by Janna Marlies Maron on February 18, 2011

Editor’s note: this is a guest post by ThinkHouse member Ryan Walton.

A few years ago it was Austin. Before that it was Portland. Now it’s Brooklyn. Who knows, by the time you read this it is probably somewhere else.

It seems like every two years a new city emerges as “the place to be” for the young and trendy, which makes sense to a certain degree. There is something magnetic about places that seem to foster creative energy. It tugs at our inner desire to be part of something significant. We look at moments in history like Greenwich Village in the ’60s and want our own slice of the historical pie.

Here is where the difficulty lies for me: “Cool” is fleeting. Trends change as often as status updates, and they are incredibly difficult to keep up with. If I upgraded my technology with every new release, I would not only go broke, but also I would end up unsatisfied with everything I owned. The minute I sit down to understand what I do have, it is on to the next thing. In this case, I would even go as far as saying that there is a generation guilty of creative over-consumption. We often exploit pockets of creative energy until they are used up (or over popular) and then move on to the next, and then the next, and the next.

In a highly informed and mobile culture, it is easy to be lured into going to the action instead of instigating culture ourselves. Cities like Austin and Portland did not become centers of creativity because a bunch of 20-somethings moved into the neighborhoods all of a sudden. They became what they are because local connectivity and collaboration emerged. It took years of people choosing to not be satisfied with importing music, but instead, cultivating the growth of what was already around them.

I’m often tempted to move away from Sacramento. (There are a few more romantic places in the world where someone in his 20s or 30s could live and enjoy.) But perhaps what Sacramento, and other cities like it, offers is the opportunity to create something truly original. Its canvas is blank (or at least there is much more room to paint). The question that stands before us is whether or not we will choose the more difficult road of rooting ourselves and cultivating something beautiful. That is not to say that there is never a good reason for a change of scenery, but I would caution the young creatives of the world: take a deep breath and a good look at what is already at your doorstep. You might find the ingredients for a local renaissance.

So may you have eyes to see the beauty that is around you. She is your wife. They are your next door neighbors. It is that little restaurant down the street that has been there for years. He is that guy who has been bugging you for years to collaborate on a project. They are your kids. The point is, the grass is always greener on the other side for people who don’t water their own.

Let’s turn on the hoses.

Ryan Walton is a member of ThinkHouse Collective who has chosen to stay in Sacramento. He blogs at

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Tara February 21, 2011 at 3:40 pm

“Cities like Austin and Portland … became what they are because local connectivity and collaboration emerged.”

So true. It is as if the connectivity and collaboration create an energy that then draws others. But the deepest satisfaction (and I think what we long for most) is in being a part of creating it in the first place.

Great post!

Mazzarello Media and Arts February 21, 2011 at 10:05 pm

This is awesome! Thank you.

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