Tuesday, January 25, 2011

CLUCK NEWS: Chickens May Affect Where Young People Choose to Live!

One of our local chicken critics posted a entry that contained the following: "Chickens will not bring "young people" to Sarasota. Well-paying jobs will. This is a ludicrous argument and a sad day for this city." And a Janauary 19th letter to the editor in the Sarasota Hearld-Tribune attempted to make the same point: arguing (ironically, it turns out) that we should stop discussing chickens and find a way to get younger workers here. CLUCK begs to differ and has in previous blog entries such as: Can Backyard Hens Make Sarasota Hip?, and How ya gonna keep 'em in Sarasota? And now CLUCK is getting some reinforcement for the notion that chickens might actually help us retain or attract young competent people.
The dismissive critics might benefit from reading Rebecca Ryan's Live First, Work Second, which explores the proposition that young competent people are less likely than previous generations to pick a career and live wherever that takes them, than to decide where they want to live and then find work that suits them.
According to research done by the author:

Three out of four Americans under the age of 28 said a cool city is more important than a good job.

Older people can scoff, be dismissive and act incredulous, but this actually seems to have some validity. Consider these excerpts from young professionals who left Sarasota, but who took time to write about the chicken ordinance:

I believe that these kinds of creative, progressive measures would make young people in my demographic see Sarasota differently, and perhaps open minds to the possibilities the city has to offer if we stay and work hard to help it grow. This is such an important issue for young people, and I hope you will consider that as you make your decision.
I left Sarasota to live in other places which I considered to exhibit progressive environments. Having access to backyard chickens and community gardens would have made remaining in Sarasota a much more attractive option for me, as I believe it would be for the many young people who move to or visit Sarasota each year.
I was a student at New College and a resident of Sarasota for four years. Part of the reason I left Sarasota is that I didn't that feel it was progressive enough for a young person like myself, so I headed to Asheville, NC. The ordinance to allow 4 - 6 backyard hens (no roosters), is a perfect example of the kid of forward-thinking, progressive policy that brings throngs of young, intelligent people to Asheville. As a former resident of Sarasota and someone who still cares deeply about the city, I urge you to pass this ordinance.
Policies such as these attract the young, vibrant, creative and sustainably-minded young people who are all too quickly leaving Sarasota to find communities that better support their ideals. I spent four years in Sarasota trying to make a life that was in line with my ideals, but found it difficult, with public gardens and greenspace being diminished, unlawful ordinances being drafted against live-aboard sailors, and chickens being outlawed. Allowing for backyard chickens within city limits is a step in the right direction. It would allow young folks like me the flexibility needed to dig long-term, sustainable roots in the Sarasota sand.

As a recent New College graduate, I cannot name four classmates who remained in Sarasota after graduation. This is a vital, talented and concerned population that we are losing as they move away to explore urban sustainability in cities that support it. My husband and I left Sarasota after years of struggling to make it home. Please pass this ordinance and signal to young people that both they and their ideals are wanted here in Sarasota.

and this from someone living here:

I hope Richard Clapp, Suzanne Atwell and Kelly Kirschner, Sarasota City Commission take the route of accepting urban farming as a progressive approach to attracting a creative class to Sarasota. If NYC and LA can do it I'm sure we can figure it it out too. Just ask Richard Florida.

Yes, these are just opinions, but I would hope they count more than ascerbic, slashing comments from individuals who can't seem to accept that having chickens might make a difference in someone's quality of life or make our city more attractive to young professionals.

1 comment:

Mary Bernsen said...

My husband and I are a young couple (mid-twenties) with two small children, ages 4 and 1. With all of the recalls and news stories about contaminated food making it's way to our dinner tables, we are very concerned. Ideally, we would like to become self-sufficient and not have to worry about the questionable options at the grocery store (finances and economical stability also play into this desire). One of the ways we would like to do it is through raising chickens, but city laws make that an impossible option. Honestly, I feel that the old way was the better way, "hip" or not. We are in full support of your efforts!