I had the opportunity to observe and participate a little bit in a process at a Palo Alto think tank.
There was an offhand comment that was made by someone, that sparked this post. He pointed out that his non-Californian friends had commented that only "you people in Northern California" care about these kinds of issues. (Think tank-y ones.)
So, I thought, woo-hoo: my time in Minnesota has some potential market value! And here are my bloggish thoughts.
As opposed to actual research, this is constructed out of my anecdotal observations. I'm not unbiased: I vastly prefer the social norms in the Bay Area to those I encountered in Minnesota. However, in 15 years of living there, I did have to be fairly clinical about the differences in order to be able to navigate.
So, I'm going to assert that the Bay Area selects for people, worldwide, who like change. The recent gold rush sort of obscures that, because what that did was attract people who could tolerate change so long as it made them wealthy. But before the gold rush, California's reputation during the 50's through the 80's -- and possibly before: is there an historian here? -- was "far out." It was new; it was young; it was a place to try different things. In a country where people fled in order to escape oppression, California was the place that people in the U.S. came to in order to push to the edge.
The rest of the world, to greater or lesser extent, isn't like that.
In order to help my fellow natives think about the different belief systems, here's a table: