Friday, February 29, 2008

a take on the med mart from the czar

The Tech Czar (how does one get such a cool name?) provides a fascinating glimpse of an insider's view of an economic development deal in Cleveland.

What can be learned as Youngstown moves forward? The czar ends with:
"Maybe we should build the Medical Mart in Youngstown seeing how the key piece to Mayor Jackson’s economic development plan is a non-binding agreement with a city 75 miles to our south. How exactly are these two struggling cities supposed to do a development deal?

And here is my problem with how our current leadership represents and implements economic development. As far as they are concerned building a large public works project (always under the pretense of a private – public partnership) is economic development. And this, of course, is faulty logic. Economic development is getting the 35-year male from Hough a job. It is helping a 24-year old single mother secure a career. No one though wants to do the dirty work. Instead, we build big white elephants and call it progress."
more here.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

new stories, new responses, new blogs

Elections bring the national media to Youngstown

Local blogs react

New local blogs to notice

from DY:
"While it's nice to receive the attention Youngstown has received from both Democratic candidates here in Youngstown, we must not lose sight of the fact that this is an opportunity to make our case as to the real needs of this community, both presently and in regards to future investments. In an area so economically desperate as Youngstown, it is easy to get swept up in dialogue that appeals to our emotions and speaks to our pain. Peppered with a few items that seem like there is an understanding of how to fix our situation, this appeal can easily and often divert attention from the task at hand which is to addresses true necessities that will help us sustain ourselves at present and begin to diversely invest in our future (more on this in a moment).

In a few short days, the election will be had, the candidates will be gone and the media will move on to the next Youngstown in a state far, far away. The party will be over but Youngstown, OH will still be here. It's time to wipe the stardust from our eyes and place personal or special interests aside. We must begin to start asking some tough, detailed questions that speak to the common social and economic issues that face this Valley as whole before these candidates are on their way."
more on this topic here.

note: this post is cross-posted at In The Yo

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

nire aitaren etxea

Nire aitaren etxea
defendituko dut.
Otsoen kontra,
sikatearen kontra,
lukurreriaren kontra,
justiziaren kontra,
eginen dut
nire aitaren etxea.
Galduko ditut
galduko ditut
baina nire aitaren etxea defendituko dut.
Harmak kenduko dizkidate,
eta eskuarekin defendituko dut
nire aitaren etxea;
eskuak ebakiko dizkidate,
eta besoarekin defendituko dut
nire aitaren etxea;
besorik gabe,
sorbaldik gabe,
bularrik gabe
utziko naute,
eta arimarekin defendituko dut
nire aitaren etxea.
Ni hilen naiz,
nire arima galduko da,
nire askazia galduko da,
baina nire aitaren etxeak
iraunen du

Nire aitaren etxea
Gabriel Aresti (1963)

translation here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

the fab feb stage

Next edition of The Stage is this week (thursday):

5 bucks. tons of cool stuff.

tell em' Janko sent ya.

Monday, February 25, 2008

2 supurb opinion pieces in the vindy

Two pieces in the Vindicator have really caught my eye this week, and I wanted to share them with you. Even if you don't agree with all of their points, they are extremely well written.

Youngstown still sees its shadow by Eric Planey
"However, instead of a Groundhog, Youngstown gets Democratic presidential candidates, who tell us that the shadows that the smokestacks used to cast will be replaced with four years of long-awaited sunshine. After the last ballot is cast in the general election, they disappear into their nocturnal Washington slumber.

This past Presidents Day weekend there was so much coverage of Youngstown nationally that I felt that I was at my childhood home in Lansingville instead of Brooklyn. My favorite coverage was of Kelly Pavlik continuing the Youngstown tradition of winning titles while shouldering the pride of a hardened yet spirited Mahoning Valley. But it seemed that there were more punches being thrown over the weekend between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton."

"But I also recall a commitment [from Bill Clinton] to land a Defense Department payroll center that the elder Bush administration short-listed Youngstown for and Clinton committed to keep. When Clinton’s defense secretary abolished the bidding process because he didn’t like competition among cities, people were left with a sour taste in their mouths. But I always wondered how different Youngstown would have been if we landed that defense center and the several thousand white-collar jobs around it. Would the Valley still be as hopeful to the promise for a better tomorrow, or would Youngstown be further down that road already?"

"But if these candidates want Youngstown to favor them, they must understand that there is a cost. And that cost is straight talk with the Valley that occurs more than once every four years. If such a pledge is lost in translation for them, then Youngstown has the right and the obligation to itself to look outside the Democratic party for such candor in November."
Of course, these are just snippets from the editorial. Read more here.

No one likes to pay taxes, but WRTA provides a public service worth supporting by Timothy Wagner
"No one likes to pay taxes. And I will admit that I have voted against a few ballot levies over the years. But there comes a time when we need to examine the cost benefit of what we are asked to fund. WRTA, our community-wide bus service, is one such entity. A writer on Feb. 4 very lucidly explained the nature of the ridership and the value WRTA has to these individuals. And it would be easy for me to blow it off, because I do not ride the buses. In fact, I don’t recall ever being on a WRTA vehicle. I am fortunate enough to have my own transportation and the Youngstown area is generally easy enough to navigate and parking adequately available that travel in a personal vehicle is not a problem."

"Each rider on WRTA is most likely someone who would like to be able to provide their own transportation. It is not fun standing in the cold or heat, in rain or snow, and in the dark and the wind waiting for your ride to come. The next time you walk to your car, think about carrying your packages without the cart and standing next to your vehicle for ten or fifteen minutes before you get in. Make it at night when it’s cold and rainy. You will understand what the sight of a bus means to someone without their own auto. Consider taking the bus on your next work day or for your next shopping trip. You will understand the value of the WRTA to our community."

"Stop for just a moment and think about where you would be and how you would maintain your day-to-day life if you were unable to go in your own transportation whenever you wanted. And please, vote “Yes” on the WRTA levy. It is the least we can do for our neighbors."
more on that here.

This is also cross-posted at In The Yo.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

GLUEspace recap from buffalo

Stuck in the freeze-frame from this uploaded video with a shot of Youngstown's representatives, here are some highlights from the inaugural gathering of the Great Lakes Urban Initiative (GLUE) in Buffalo:

Friday, February 22, 2008

we've got to get these numbers up

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics collects information across America on the number of employees for over 800 occupations. These values can be sorted by metropolitan area, allowing regions to be compared to each other.

It's possible to group all of the scientists and engineers in a metro region together, and compute how much of an area's employees they represent. Here are some examples from May 2006, the most recent data available:

5.2 percent - Dayton, OH
4.6 percent - Columbus, OH
4.2 percent - Pittsburgh, PA
4.1 percent - U.S. total
4.0 percent - Akron, OH
4.0 percent - Cincinnati, OH
3.6 percent - Cleveland, OH
2.5 percent - Toledo, OH
2.9 percent - Johnstown, PA
2.9 percent - Buffalo, NY
2.8 percent - Erie, PA
2.5 percent - Flint, MI
2.2 percent - Canton, OH
1.6 percent - Lima, OH
1.6 percent - Mansfield, OH
1.4 percent - Youngstown/Warren

In this case, the Youngstown/Warren region is Mahoning and Trumbull counties in Ohio and Mercer county in Pennsylvania.

Comparatively, this region's percentage of the workforce that are scientists and engineers are abysmal as compared to others. In fact, out of the 100 largest metros in the U.S. (Youngstown/Warren is still in this grouping), our region has the lowest percentage when compared to all others.

I think some people tend to think with all the manufacturing around here, there are many engineers as well. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

So while it should be said that the mere existence of scientists and engineers do not translate into economic success, many of the country's top performing regions have much higher percentages of S&E workers.

As a region, we've got to get these numbers up.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

another day, another democrat

The students at Youngstown Chaney High were shoveling snow at sunrise in preparation for Hillary Clinton:

It was her second appearance in the Mahoning Valley in less than a week. Barack Obama and his staff came to Youngstown as well, filling the basketball arena at the university downtown:

And suddenly, in the eyes of the candidates and other politicians, Youngstown has become relevant again.

Reporters from the New York Times, npr, the Wall Street Journal, and other national media outlets have come to town to write their stories. Matt Lauer's interview with Senator Obama on Tuesday's Today Show prominently featured Youngstown and YSU to a national audience. Bits and pieces of Youngstown have appeared through the hundreds of other articles and blogs in print and on the internet.

The media's archetype of Youngstown is bubbling to the national surface again, with our "shot and a beer" mentalities and "hard scrabble" unionized temperaments.

Sometimes it's fun to join in on this working class aura, other times the realities show us there is much work to do.

Youngstown is what it is.

Like many communities, it's a combination of people with different opinions and different backgrounds, different sensibiliites.

It is what it is.

- - -

What's interesting to me are the similarities between presidential campaigns and cities.

In both cases, they are complex systems with many people and many different components with their opinions.

Some good, some bad . . . well here's mine:

When you choose a candidate, you are not just choosing one person. You are choosing their advisors, their political appointees, their cabinet, and the thousands and thousands of other people the President gets to install as head of the Executive Branch.

Maybe that's why the years of the Bush Presidency have been such a struggle: not only do we get George W. and his personal opinions, but we also have inherited the actions of his entire cadre of followers and policy makers.

Painting with a broad brush, the team now in power has drifted far away from the responsibilities of sound fiscal management as well as the protection of personal liberties.

So Youngstown, so Ohio, when you are making your choices in the upcoming elections, don't think of the candidates as individuals.

Do you want McCain and all the people he is affiliated with?
Do you want Clinton and all of her followers?
Do you want Obama and the staff he brings together?

Just like these campaigns, cities are more than just one person and their opinions.

Remember this, as you read all these media reports and go to the polls this year.

good luck.

Friday, February 15, 2008

1st look inside the new technology center

valued readers:

had the opportunity to make it inside the new Youngstown Technology Center this week. When construction is completed, the structure will connect to the Youngstown Business Incubator, and will be home for maturing companies that graduate from the YBI.

with both experienced and growing technology companies moving into downtown youngstown, this "managed cluster" of firms is growing into an even larger nexus for software development companies and their innovative partners, including the university just a few blocks up the hill.

let's peer inside . . .

shown above is the facade of the structure, as interior doors connect the Incubator to the Technology Center.

shown below is the view heading down federal street, as the Technology Center sits next to the Semple Building, also undergoing renovation currently for MORE tech companies. Then adjacent to the Semple is the landmark Home Savings and Loan.

Peering behind the blue tarp, we have the entrance to the building leading us to the inside.

Skylights running through the middle of the building will bring natural light to the lower floors.

And of course, miles and miles of cable will be spread throughout the building.

Here's a photo from the second floor with its yellow walls:

Each floor of the structure will have a kitchenette right in the middle for all of the floor's employees.

Here's a view from the back windows, looking out onto art deco home of the Youngstown Vindicator.

And finally, a view from the front windows looking out onto the multi-recital hall complex which houses the Youngstown Symphony, among other cultural organizations.

looks to be progressing nicely!

as the Tech Center finishes up in the next few weeks, more construction will shift to the Semple Building, to be followed by work on the beautiful Wells Building - the 4th structure of this cluster.

Youngstown is accelerating at a rapid pace - - jump on as we are moving forward.

blogging roundtable on louie

On Monday, the authors behind Meditations in an Emergency, The Stage at the Oakland, Defend Youngstown and I Will Shout Youngstown appeared for two hours on the Louie Free Radio Show - brainfood from the heartland.

You can listen to the show here, and the bloggers join in 1/3 of the way into the mp3 file.

Subjects discussed included:
- a girl without toes
- race and public transportation routes in Atlanta
- the moment you fail when creating community
- a region of storytellers
- promoting blogging in nursing homes
- 1st announced meeting for Wick Park revitalization
- the libertarian art movement in youngstown
- biking to get unpasteurized milk
- supporting the upcoming wrta bus levy
- in the yo
- prank calling the park burlesque and harry houdini

Thursday, February 14, 2008

cincy 360 to ytown 2020

What can we learn from our neighbors to the south as we begin the Youngstown 2020 planning process?

Saturday, February 09, 2008

a new form of government transparency

this is a new way of doing things.

Fellow blogger and recently-hired Director of Downtown Events and Special Projects has put up a unique web site - an experiment in transparency and connectedness.

The site, 44503 Live, chronicles the meetings that take everyday regarding Downtown Youngstown development, and the projects that are moving forward -

- projects that will benefit the public and provide opportunities for the people of this community to join together.

Here's an example from yesterday, the 7th of February 2008:
  • Began work on formal bullet point presentation for Steelhounds GM Joe Gregory and WRTA’s Jim Ferraro regarding description of St. Pat’s event.

  • Wrote and submitted summary piece on operational plans for downtown (per request) for new magazine “Youngstown Connector”.

  • Met with represenatives from Youngstown Metro Church regarding design of the new downtown website.

  • Contacted the Mayor of Braddock, PA to set up meeting/deploy unit from Youngstown to examine their marketing strategy.

  • Created and launched 44503Live Blog journaling the work being done in the position of Director of Downtown Events and Special Projects.

  • Continued to upload event calendar.

  • Attended/participated in steering committee meeting for Youngstown "Grey to Green" event to take place this May (coordinator: Deb Weaver, Treez Please)

Is this a model for open government of the 21st century others can espouse?

Friday, February 08, 2008

inside a downtown artist's studio

From a recent video put on YouTube, here is a view inside Jim Pernotto's downtown studio.

Located at the intersection of Federal Street and Phelps, the space works great for this Youngstown artist's larger pieces. Jim has moved back to Youngstown after spending a large part of his career in NYC.

check out

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

this should be a good one

UPDATE: you can listen to the interview here

It a nutshell, the discussion details plans to improve the neighborhoods and engage the people in Youngstown and Warren which exist in a rapidly changing economy and environment.
- - -


Lincoln Avenue is back for another season, since it kicked ass during sweeps.

For the upcoming show Wednesday at 7:30pm streaming at
"This week on Lincoln Avenue, I’m talking with the Wean Foundation’s still-fairly-new President, Joel Ratner, about the Foundation’s new directions, including a series of programs aimed at helping area non-profits work better and work together.

Starting with a community summit last fall and continuing with a very well-attended set of workshops on strategic planning in January, Wean is providing training, opportunities for networking, and grants to support capacity building, all aimed at helping organizations serve the local community better.

The other half of Wean’s new strategy is a focus on neighborhoods through small grants of $500 to $5000 to small local groups, especially neighborhood organizations that want to pursue concrete projects to improve their community. This project is still getting organized; the Foundation is establishing two community review boards, one for Youngstown and one for Warren, who will evaluate applications for these small grants.

This approach goes hand-in-hand with the neighborhood focus of Youngstown 2010, putting resources in the hands of ordinary people. It also works as another form of capacity building, helping people develop the skills and experience to become community leaders."
read more on how YOU can get YOUR IDEAS funded here.

(note: this post is cross-posted at In The Yo)

Monday, February 04, 2008

the "grow youngstown" movement

UPDATE:local paper reports on this story filling in a few more bits of info.

a new webpage is up for Grow Youngstown, a non-profit dedicated to community supported agriculture for city residents:

Besides working with local farmers, Grow Youngstown is advancing its City Gardens Program. City Gardens is a community membership gardening program. Grow Youngstown secures land and provides initial financial support for any preparation the land may need. The garden members may organize themselves to grow collectively or have individual plots depending on what works best for their community.

Grow Youngstown puts farmers and members together and with administrative tools, such as bookkeeping, contracts, newsletters and organizational strategies.

The advantages of this type of cooperation are many:
  • Greater nutritional value: Food traveling shorter distances, reaches customers with higher nutritional content.

  • Supports the local economy: Money transferred stays within the local economy (doesn't go to Chicago (IGA) or Pittsburgh (Giant Eagle) creating direct and interdependent bonds between producers and consumers.)

  • Good price: Customers pay less than they would pay at the supermarket for the same organic produce and farmers get more than they would get at auction or through a distributor.

  • Variety: Customers get a variety of vegetables not always available at the local supermarket.

  • Sustainable: The food is grown sustainably, adhering to PASA or OEFFA guidelines, though not necessarily certified organic.

another great benefit to living in the city . . .

join the community of interconnected neighbors in Youngstown. feel the vibe.

Go to their website to become more involved, or to learn how to receive fresh produce.