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Putting Geniuses In Their Place(s)

Eric Weiner's "The Geography of Genius" offers a delightful, if limited, analysis of cities throughout history where "genius" has arisen and offers inspiration for planners who want to make cities more than just places to live and do business.
March 4, 2016, 8am PST | Josh Stephens | @jrstephens310
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"Taken seriously, 'Geography of Genius' is a troubling book, lauding a scant few individuals throughout history who, by a combination of talent, relative privilege, and good fortune qualify as 'geniuses.' Fortunately, we don’t have to take it that seriously. Its strength and weakness that it is not a rigorous scholarly review but rather a romp through human achievement – and the cities where it has taken place."

"Weiner explains the intuitive notion that most forms of genius require collaboration and, by extension, urban agglomeration. Tech entrepreneurs require programmers and funders. Philosophers require other philosophers. One of Weiner’s refrains is that genius emerges according to what a populace values. Weiner writes, “What is honored in a [place] will be cultivated there.” Viennese love their classical music the way San Franciscans love their convenience."

"The cluster of cities between San Jose and San Francisco 'is not a city,' Weiner writes; 'it is suburban sprawl, which all the California sunshine and digital pixie dust can't hide.' Its success seems to undermine all those nice notions of strolling and quaffing. Indeed, if drinking and walking are key to genius, most modern American cities are doomed."

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Published on Thursday, February 25, 2016 in California Planning & Development Report
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