Tuesday, November 9, 2010

How ya' gonna keep 'em in Sarasota?

Here along the North Trail we have somewhere around five educational institutions and attract smart and creative students from around the state and country. Most leave when they graduate and that's to be expected, but those that stay or return contribute immeasurably to Sarasota's economic, social, and artistic vitality. Sarasota's reputation as an elderly community probably reads as a minus to many young professionals, but our climate, beaches (and inertia) conspire to keep recent graduates here. But we need to ask: what more could we be doing to attract or retain these creative, entrepreneurial types?

My informal polling suggests a more vibrant (later) downtown music/social scene, community gardens, and (drumroll) chickens. I don't know about other institutions, but New College students not going to graduate school head out to places like Portland, Asheville, Austin, New York, Boulder, and Seattle and, surprise, all these places allow backyard urban chickens. The terms and conditions vary from 3 to 9 hens, but they all allow hens.

Of course, should they migrate to Chicago, Madison, Atlanta, St. Louis, Baltimore, Ann Arbor, Los Angeles, Denver, Miami, Des Moines, Boise, or Louisville they could also have a few hens there.

The City of Sarasota, usually a leader, needs to catch up with the rest of the country if we are to remain competitive in attracting and keeping the young and the skilled.

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