I did not choose to live in Davis. I chose to go to the University of California, Davis. There is a difference. I was making my choice solely based off of an institution and I did not take into consideration other factors such as number of farmers markets or proximity to the beach. I did not even visit Davis before accepting my admittance, which I guess reflects some level of apathy considering that I would be here for the next four years. But after being here for two years, I can say that I fully appreciate the beauty of Davis — for its bike culture, its support of freeform radio and small college-town charm. In two years, when I graduate, I plan on putting a little bit more thought into where I move since I do not want to rely on luck and things just working out again. The idea of staying in Davis seems unattractive to me just because I do not think I will be able to find a job that fills my pockets as deep as I want them. In two years I cannot solely base my decision off the fact that there’s a highly renowned public university here (or I could, but that would be weird), I have to go shopping for things such as “mating markets” and “job markets.”
We tend to think that there are two important decisions we make in life: there is what you do and who you marry, but many people do not take into consideration that where you live plays a big role in your general satisfaction. There is this idea that as the economy becomes more globalized, where we live matters less because we can telecommute to anything; in actuality, place matters more because people are concentrating in clusters. Clusters are geographic spaces where the intellectuals of the nation that innovate tend to congregate. The effect of clustering is positive in the sense that it brings innovative minds together and they can benefit from synergistic effects, such as having multiple job options in the same field because they are all concentrated in one area. One drawback is that it limits the amount of choice people have in terms of where they move. Instead of being able to move anywhere you want after graduating, you are probably going to take into consideration where you will be able to find a job in your field. This concern was not present thirty years ago, when there was no such thing as, for example, a concentration of computer engineers (also known as the Silicon Valley).
Richard Florida wrote about the phenomenon of clusters in his book Who’s Your City? where he traces where the best place for everything is: the best place for singles, the best place for gays and lesbians, etc. If there’s a community you are trying to find, chances are Florida has pinpointed where you should go. An extension of his book is an online forum called “Who’s Your City” where people post testimonials about where they live or ask for community feedback about particular cities they are considering moving to. After a few minutes of reading testimonials I learned that Birmingham, Alabama is getting its groove back (shoutout to Birmingham, keep up the good work) and that TJ Miller’s song “Denver” is probably accurate in terms of city pride.
I want to start a conversation about what it is going to take for people to start answering “Sacramento” when they are asked “Who’s your city?” One issue city planners are trying to address is that graduates of UC Davis are not staying in the region. They are taking their human capital elsewhere, most likely because there is a lack of easy public transportation and because people living here have been unable to establish professional ties in the region. Perhaps Sacramento needs to establish a cluster of its own, potentially using the fact that it is the capital of our state and there is a lot of political power in the area. All I know is that in two years when I weigh the pros and cons of each city, it is going to take more than a few good coffee shops to hold my interest. Can Sacramento rise to the challenge?
If you want to make a song in the style of TJ Miller, but instead as an ode to Davis, you can contact NICOLE NELSON at firstname.lastname@example.org to start brainstorming song lyrics (and costume choice).