The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release

Release: April 24, 2003

UI Students Participate In National Creativity Effort

Representatives from the University of Iowa student organization The James Gang will travel to Memphis, Tenn., May 1-2 to help write the Memphis Manifesto. The manifesto, which will be sent out to cities across the nation, will be a declaration of steps that need to be taken to build communities for members of the "creative class."

Seven members of the UI's James Gang will be part of the "Creative 100" selected by the Richard Florida Creativity Group to participate in creating the manifesto. The James Gang is a volunteer organization fostering interdisciplinary community development as well as innovation in the sciences, humanities, business and the local arts. According to its Web site, the group is committed to artistic, scientific, political, journalistic, social, entrepreneurial, and philosophical creation.

Florida is the author of "The Creative Class: And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life," in which he shows how the most profound changes in our culture, work and everyday lives stem from the rise of creativity as an economic force in the evolving economy.

Florida, a public policy and economic development professor and director of the Software Center at Carnegie Mellon University, believes that a city's success depends largely on whether it can attract the creative class by cultivating the arts, music, nightlife, and historic districts.

"U.S. cities must invest in places that are fun and interesting," said Florida. "Generic, mall-like settings will not foster the growth of cities in this nation because they do not attract the creative class."

Florida's research has shown that whether a city can attract and retain the creative class will determine its success in the knowledge economy.

Florida will be joined by nationally known "thinking partners" who will engage and stimulate the Creative 100, including the members from the UI's James Gang, with their innovative insights into cities of the future.

Following the Memphis Summit, the manifesto will be posted on numerous websites and will be distributed to mayors, congressional leaders, senators, business leaders and key influencers.

More information is online at or

The seven James Gang members attending the Summit are:


AMES: Jacek Pruski, a junior environmental economics and policy major and a graduate of Ames High School.

MOUNT PLEASANT: Amanda Styron, a junior economics major and a graduate of Mt. Pleasant Community High School.

WEST DES MOINES: Mike Brooks, a senior literature, science, and the arts major and a graduate of Valley High School.

WEST DES MOINES: Spencer Griffin, a junior theatre arts and entrepreneurship double major and a graduate of Valley High School.


ELGIN: Jesse Elliott, senior political science and literature, science, and the arts double major and a graduate of Elgin High School.


KNOXVILLE: Alex Johnson, senior psychology, philosophy, and journalism triple major and a graduate of Webb School of Knoxville.


SAUKVILLE: Ellie Azoff, sophomore English and international studies double major and a graduate of Port Washington High School.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACT(S): Media: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011, Program: Jesse Elliott, Writer: Josh Rosenthal