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I'm not even sure what Midwestern culture is. And in any event, when I think of the Midwest, I tend to think Missouri and Iowa. Ohio is perhaps the "industrial midwest" or, better, "Great Lakes region" which emphasizes natural resources over relative geography--as opposed to the "rural midwest" of our westerly brethren? And at any rate, when I think of Youngstown culture, I think of a blending of imported immigrant culture and imported Northeast mores.
I would argue that Youngstown, and the Mahoning Valley in general, is very different culturally than most Midwestern cities, such as Omaha or St. Louis (granted those cities are larger than Youngstown). Even Columbus, Toledo, Dayton, etc. are more Midwestern in their approach to things than Youngstown. I think Youngstown is more like Pittsburgh and some of the cities in the East, though I would not say that Youngstown is East Coast.For years I have said that there must be something between East Coast and Midwest.
I never thought I was "midwestern," until I moved to Montana. There, people kept telling me I was "very midwestern" and kept asking to me "slow down."Among the positive traits of being from this area I list a hard work ethic, an ability to fit an unusual number of words into 30 second and overall restlessness.The negative qualities I think are cultural includes being too busy to care (i.e., saying things in passing instead of stopping to talk) and being generally uninterested in other people's stories.I feel like in other places, there's a forum that's natural to share and talk about where you came from, what you do, why you do it, why you live there, what you want... that I wish we had more of here.
From my various travels and having spent years living both east and west of the Mahoning Valley: People who live east of Youngstown (i.e., NY, MA, etc.) consider our region to be very Midwestern; people who live west of Youngstown (i.e., IA, MO, etc.) do not consider our region to be Midwestern at all. Interestingly, like most things "Youngstown" - we don't seem to fit into any niche at all, and in fact would do better to just create our own. We are unique... that's for sure. :)
This post made me smile. When I moved to Iowa last year for the Obama campaign, I told them I was from Youngstown, OH - their response: "Oh, you're from the Midwest too!" This summer I'm living in NY and everyone very much thinks of our area as Midwest. Personally, I've never thought of our area as Midwestern.
Do we live in the midwest? Perhaps. I feel we have our own niche or evolving niche from a history of industrial/post-industrial developmental periods. We are growing from our working class roots into a new more informed/educated area. I see the YO. becoming a place of doers not watchers. For too long many sat and watched and waited for something to happen here, something good/positive. Well I think many know that it takes action to create change,selfless action at times,for the greater good as its been said. If you talk with some who have moved away you get a sense through them of what they miss most. That sense of home, of caring about each other. Katie, you hit the nail on the head with you thoughts on the neg. qualities. I have lived east of the YO. and witnessed people so driven by their own agenda that there is little true engagement with their neighbors/friends. It becomes merely a surface thing ( hi babe, luv ya, call me sometime) I have seen such qualities here to and it is not a thing to be proud of or take lightly. We have all had someone close to us die or suffer poor health, if you could ask them whats important in life what would they tell you? All we really have is the time and people we share our lives with, embrace it, embrace our sameness as well as our differences we are all from right here. Label it how you see fit, call it your home and make it the best you can. We are in it together no matter what. It thrills me to see all that is going on in the YO.now, so many diverse projects and people making things happen. If it doesnt get you excited to join in then you better wake up and move out of the way.
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