When you’re creative and energetic location doesn’t matter. Freedom matters. Diversity matters. Energy matters.
So you go where the action is, and you make the action better. When a place gets boring or some place else gets alluring, it’s time to move on. Tumbleweed to the new action and make that new action better. This is beautiful freedom. It almost never lasts. No life is vigorous forever.
When you’re older and less energetic, creativity comes in snatches. Natural, worked out, drug induced, whichever. Eventually most lose interest in an itinerant life, the energy of the action gets too young – and over familiar. At that point it’s time to make a base. Let the action come to you, if you want any action. Maybe you’ve picked up a family to nest with. This attracts you to a nest community – suburbia or a small town or safe city neighborhood.
Most nest communities are bourgeois, conventional. At best, they’re pleasantly boring. At worst, they’re gated conservatism, offensive. Both are freedom compromised.
The end of freedom is an end to creativity. When creativity becomes spasmodic, it needs to be nurtured by good company (or chaos, challenging diversity, which gets increasingly tiring). Nest communities are about safe orthodoxy, not unpredictable creative freedom. If you eschew the bourgeois nest community in favour of the creative nest community, it limits your choices. Mostly centered on established, professional alumni: parts of NYC, London, Los Angeles, Paris, Berlin, scattered neighborhoods in certain cities. This choice extends creativity, though it’s a corporate context, and it won’t last indefinitely. It’s freedom euthanized.
Examples: West Hollywood California, Chelsea London, Montmartre Paris, Greenwich Village New York, Prenzlauer-Berg Berlin.
So what else? Good company could be assembled on your own terms, if you create the nest community or live outside nest communities altogether. Creating the nest community means it’s made in your image, usually making you its first monarch. This can work, if your reach is wide or your wealth extensive. It can attract the good company needed to nurture creativity, but it devolves to a small ingroup gene-pool, a closed enclave. This becomes freedom domesticated.
Living outside of any communities – on a rural spread, for instance – fast runs out of steam. It becomes an indulgence, a retirement, eschewing the flow of creative capital (both in and out) in favour of comfortable introspection. This is freedom parochialized.
Example: Avalon CA, Cornwall CT, Bisbee AZ, Madrid NM, Montsalvat Australia, most artist colonies.
Many individuals (or distinct groups of good company) can separately choose an existing nest community, to enter, occupy and redefine, or ring-fence a new location, creating a decentralized nest community. This is a tricky proposition and needs enough inbound creative individuals to fight parochialism. This is freedom organised.
Examples: Yaddo NY, Rovinj Croatia, St Ives England, Worpswede Germany, Christiana Denmark, Peterborough NH, Wassaic NY and other less influential enclaves (https://artistcommunities.org/about)
Mostly ‘gentrification’ gets left to the zeitgeist. It’s easier to join organic migrations into existing nests than struggling to create a new nest via a consensus of independent talents.
Occupying an existing nest community can be a battle against local orthodoxy, especially if you’re following an organic migration of sympathetic strangers instead of gathering together with simpatico friends. Convergence on an existing nest community has the advantage of extant services, infrastructure, degrees of diversity, close contact with unpredictable creativity catalysts (ideally) and the hope is it’ll make for a quality gene flow in and out. Organised migration, when it’s done well, becomes an example of freedom revitalized. Whether its vitality lasts isn’t in your control.
Examples: Williamsburg, Shoreditch, Silverlake, Buttes-Chaumont, Kreuzberg, Maldonado Uruguay, La Boca, Akihabara.
Creating a new decentralized nest community involving many independent creative energies is a high stakes project. It’s seldom attempted. The project can become over-precious. It risks politics, bureaucracy, isolation from extant services. If it works, it may become the full trinity: freedom organised, freedom revitalized, freedom immortalized.
In the past this paradigm has been driven by religious dogma rather than ideals of creative (or intellectual) freedom, but the method is similar and there’s no reason Mormonism (i.e. religion) and not Modernism (i.e. weary cynics) should be the basis of a new vibrant, autonomous, diversely creative, non-bourgeois nest community. Let’s call this long-shot freedom immortalized.
Examples from the past: Santa Fe NM, Salt Lake City UT (!), Bradenton FL Maybe.