter, here.
You know, I admit it: I was a bit depressed after reading The Great Reset, because when Mr. Florida is talking about the places well-established for the future, it's pretty much the opposite of everything you see in Pinellas County.
Things like high-speed rail and effective mass transit interconnecting large mega-regions. Large swaths of creative communities, well-planned growth, progressive business landscapes.
Instead, one of the biggest road blocks I see to the necessary smart future laid out by Mr. Florida for our region is our strange marriage to local fiefdoms. I am coming to the argument about special taxing districts carefully, because I work for one -- a necessary one. I don't say that because I work here, though I like my job. I say it because I think local control of tax dollars for services to at-risk children and families is a good idea. That's what makes the marriage strange: in some instances, our governmental constructs make sense. In others, they don't. How many individual cities are there in Pinellas County alone? Along with fire districts? Hospital districts? The water districts? Each of thse relative complex governmental bodies is serving convoluted geographical regions that grew out of the scrub of horse country and orange groves.
And that's just governmental solutions.
I've seen some pretty angry reactions out there to the name change. Peter Schorsch has some NSFW words for Times Chairman and CEO Paul Tash. It is similar to the Bah! Humbugger-isms of Doc Webb at the Patch.
To be fair, I would say that there are exceptions to the idea that Pinellas (and Tampa and Hillsborough County) have no hope with respect to the yardstick offered by The Great Reset. Go to downtown St. Petersburg and wander around. Stop off at the Museum of Fine Arts. Find the Dale Chihuly exhibit (it's outstanding). Go to the American Stage, go to something at the Palladium. Go to Cassis (and have a drink with Peter), or any of the other fantastic restaurants around there.
Go to Bayfront Hospital and get some of the best care in the nation (I mean, if you're sick or something).
Go to Fort Desoto -- not techinically in St. Petersburg, of course -- and find some of the best beaches in the world.
Pick up a newspaper and read a newspaper. It'll likely be the widest-read in Florida, and one of the best in the southeast United States.
As of January 1, it'll say "Tampa Bay Times" a the top.
Like I say, I'm largely ambivalent on this, with tendencies towards thinking it's a good idea if it helps get us thinking in terms of a changing community.
Well, maybe Mr. Tash and the gang at the St. Petersb... er, the Tampa Bay Times read The Great Reset, too. Maybe they understand that the City of St. Petersburg is not really in a competition with Tampa (the name of the city as opposed to that body of water we mentioned earlier).
Things have changed, spurred largely by the global economic depression we continue to weather. We have changed, whether we wanted to or not. Sure, I love Gulfport. I love being in Gulfport. But as much as I enjoy being a part of this quirky, odd little town, I also enjoy being a part of the St. Petersburg community, and yes, the Tampa Bay community.