Millennial City: How a new generation can save the future, Ch6-4

Millennial City: How a new generation can save the future, Ch6-4

November 15th, 2012 | Posted in Millennial City

This book, Millennial City is being released first as a serial blog. The book is a collaboration with Dennis Walsh and this blog is Part 4 of Chapter 6. To those who made recommendations on title possibilities, thank you! Chapter 6 begins the second half of the book, which we will publish as an e-book when the serialization is completed. The book grew out of conversations that Dennis and I have had about the future of cities, sustainability, and the millennial generation. We think that these three domains, if you will, are coming together to create a new future – and just in time we hope.

CHAPTER Six – Part 4
by Dennis Walsh and Glen Hiemstra

In the middle of a huge human urban living experiment, Vancouver remains the most livable city in the world. But when it comes to livability, the key to finding the easiest places to live may be to follow the students. For example, Pittsburgh’s art scene, job prospects, safety and affordability make it arguably one of the most livable cities in the country. Pittsburgh’s strong university presence bolsters its livability. Universities are large employers. Cities with universities not only have employment, they have an educated population, a youthful consuming population.

While Orlando may not be the most livable, it is among the nation’s fastest growing cities. Why? The largest industry in the world is about visiting places that are different. Orlando sells difference, both it’s own and of course the many artificial environments housed there in the various theme parks. New experiences, luxury, culture and authenticity are trends that will shape the future of world tourism. As a society, our leisure time and disposable wealth are increasing and are the primary catalysts within a growing tourism industry.

The more cities look and feel just like every other city, the less reason there is to visit. The more cities enhance their uniqueness, the more people will want to visit. Paris looks and feels different. Twenty-seven million people visit there every year; more than almost any other city on the planet.

In this world of constant change, tomorrow’s tourist destinations will have an increasing diversification of interests, tastes, and demands. Changing work practices and traditional work-leisure boundaries are blurring. The trend is toward escapism and indulgence. Holidays will offer physical and mental recharging in the short time tourists have before returning to normal life.

The growing awareness of social and environmental issues will lead to a conflict between conscience and the desire to travel. Still, if and when people chose to travel, they will visit places that are different – which brings us back to Orlando, the world’s top vacation and travel destination. Best known for having three of the largest and most popular theme parks in the world – with 50 million visitors each year and 300 days of sunshine a year – it tops Paris. That comes as no surprise, but did you know Orlando has now become a celebrated destination for golfers around the world. It is the home of world class golf courses designed by the masters themselves. The weather makes playing golf a pleasure.

If it’s true that when it comes to livability the key to finding the easiest places to live may be to follow the students, keep your eye on Detroit. Technology job postings in the Detroit area doubled last year, making it the fastest-expanding region in the country. Right now the auto industry is on a growth binge, trying to woo Silicon Valley engineers to Detroit. There are technology jobs to fill. The industry is searching for promising students at schools like Stanford University. “Go east young graduate” might be the new mantra.

If the share of high skill employment in Detroit is rising that’s a promising sign for the city. Modern economies don’t build cities around the benefits of concentrated manufacturing alone, though we expect concentrated and re-localized manufacturing to become more and more important. Even more fundamentally, cities build their future around concentrations of human capital. That is the greatest challenge for Detroit or any other city hoping to revive themselves in coming decades.

[Glen Hiemstra is the Founder of, and curator of Dennis Walsh is a sustainability futurist from Canada best known for his work as the first publisher of green@work. Contact us through]

Glen Hiemstra

About Glen Hiemstra

Glen Hiemstra is the founder of An internationally respected expert on future trends, long-range planning and creating the preferred future, Glen has advised professional, business, and governmental organizations for three decades.