How Do Cities Foster Creativity?
Lehrer's new book, Imagine: How Creativity Works, looks at the new science of creativity, with a chapter dedicated to "the nexus of creativity and cities," a chapter which is sure to resonate with interviewer Richard Florida. Below are some interesting nuggets from the interview.
On the ways in which cities enhance creativity, Lehrer borrows from the concept of "knowledge spillovers" from Jane Jacobs:
"As Jacobs once wrote, 'By its nature, the metropolis provides what otherwise could be given only by traveling; namely, the strange.' Cities force us to interact with strangers and with the strange. They pry the mind open. And that is why they are the idea that has unleashed so many of our new ideas."
Lehrer on the irony that Silicon Valley, a hotbed for creativity and innovation, exhibits a largely suburban model of development:
"It's true that Silicon Valley looks like the West Coast antithesis of Jane Jacob's Greenwich Village. And yet, I'd argue that culture of Silicon Valley manages to replicate the essential function of a dense city, which is to foster a diversity of interactions and knowledge spillovers. As Annalee Saxenian points out in her wonderful book, Regional Advantage Silicon Valley has managed for decades to foster the sort of cross-cutting connections that are essential for innovation."