Thursday, September 27, 2007

the STAGE is one

This Saturday September 29th a new "the Stage" will be held at the O. So if you are looking for somthing to do before Kelly Pavlik beats the spleen out of that other chump, stop on over from 8pm tp 11pm.

$5 gets you in the door. At 7pm a social hour commences with free eats. Arts stuff will be all over the gallery's walls.

7:30pm will be auditioning for the experimental band "before the undead". And then, starting at 8pm will be the official program with...

-- The Zou, with new bassist Murad making his local debut with the band PLUS rocky horror
-- Dr. Ray's Sideshow with NEW assistant, Megan
-- Joe Carrabia's comedy styling
-- Harold Davis' unique blend of blues/comedy
-- Angelo LaMarca's song stylings
-- Chaos of Wisdom, a new-ish band (first time at the Oakland!)
-- Chris Barzak's wonderful words (he'll be rushing in from Clv)
-- Brandon Smith (comdey) vs. Brandon Martin (tap dancing)
-- other stuff still being arranged (will update)

This will be the one year anniversary of the Stage. Congrats to all who made it possible over the past 12 months.

The Oakland is located at
220 W. Boardman Street
Downtown Yo. O.

lots of free parking around.
and again, 5 bucks.
and plenty of Bettys.

Contact Brooke with questions and request to be in the show. Anyone can be on the Stage.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

idora cleanup - southside's finest

Looking for something to do this weekend?

There are two events taking place on Saturday that go hand and hand with the South Side of Youngstown.

First, there will be a neighborhood cleanup from 9am to 11am for the Idora neighborhood.

The neighborhood gets its name from Idora Park, an amusement park that was situated in the center of the city. Similar to Conneaut Lake and Geauga Lake, Youngstown's "million-dollar playground" is now closed. You can visit a good Idora Park site here.

All participants should meet on Parkview Avenue in front of the former Idora Park site. Trash bags and equipment will be provided. Here is a map with the meeting site on it:

The Idora Park neighborhood and its residents are beginning the process of neighborhood revitalization, and everyone in the Mahoning Valley is invited to participate in the cleaning and greening of this historic south side area. It's always amazing to me to see all the mansions in this neighborhood, especially the enormous houses that are on Volney Road, adjacent to Mill Creek Park.

One interesting side story in the saga of the Idora Neighborhood has been the land of which the park now sits, owned by a local church. Despite decades of promises for rehabilitation, it remains probably the largest abandoned parking lot in the city.

From the wikipedia entry for Mill Creek Park:
In 1985, Mt. Calvary Pentecostal Church in Youngstown bought the Idora property and announced plans for a religious complex, to be named the "City of God". The Ballroom remained open for various events until Memorial Day 1986. The church lost the property in 1989 after accumulating more than $500,000 in debt on the land. A group of preservationists got Idora Park on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993. This group put together a bid that year to buy the property and restore it, but at the eleventh hour, the church got the property back for a reported $300,000 mortgage.

For the next fifteen years, the church failed to build their religious complex, the property decayed, and it was not secured from outsiders. All remaining structures were not given proper historical preservation and each would eventually be vandalized, destroyed by natural elements, or succumb to arson.

On March 5, 2001 the final chapter to Idora Park's history was written when the historic Idora Ballroom burned down. The fire reportedly started in the basement and was suspicious in nature. The Jack Rabbit and other remaining wooden structures were not destroyed by this fire. On July 26, 2001 the Wild Cat, Jack Rabbit, and all other decaying structures were demolished by bulldozers to prevent any future fires. The property owner (Mount Calvary Pentecostal Church) ordered the demolition without notice in response to safety concerns. Both the Jack Rabbit and Wild Cat roller coasters were listed on the American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) preservation list.

Inaction by the park property owners to preserve the remaining (non-auctioned) Idora Park historic structures—such as the Ballroom, Wild Cat, Jack Rabbit—ultimately led to their destruction.

from this provided history, a question to be answered:

What should now become of the land, and what are the responsibilites of the land owners?

Then later on in the evening, on HBO, the Ghost of Youngstown will be competing for the middleweight boxing championship.

Kelly Pavlik lives and trains on the South Side.

Plenty of well-deserved hype has gone into the fight, including specials on HBO and SportsTime Ohio. You can watch the 30 minute HBO special on YouTube in three parts: part 1, part 2, and part 3.

From today's paper, "Boxer Gets Hometown Sendoff""
YOUNGSTOWN — If boxer Kelly Pavlik could harness the outpouring of love, support and cheers he received from hundreds of his friends, neighbors and fans during his hometown send-off Tuesday night in front of his house on Cornell Street on the South Side, he would pack dynamite in his punches when he challenges Jermain Taylor for the WBC middleweight championship Saturday night. . . .

"I think he will win because he is a very good boy, good with me, polite with people. He never was a bad kid. When he was a boy and came over my house, his favorite food was pizza, and we all would spread out a blanket and have a picnic on the living room floor," recalled Stella.

Neighbor Dove Ross agreed with Stella. "He is wonderful. He is very good to everyone. It is a very close-knit neighborhood. His personality is wonderful. He has a lot of respect for you and is a gentleman. He is a good model for young kids to look up to," she said. . . .

"Kelly goes to our church. That's why we are celebrating today. He is a good Slovak boy and he has a great father and mother. I pick him to win in the 10th round," he [Smercansky] said.

well, to sum it all up, a wise quote from a wise man:


Monday, September 24, 2007

a smarter youngstown, plus propre, plus petit, plus vert

Similar to recent stories from Germany and the Netherlands about life in Youngstown and the 2010 plan, France has now jumped into the mix with an article in Challenges, France's largest business magazine.

You can read the article (in french though) here.

The article reviews Youngstown's history as the once 57th largest city in the country, the steel crisis, and its new approaches to city planning that have garnered international press.

Penned by Philippe Boulet-Gercourt, the article quotes Hunter Morrison, le directeur du Centre d'études urbaines de l'université: "Nous sommes au coeur d'une mégalopole de 7 millions d'habitants. Mais nous ne pouvons pas rester les bras croisés à attendre que d'autres viennent nous sauver. Dès qu'un quartier a accepté le fait qu'il ne redeviendrait pas le quartier ouvrier qu'il était, on peut faire beaucoup de choses en termes de qualité de la vie ou d'accès aux infrastructures."


You can hear a new interview with le directeur wednesday night at 7:30pm on WYSU through Sherry Linkon's radio show. Hopefully he'll be speaking English this time.

You can access Dr. Linkon's blog here and wysu here.

UPDATE" the interview is up, and can be accessed here.

Friday, September 21, 2007

a thirty-year katrina, but this storm is passing

Youngstown, it's not your fault.

It sounds like a line from a twelve-step rehab program, but it was a lesson I picked up from all the Black Monday segments spread throughout the local media this week.

Youngstown, it's not your fault.

Many newpapers all over the country ran a piece by Marilyn Geewax, native daughter of the Mahoning Valley and Economy and Technology Reporter for the Washington Bureau of Cox Newspapers. There was a part of her audio report which referenced the similarities between Hurricane Katrina and the Steel Collapse that began in Youngstown 30 years ago. According to her story, in both cases, these places were "abandoned by the institutions that could have helped" but instead endured.

And that's why the Youngstown story is just so damn interesting. It's a story of struggle and survival. It's a story of missteps and promises. It's a story of remembering the past and living for the future.

Youngstown, it's not your fault.

So now is the time to think about how we are still all in this together.

To realize we are a place and a people with no limits.

no limits.

no excuses, no saviors, no regret.

we are the people we've been waiting for.

In coordination with the editor of the Vindicator, a few local bloggers provided some pieces for reflection. These seven blogs are a sliver of the people that represent Team Youngstown.

Our continuing push is not limited to one generation, and is extended to the many many individuals who are a part of this community. Individuals who represent different groups, of older and younger generations.

This is all our fight.

Keep thinking. Keep doing. Keep getting connected.

Mahoning Valley View
Reinvent the Wheel, or Encourage More Efficient Rotation?

Youngstown Pride
New Leaders, New Business, and a New Way of Getting Things Done

Youngstown Renaissance
Some Environmental Impacts of Black Monday

Defend Youngstown
Post-Steel Generation Fights for Change

Stark Raving Youngstown
From Black Monday to Bright Future

The Stage @ The Oakland
From Rust to Stardust

I Will Shout Youngstown
Youngstown’s Opportunity to Become a More Interconnected Community

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

youngstown’s opportunity to become a more interconnected community

Over the weekend I drove to Chicago to see some good friends. En route, I intentionally passed through some neighborhoods in Gary and East Chicago (Indiana) for the first time.

Gary is similar to Youngstown, in that steel was the king of the local economy. Gary’s downtown and city streets are much more downtrodden than Youngstown in my opinion, but as the case in many cities, they both have their good spots and their spots in need of investment.

But the Gary of today still has miles and miles of operating steel mills and heavy industry, unlike today’s Mahoning Valley. As I made my way along the shore, I thought: is this what Youngstown could look like at the present if there never was a Black Monday?

Saturday night, I ate dinner with a girl from Gary. Over some Moroccan food, she told me how every time she visits her family there, she gets a headache from the pollution. Even though the steel mills remain, 33 percent of Gary residents live below the poverty line, compared to Youngstown’s 30 percent. One might expect that fear, racism, crime, and disinvestment has severely impacted the status of the city, in addition to the pollution.

Let’s imagine that the steel mills were still functioning in Youngstown. Like the remaining factories in Gary, and most other industries across the nation, technology and productivity has reduced the number of workers needed to manufacture the same amount of a given product. Sure, other factors like international competition and corporate decision-making also make a difference, but waves of technological advancement drastically impact the number of workers needed in a plant. Look at Delphi, look at GM Lordstown, look at WCI Steel.

And these gains in productivity ripple out across the workforce. Suppliers need fewer workers, distributors need fewer workers, and producers need fewer workers. My main point is this: even if the steel industry were still around, from a combination of factors, it would look dramatically different.

The key reason why the Mahoning Valley has not recovered from its economic malaise is the fact it has struggled to re-orient its economy towards the emerging information-based economy. Plants have unfortunately been closing in other parts on the country as well: in suburban Atlanta, in urban New Mexico, and in rural North Carolina. But the difference is that many of these same economies that experience this loss are also diverse enough in other industries to move forward with more ease. With so many of our eggs in the manufacturing basket in our past and present history, when manufacturing gets hit, we feel the pain a lot more than other communities.

But why hasn’t the Mahoning Valley been able to make that transition? Why is it that this region is so dramatically lagging the state and the nation in terms of its educational attainment and other economic indicators? Why is it that other steel producing regions have rebounded better than we have?

Some interesting recent research in the field of social network theory has considered these questions, and if you believe the premise of the research, then its application may have a lasting impact on the possible future path of the Mahoning Valley.

Over a year and a half ago, this blog covered the PhD thesis of MIT student Sean Safford. Based on his work, Dr. Safford, now a member of the faculty of The University of Chicago, will soon be publishing a book titled: Why The Garden Club Couldn’t Save Youngstown. His thesis has the same name, as well as this blog’s three-part review of his work that you can access here, here, and here.

Safford’s research looks at the social structure of communities, and evaluates their interconnectedness. In his thesis, he did this by looking at corporate and community boards of directors from around the region, and numerically evaluated the diversity and strength of these social networks. Looking at the social arrangement from different times in Youngstown’s history, Safford concluded Youngstown’s social structure was less diverse and confined to distinct social circles.

Here are two images provided by the Institute of Open Economic Networks (at the Indiana Leadership Forums) that may illustrate these differences. The first shows a community separated in distinct groups, with a few connections here and there. The second illustrates a different community, with more social connections all over the place.

Safford wonders if this distinct social structure of the Mahoning Valley possibly led to the failure for the community to work together during times of crises - across socioeconomic lines. So while 30 years ago, Youngstown’s strategy was to build canals to Lake Erie, other steel communities like Allentown, Pennsylvania invested in human capital and research parks. The communities that made these investments 30 years ago are more economically robust today. And these types of investments take time, decades even.

- - -

So here is a question for all the readers: If Dr. Safford analyzed the community and corporate boards of 2007 (instead of 1950 and 1975 like in his thesis), would this area’s social network maps look any different? Are we still a divided community, or a community that is interconnected, making decisions based upon the diverse opinions that exist throughout it?

Every person reading this blog should do the following:

Think of all the boards you know of, or are a part of. Are they filled with a dynamic set of knowledgeable people representing different age and income levels, or are they filled with people that contribute very little except for their presence? Are there a few individuals or a single person who act as dead wood - adding little value to your organization except they are building their own resume?

Maybe now is the time for us to clear our brush of its dead branches, and graft new life to its base.

The demographics of the region are changing. The Mahoning Valley, when compared to other regions of the country, is still a pretty big place. Looking at 2005 census information, Mahoning, Trumbull, and Columbiana counties have together 563,000 residents. Add Mercer County in Pennsylvania and that number jumps to 676,000. Add one more county, Lawrence, and the entire 5 county region is 765,885 people.

That’s about the size of a small state, or a European country.

Across this five county region, 240,000 of them are under the age of 25, which is 31.4% of the population.

Furthermore, 326,000 are less than 35 years of age, which is 42.5% of the population.

Thirty years ago, on the original Black Monday, the oldest of these people were 5 years old. Effectively then, one can argue that 42.5% of the region’s population don’t really remember the date from 1977 that it etched in so many minds. So etched, that the memory of that date is still somewhat significant to the people of my generation. A generation with their own eyes have never seen a Youngstown with miles of steel mills.

What if Safford were to perform this exercise in 2015? Would our boards and social networks still look the same, or would we look (and behave) different? How do we come more interconnected?

A new generation is out there friends, and engaging them in the proper way may be the opportunity of a lifetime.

Monday, September 17, 2007

young in youngstown

A new television show will be launching this week titled "Young in Youngstown" by the local NBC affiliate.

Produced and hosted by Mollie McGovern, current President of the MVP 20/30 Club, the show will highlight topics of interest to young professionals and young people in the Youngstown region.

The first show will air early this week, focusing on jobs - how to find them, how to get them, and will also feature last month's Northeast Ohio networking event held at the DeYor Performing Arts Center.

The show airs:
Tuesday, September 18th, 7:30pm on WFMJ - channel 21
Wednesday, September 19th, 7pm on WBCB - channel 20

Speaking of the Networking in the Middle event, hundreds of young professionals from across the region gathered in Youngstown for some food, drink, networking, etc. Sponsored locally by the MVP 20/30 Club and by the Cleveland Plus Marketing Alliance, the event sought to connect young professionals from different backgrounds, cities, and professions.

Also, the recipients of the 2007 "Mahoning Valley 40 under 40" were announced, and the list includes some bloggers. You can see the entire list from the Business-Journal story (need subscription) here.

Congrats to all the winners. Even the non-bloggers.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

introducing: treez please

Yesterday morning, a new organization named "Treez Please" planted a red oak (Quercus rubra for you Linnean types) in Wick Park on Youngstown's historic North Side.

Local citizens heard from Arborist David Sturtz about the proper techniques of tree selection and planting. And in this effort, a truly grassroots organization took their first step forward in their quest to beautify the Mahoning Valley.

Their next project will be the creation of "pocket parks" in local neighborhoods that combine landscaped greenspace and eco-friendly sod furniture. They have aquired a few pieces of property on the North Side, and are beginning work on a parcel on Broadway between Elm Street and Wick Avenue. Check out this photo for an example:

Treez Please will have their next meeting [which open to the public, please attend] this Thursday, September 20th at 5:30pm at the First Unitarian Universalist Church on Elm Street. (go to their webpage if you need directions - it's on the east side of Wick Park).

All donations to Treez Please are tax-deductible.

Besides monetary donations, they are in need of topsoil and dirt to provide fertile ground for the greenspace to develop, as some of their sites have the remains of houses that have been demolished on them. They also could use your ideas, your energy, and your time as they progress with their vision.

For more information contact Debra Weaver at 330.744.1748 or
debraweaver2000 (at) hotmail (dot) com

Treez Please
P.O. Box 2292
Youngstown, Ohio 44504

Saturday, September 15, 2007

need a lift?

Two events are taking place in our area next week which may be of interest to local entrepreneurs, business-folk, and generally, anyone in the public who a passing interest in technology.

The more people we get there from the Valley, perhaps the better chance we will have of getting necessary funds to advance our tech-based economy.

The first event is TechLift: Youngstown
To be held Thursday, September 20th
drinks and networking: 5pm
program begins: 5:30pm

from the JumpStart website: (also for registration)

Join Northeast Ohio's entrepreneurial community and celebrate the launch of TechLift, a NorTech initiative of the Third Frontier Project Entrepreneurial Signature Program. TechLift is dedicated to enhancing Northeast Ohio's technology entrepreneurial companies by providing unique services, entrepreneurial mentorship and access to resources. If you are a technology entrepreneur in Northeast Ohio, you can benefit from TechLift at no cost to you. Meet the TechLift Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, learn about the programs being offered, and network with local business leaders and other like-minded entrepreneurs at this exciting rollout event.

In addition to learning about what the regional partners are doing to embrace this initiative, you'll hear about IdeaCrossing – a free online community supporting entrepreneurship by connecting entrepreneurs with the investment capital, business assistance, and resources they need to build their business.

5:00 - 5:30pm Registration, Networking, Complimentary Appetizers, & Cash Bar
5:30 - 5:55pm Welcome, Julie Michael Smith, Youngstown Business Incubator
TechLift Introduction, Chris Mather, TechLift
Kent Kristensen - Electronics
Donna Richardson - BioSciences
Ron Zieske - Advanced Materials
Darrin Redus, JumpStart
Youngstown Business Incubator, Julie Michael Smith
5:55 - 6:05pm IdeaCrossing, Tiffan Clark, JumpStart Inc
6:05 - 6:15pm Regional Partners
6:15 - 7:30pm Networking

The Avalon Inn Resort & Conference Center
9519 East Market Street
Warren, Ohio 44484

The second event is 3rd Frontier - funding opportunities information session
To be held Friday, September 21th
program begins: 9am

Norm Chagnon, Executive Director of the Third Frontier Commission and John Griffin, Director of the Technology Division with the Ohio Department of Development will travel to Northeast Ohio to announce and discuss ALL of the Third Frontier Programs that will issue requests for proposals over the next 12 months.

Some of the programs to be announced include the Biomedical and Engineering & Physical Science Research and Commercialization Program, Third Frontier Fuel Cell Program, and new offerings including the Ohio Research Scholars and Advanced Energy Program.

This information session is free and open to the public. Anyone interested in learning more about Third Frontier funding opportunities available for 2008 is welcome to attend.

Time: 9:00-11:00 a.m.

Location: Hilton Akron/Fairlawn Hotel, 3180 West Market Street, Akron 44333

RSVP with Kelly Coolbaugh South at 216-241-8458 or by September 17th.