Does a City Have to be diverse to be good?

Old Sep 5th, 2001, 05:29 AM
  #1  
Andy
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Does a City Have to be diverse to be good?

Does a City have to have a diverse population to be a good place to visit and live?

I am a regular traveler in my 50s from the great State of North Dakota. North Dakota is not a diverse State. According to the population census we are 98% white, mostly people from Germany and other northern European Countries back 4-5 generations. The City I live in, Bismark, is a wonderful place to live with almost no crime, limited unemployment, very few social problems, great schools and tidy neighborhoods. Nearly everyone speaks English which makes it easy on the teachers. Service is good at fast food places with college students behing the counter. Though reading this site I am lead to believe that because our City is not diverse, we are a bad place. Is this true?

I recently returned from Toronto Canada. Everyone says this is the City of the future and that is how every City should be. People of white European backgrounds are now in the minority, 100s of languages were spoken and feel of the City has changed since I last visited in the 1950s. Schools in Toronto are struggling because of all the languages spoken, the culture of the City has changed. In all my travels through the City I saw little mixing of the races. People stuck with their own race, they just shared the same space/air.

I love people of all races and consider myself an open minded person. I am asking my self, what City is better to live in Bismark, with similar people, or Toronto, dominated by minority groups. I do not have an answer, do you?
 
Old Sep 5th, 2001, 06:05 AM
  #2  
Ed
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It is very hard to question the value of diversity without looking like a racist. Congrats to Andy for coming about as close as possible, excellent post and question. Personally, I have always felt the value of diversity was subjective rather than absolute. Therefore, in answer to Andy's question, I would say that if you are the kind of person that can't feel fulfilled unless they are eating at a different ethnic restaurant and hearing spanish, chinese, and russian spoken all in the same day, obviously diverse city=good city. But there are those who value other attributes of a city (views, ease of finding employment, schools, etc) far more than the ability to find Thai food on a Tuesday night, after the samba lessons. For these people, a diverse city MAY be a good city, and it may not.
 
Old Sep 5th, 2001, 06:28 AM
  #3  
steve
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I love diversity because I'm constantly learning from people who come from different backgrounds and have different beliefs. It's secure being around people who are a reflection of myself, but I'd rather take the challenge. But Andy, you aren't wrong to prefer your city. It's just an issue of what makes you happier.
 
Old Sep 5th, 2001, 07:24 AM
  #4  
Mary
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I hate those radio commercials that say "Our strength is our diversity." Diversity is neither a strength nor a weakness.

Similarly, a city with a diverse population is stimulating but those cultures sometimes clash in unpleasant ways.

It's another case of whatever you prefer.
 
Old Sep 5th, 2001, 07:41 AM
  #5  
travelingman
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You saw Toronto through from your perspective, which is a *very* subjective view. Although you say you don't have an answer, it seems like you've already made up your mind. The best city for anyone is the one that person likes; it doesn't make it "the best city" for everyone, though. Free your mind.
 
Old Sep 5th, 2001, 07:45 AM
  #6  
Cindy
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I feel that I ought to make quick objection to an assumption I fear is developing in this thread: the idea that non-diverse (all white) = no crime/good schools/full employment, but diverse = chaos/bad schools/high crime/no jobs.

In my experience, this isn't necessarily so.

Anyway, yes, I like diversity. To test out an analogy, a non-diverse atmosphere is kind of like eating all of your meals at the same restaurant. Yes, it is secure and familiar, you know what you are doing and are never befuddled, there are no surprises, and the food might even be pretty good overall. But I would prefer to sample many things, even if some of the things might not be as good as I might get if I dined at the other restaurant.

For me, variety is the spice of life.
 
Old Sep 5th, 2001, 08:15 AM
  #7  
Liam
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To answer your question, no, a place does not have to have a diverse population to be a good place to visit and live.

I agree with the others that variety is the spice of life and could not imagine living in a place that is as homogenous as Bismark. But that is my opinion and mine is no better than yours.

There are plenty of examples of large cities (Tokyo, Rome, Dublin, Mexico City, etc) that are not nearly as diverse as their more diverse brethren (NYC, London, San Francisco, etc), but are still very interesting to visit. They may not be the best places to live, but not because of their relative lack of diversity.
 
Old Sep 5th, 2001, 08:47 AM
  #8  
wilson
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IMO:

In answer to your question; 'No' as a visitor, but 'yes' as a resident - in that the more diverse the better.

However, I suggest you ask non-majority residents of your city the same question.

Some of the most 'memorable' (by def.) conversations and learnings I've had were from people who are/were in the minority, talking about their feelings, experiences and day-to-day activities while living in the 'majority' area.

Diversity is just one component of a cities yardstick of "good" and "not good"

 
Old Sep 5th, 2001, 09:41 AM
  #9  
Daniel Williams
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I must contest your characterization of Toronto, from my impressions after 3 visits. Certainly there are neighborhoods where certain ethnic groups predominate; these are parts of town where different peoples can find sense of community in similar heritage. However, most Torontonians I've met live, work, socialize and date a very racially/other diverse group of people, with differences in backgrounds/lives a source of enrichment.

That said, do you think Bismarck would be as wonderful place to live if you were a minority (i.e., vegetarian, non-Christian, non-white, non-Straight, non-English speaking)? Let's take an example: I know I love Quebec City which is predominantly francophone Quebecois (1% English-speaking), but I am very fluent in French and familiar with Quebec culture. Even though most people I find are very welcoming there and feel enriched by other cultures, you'll see from time to time punks with F**K ENGLISH scrawled along their boots. Yet QC is constantly written up as a great place to raise a family, low crime, etc.. I've found, knowing French, the city to be a great place...would you feel as comfortable? That I don't know...I have an English-speaking friend who lives there who speaks French moderately well, who appreciates it for many reasons and enjoys Quebec culture, but who still feels like an outsider.

Let me end by saying that I think you phrased your question quite eloquently and thoughtfully. I have functioned all my life as a member of a minority group, and being a minority can be tremendously rewarding. I must admit in the end generally speaking I prefer if a place is diverse, BUT if a place is not so diverse, is the overall environment welcoming to those who differ from the homogeneity?
 
Old Sep 5th, 2001, 10:25 AM
  #10  
Mr. X
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The Toronto and the Canada of the 1950s was sold down the river by Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau. They promised more socialized medicine and better pensions and won the majority's votes. The Liberal Party's price for the socialized medicine and the pensions was the destruction of the old Canadian culture. The bulk of Canadians cared more for their personal short-term material gains than for the retention of their culture. Their grandchildren will pay the price in the future. Toronto and Vancouver are about as Canadian as Los Angeles or Miami are American.
 
Old Sep 5th, 2001, 10:56 AM
  #11  
Emmy
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Good guestion Andy.

If by diverse you mean Jerusalem or Belfast or any place that riots, then no, diversity isn't good. But I think riots are a bad way to get your point across. Hitler and others used ethnic cleansing to get rid of diversity.

I think it's a personal decision. I like having people from different backgrounds in my neighborhood. I learn about their heritage and they learn about mine. Just as long as we all remember EVERY viewpoint is valid we should be ok.
 
Old Sep 5th, 2001, 11:14 AM
  #12  
Like White Bread and Tortillas and Chapatis
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A word missing here is "taste." To my taste, cities with a lot of culture that is different from what I am used to are more enjoyable -- at least to visit. Living there may or may not be a different matter, however, depending on how people deal with difference.

Diversity with peace and harmony IS strength, because it encompasses the greatness of the possibilities of human experience and creativity. But diversity with discord is terrible, much worse than same-same, uncreative homogeneity.

The horrors people describe comes from the clash of cultures that will not tolerate difference and demand the choice between assimilation or annihilation (sp?). Difference is a reality and "ghettoizing" or confining the different to "someplace else" will no longer work. Too many people, too little resources, too little livable land.

Andy described some of the pleasantnesses of being in a city still isolated from the clashes of culture. It is indeed more peaceful at the moment. "Better?" More comfortable for Andy, maybe, and certainly more to his taste.

I raised my son in a similar environment and it drove me crazy, while everyone who grew up there thought it was heaven. Good for them. My son could hardly wait to leave and is now happy in a diverse coastal city. Good for him.
 
Old Sep 5th, 2001, 11:35 AM
  #13  
Clara
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I have to believe that a city that accepts everyone is the best city to live. I wanted to comment on the bilingual issue. I was a teacher Andy and the real problem in this country stems from government support. The teachers you spoke of have a hard time because they are over crowded and do not get a real commitment in dollars from the U.S. I had a class where 15 of the 21 kids were bilingual. I had 1 child in the group that did not speak any english at all. My biggest problem is that I did not get text books to teach reading. I had to spend $500-$1000 (low for most teacher'S)for homework handouts and supplies I was expected to provide for my class. This on a salary of 25,000. Oh and I was additionally required to loan the board of education $500 so that teacher cuts would not occur.

That aside, it does look like this post was made to state your own point. Well done but I think there are tons of kids in North Dakota eeeking to get out. I know I grew up in a town like that. It can be very oppressive if you have adventure on your mind or just find yourself different. Not just about eating Thai on Tuesday night it is about knowing the world.
 
Old Sep 5th, 2001, 11:47 AM
  #14  
Andy
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Thanks for your responses so far. I tend to think that the people who write on this message board are a bit more open to diversity because of their interest in travel. I like people of all races and try to mix with them when I travel and see the value of ethic diversity in a City in theory but maybe diversity in a City is not such a great idea because of human nature.

I know from experience that much of the trouble with diversity is the people (the majority of people I suspect) that want people around them to be very much like them. (If you tell me you want to live in a diverse neighborhood, you are different!) It is popular now days to talk about the glories of diversity but what people talk about in abtract and what they really think and feel comfortable with deep down is very different.

In your travels go to the local shopping center. IN MOST CASES people that are the same spend time together. Notice the guys and girls with the same haircut and style of clothes hanging together. Remember the groups at school- the nerds, smokers, jocks, brains, etc. They all hung out together. Notice at the mall in a diverse City how FEW people of different races are together. I use to live in a diverse City and worked at a hotel and saw 100s of wedding receptions. When blacks got married rarely was a white or Asian at the event, etc, etc. There were very few blacks or Asians at White people's receptions.

Look at neighborhoods, if people love diversity so much why are kids bused to school 15 miles from home to mix the races.

Maybe that is why the places with the white dominated Cities always come out higher in quality of life studies. Not because of the whites are better, but because there is less of a culture clash and the people who really do not value diversity all get along a bit better.
 
Old Sep 5th, 2001, 12:31 PM
  #15  
steve
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Andy, do you really think Bismark has a higher quality of life than say San Francisco? So much for your theory that "white" dominated cities have a better quality of life.

I live in New York City and run a real estate business. I own residential buildings. In the old days owners used to believe that you shouldn't rent to blacks, jews, catholics, etc., for the reasons you mention, that people want to live with their own kind. Thankfully, over the years there has been a little enlightenment among many people. I enjoy renting my apartments to as diverse a group of people as New York City represents. I love living in a building with black, white, gay, straight, jewish, protestant, hindu, buddhist, etc. neighbors. It's hopefully the wave of the future. It may seem foreign to you, but it's home to me.
 
Old Sep 5th, 2001, 12:39 PM
  #16  
Harris
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Andy I know people who through work are living in the Midwest and feel very stuck. I encourage them to seek out the specialness of where they are but the lack of diversity is the number one complaint I hear. They think Chicago is boring and too white/European but the best the area has to offer. This from people of European ancestry. Your right our travels and knowledge of the world pushes us towards this need for diversity. But travel and education really are more prevalent now than in the past. This make me think it is the wave of the future. As for the people you spoke of who only visit the mall. Yikes,I largely suspect they are the Post-ww2 factory workers that so fill the midwest. Don't you think this community is being forced to leave the area?
 
Old Sep 5th, 2001, 12:45 PM
  #17  
Jonny
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Quality of life between San Francisco and Bismark. SF has plenty of crime; Bismark has almost none. Lock your doors in SF; don't have to in Bismark. Crowded in SF; Bismark has wide open spaces. Many in SF die agonizing, lonely deaths at a relatively early age; few in Bismark do. The state of the family in SF is in a state of decay; the state of the family in Bismark is strong. Churchgoing is weak in SF; it is still pretty strong in SF. Social dysfunction is strong in SF; it is far less profound in Bismark. Access to outdoor sports is mediocre in SF; it is very strong in Bismark. Housing prices are astronomical in SF and out-of-range for middle classers; housing is cheap in Bismark and a middle classer can get a good house for a fair price. On the positive side for San Fran, it is more vibrant and the restaurants are much better. People would have to choose for themselves. I'd rather raise a family in Bismark. I'd rather my son resemble North Dakota's favorite son Roger Maris than I would favorite sons of San Francisco like OJ Simpson or Harvey Milk. I'd rather my daughter grow up more like North Dakota's Peggy Lee than San Francisco's Dianne Feinstein or Barbara Boxer.
 
Old Sep 5th, 2001, 12:50 PM
  #18  
Anony
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Steve - in some respects I would say Bismark has a better quality of living than San Francisco. I don't live in either but I know for a fact that you can get a lot bigger house with a nice yard for kids to play in for same amount of money than in SF where real estate is outrageous and you practically have to be a millionaire to have a 2 story 4 bedroom 3 bath house on a 1 acre lot in an area where it is safe for hildren to ride up and down the sidewalks on their bikes. To me, this is part of a better quality of living. IMHO, I would never live in a city period but enjoy being within a 3 hour drive of all the advantages of the ity and the diversity the comes with it!
 
Old Sep 5th, 2001, 01:07 PM
  #19  
Joan
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Johnny, ok so stay in Bismarck where the women are happy with nowhere to run if they want to leave a marriage. Stay in Bismarck if you are God fearing folk wanting to convert or lecture people with real values. Stay in Bismarck if you want to keep your very narrow perspective. But don't stay there too long a little thing called education is sweeping the western world. Sooner or later people in Bismarck are bound to pick up a book too.
 
Old Sep 5th, 2001, 01:11 PM
  #20  
L
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May I offer additional congrats to Andy for creating ... lets see ... hmmmm ... how can I characterize what I'm reading here without consigning this entire misguided heap of trash to the "R" bin. It reeks of racism! Andy's original post gives us the choice ... similarity or minority. He says he doesn't have the answer. Oh surely, Andy, you're much too modest. I think you're "answer" comes through loud and clear. Your message has been received. I am on the floor, but not this time from laughing. Ciao, Leone
 

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