Talkin’ ’bout my generation

More and more urban policy research is looking at the critical role today’s 20- and 30-somethings (sometimes called Generation Y or Millennials) play in our cities. Just today, Brookings reported on migration trends of the 25-34 set–we’re apparently leaving young adult bastions like New York and LA for “cool” places like Portland, Austin, and DC.

New Orleans is another non-traditional destination growing in popularity, according to this Next American City article. Indeed, I can count at least a handful of friends who have recently relocated to the Big Easy to teach, attend grad school, run nonprofits, and deal with the aftermath of the oil spill. This is hardly a valid or generalizable sample, but I doubt any of this crowd imagined themselves living in Louisiana upon graduating from college.

If there’s a land of opportunity for my cohort, a glut of sources suggest it’s Detroit. (I’d argue that it should also include Gateway Cities like New Bedford and Fall River, but that’s for another day.) A recent editorial in the Detroit News argues that “Millenials will save Detroit.” And they have plenty of opportunities to do so, from social networking sites like “I am young Detroit” to the Detroit Revitalization Fellows Program, which nurtures a new generation of city leaders. At least from an outsider’s perspective, Detroit seems to offer young people a blank canvas with which to try new ideas, get their hands dirty, and have their voices recognized in the policy process.


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