Sunday, March 30, 2008

things to do in youngstown

Looking at Shout Youngstown's site analytics, one of the main searches drawing people to the blog is the Google search:
"things to do in youngstown".

Our staff has compiled a preliminary list of about 60 places in Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley that are essential and vintage Ytown - the true unique gems of this community.

So we are unveiling "The Map"
"The Gems of Youngstown"

click here to see it.

The Map is intended for:
- those who seek the unique things in life
- those looking for the quintessential youngstown
- students in ytown for college
- out-of-town visitors exploring local flavor

The Map is kinda organized by color:
- red for food places (sometimes serving drinks)
- purple for drink places (sometimes serving food)
- yellow for neat cultural/entertainment options
- green for outdoors/nature stuff
- white for historical
- tan for interesting shops

The Map is not intended to be an exhaustive list of every place in the region.

It is a work in progress.

If you don't agree with the contents of The Map, go ahead and make your own.

But by all means, we will listen to your suggestions for future additions.

Make sure your suggestion is a good one though, as character and good food is what drives many of these places to the top of our rankings.

For example, Bw3's in Boardman near the s.p. mall will not make our staff's list because it (a) is not unique, (b) has expensive beer, (c) lacks local flavor.

We realize The Map is created though the lens which represents our tastes. While our tastes are not necessarily superior to anyone else's - they are inherently wonderful.

and with great humility, we give you . .

The Map

Friday, March 28, 2008

the davis senza construction barricade

well, the wooden barricade has been removed from the Davis Building.

to review, here was the structure last fall:

and here is the front today:

with a display for The Full Monty, an upcoming show at the Oakland:

and some interior shots . . .

. . . of the architects' offices on the 2nd floor.

. . . of the private residence on the 3rd floor.

drywall is going up, applicances are being installed, painting to begin.

and in three weeks, move-in time.

more pictures to follow. stay tuned.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

the search for cupcakes

70 flavors of cupcakes.

I left home in the morning to find the place I heard makes 70 varieties of cupcakes, in addition to other pastries and french breads.

here is what I found:

Clarencedale Cake is actually housed in a small house. It's open for walk-in business from 9am to 5pm on Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Their website (with tons of picts) is here. Their blog (!!!) of cakes they made can be found here.

Walking closer to the door . . .

Here is an example of a cake one finds inside. The details are just unbelievable. Seriously, download this photo and check out the face of the little raccoon and the wrinkles in the tree stump.

those Charm City punks/hipsters better watch out.

Getting closer to the display case, one can see all the goods ready for consumption.

And here are the dozen cupcakes I purchased, all prepared to be delivered on the streets of Youngstown:

Here's another example of a cake, this one with floral accents.

and another one for St. Patrick's day.

And here is the cake consulting room for weddings and such.

All the Easter bread is lined up against the back wall, and I will for sure visit Clarencedale Cakes again soon.

I was also really impressed with the look and the feel of the house's interior. The pink walls everywhere with the old-school wooden door frames provided a festive, yet traditional vibe throughout.

Needless to say, I don't have many pictures of the actual cupcakes as they were decimated by my friends and family. I met some good Slovaks in that house that excel at speaking French and baking . . . a killer combination.

For all you people in Youngstown and Cleveland, Akron, Pittsburgh and beyond, this place is worth the trip.

- - -

This visit has inspired me to create a new site/map:

presenting "the gems of youngstown"

click here to see more details on this ongoing project

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

building a courthouse-only structure on the Master's block is not a good idea

The latest arguement du-jour making its way into the local media is if the city will build a new courthouse to house its municipal judges.

While you can read more details of the back-and-forth here, there is a component within the story which caught our attention:
"In a May 2002 resolution, city council “expresses its intent to allocate future city capital improvement funds to support the construction and amortization of debt to fund a city justice center.” A lack of money has stalled the project since then.

The courthouse would be a 35,000 square-foot facility on two levels with a 20,000 square-foot basement and 50 surface parking spaces. The site picked is a lot at the southwest corner of West Federal Street at Vindicator Square, once the location of Master’s Tuxedo."
Whether it's wanted or not, here's our 2 cents worth:

Without a doubt, other alternatives to constructing a courthouse-only structure on Federal Street should be sought.

The downtown of Youngstown in 2008 is a much different place than the downtown of 2002.

Federal Street is looking much better, and the need for more and more government-only structures on our main street is not needed at this time.

We are witnessing right now a split of usage along West Federal Street. Restaurants and ground floor business are clustering around the Wick to Hazel Street area. Entertainment options such as the symphony are clustering on the other end. And a gulf of government-only structures is set to dominate the space between these two destinations.

While the expansion of the YBI is a welcome circumstance, its buildings and the county's government buildings on the site of the former massive McKelvey's store are creating a pedestrian's no-man land, with no street level commerce and activity as people shift between the culutral institutions and entertainment options.

Using the Master's Tuxedo space for the same purpose for government buildings is a step in the wrong direction.

- - -

Some thoughts/questions:

If anything goes up on that space, why can't it be a mixed use structure, with commerce on the ground floor and "judgement" on the upper floors?

Why can't the now-empty judges' chambers within the City Hall Annex be used for the municipal courts?

Does it make more sense to build the courts closer to the jail or other county justice-related buildings?

What efficiencies are gained by promoting proximity and lessening the cost of prisioner movement?

Why does the main drag of the city need to be filled with public buildings instead of private businesses?

Should the Youngstown 2020 plan contain a downtown master plan?

- - -

The downtown has come a long way in a short time and will continue to get better.

The need to destroy blighted structures such as the Paramount Theater, the Kress Building, and the facade of the State Theater should not be placed before the need to retain the things that make our downtown unique.

The same concept of good planning should extend to what buildings we place on what spots thoughout the downtown.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

2nd look inside the new technology center

Well, the construction trailers have gone away and Shout Youngstown is bringing you the first pictures of inside the Technology Center, built immediately adjacent to the Youngstown Business Incubator.

Connected by interior hallways and miles and miles of cable, the emerging cluster of YBI buildings is rapidly taking shape. With renovation of the Semple Building currently underway, this three-structure complex will now assume an even larger role in the evolving economy of Youngstown and the redevelopment of our historic downtown.

Peering down the street, the facade of the new building is a departure from many of the brick and terra cotta buildings that line Federal Street.

Here is the main entrance of the building, which is a bit recessed from the natural plane of the sidewalk.

The structure is one of the most heavily-wired buildings in Ohio's Western Reserve, maybe the most wired building in the Mahoning Valley. Here is the nerve center of the building.

I'd put my server there.

Electric and data connections are abundantly visible throughout the structure.

This series of four tubes now run throughout the entire YBI complex, from the Reichart building through the Technology Center, and over to the Semple Building. It was be considered the "spine" of the complex, running data, voice, electrical and video stream throughout.

Initially much of the space will be the new home of Turning Technologies, as that company graduates from the incubation stage of the YBI. The managed cluster will be not only an adjacency of buildings, but an adjacency of technology companies learning from each other to become more competitive in the global economy.

The yellow on the walls is indicative of Turning's colors. The skylight to the left is bringing natural light down from the roof through the 3rd floor to the 2nd floor.

Peering up into the skylight . . .

and over to the glass-enclosured conference room.

The internal staircase is surrounded by glass, providing a glimpse of the kinetic activity within the building to the street level.

And looking out from the ground floor, to the home of the Youngstown Symphony, among other art organizations downtown in the DeYor Center.

Most people don't know this, but underneath the building is a parking structure.

The materials of the two buildings blend the new and the old, as this is the interface between the original structure and the new addition . . .

. . . which on the other side of the structure connects to the Semple Building.

And at night, the building displays its interior to the world.

Time to get the furniture in there, then all the people!

The new building is set to be immediatley filled - most of the space is now allocated.

With the departure of some of the "graduating" companies from the original "incubating" building, this frees up more space for new companies to enter the mix in the downtown.

    - Affordable office space rates
    - Two blocks away from a university of 13,000+ students and their research faculty
    - A cultural hotspot in the Great Lakes region
    - Historical and affordable housing in walking/biking distance

the pieces, one by one, are coming together.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Thursday, March 20, 2008

this is the new standard

Saturday morning, about 75 or so people arrived at Park Vista to discuss the future of Wick Park.

While other news stories and blogs have provided a recount of the day's events (see further below), this meeting was the beginning of a multistep process - a process to engage the public, united with other stakeholder organizations and the city of Youngstown, to make one pocket of the city a much better place.

The evolution of the project, to be chronicled on the website (purchased over the weekend, with content to come) will use information technology to further engage the public.

The Wick Park Revitalization Project is becoming another component in Youngstown's ongoing efforts with "open source community development".

Simply put, this is the new standard

No more evading the public for planning public spaces.
No more inept leaders of wayward departments.
No more closed door meetings.

This is the new standard of how future projects should progress.

By incorporating aspects of the polder model, Youngstown's methods of open source community development aim to bring more and more people into the discussion of what the civic space will become.

pictured above are the breakout sessions where individuals described what components they would like to see in the park in the future.

And looking around the room...

What will the final project look like?

Get involved, add your opinions to the mix, and find out.

Second public meeting to be announced in the weeks to come...

Defend Youngstown: 1st Meeting Complete Reinventing Wick Park

Vindicator: Wick Park workshop draws 80 participants

Tribune Chronicle: Wick Park Effort Begins

Friday, March 14, 2008

tonight's event is free, no euros needed

First off, Art Youngstown is having a community-wide gallery showing tonight, March 14th from 7pm to 10:30pm in the Ohio One Building downtown.

This event is free and open to the public.

If it's similar to the last gallery event on Federal Street, there will be plenty of people, art covering every corner of the space, food, drink, and excitement.

Everyone in Ohio and Pennsylvania is welcome to attend.

The Youngstown Artblog has been really cranking out posts recently. First, here is a post about the space for the reception this evening:
"Art Youngstown is having what promises to be a great show. How could it be otherwise in a venue known as The Great Room?

This fantastic space is five thousand square feet , has 25 foot high ceilings and is completely decorated in heavy wood work to nearly the ceiling. There are even hand carved wood griffins above the entry. The lighting is seductive and warm and the space is an incredible place to display original art. If you have never seen the Great Room in the Ohio One building this is your chance to enjoy the splendor and grandeur of Old Youngstown."
more on the space here.

Next, he shows his love for the interesting lady known only as Rita.
"I receive so many benefits from the city that at times I am actually glad to pay. These days so many organizations get a chunk of my money, including the Church and various art and cultural organizations, that I figure I am paying my dues to be a part of a club of 85,000 members.

Consider what you are getting for your money: great location in the state, great inner city parks, a convocation center, impressive downtown events to name just a few. So take my advice: pay it, shut up and enjoy the city."
This post made me chuckle. Read more here.

And next, a very interesting post on the devaluation of the dollar, the rise of the euro, and how Youngstown artists can take advantage of this:
"The American Dollar continues to fall like so many dead leaves from Autumn trees and a cold winter wind is blowing. The Euro however is rocketing into prominence like a 4th of July firework. Many reports are coming out of Manhattan stating that Europeans are spending Euros like mad on American Art and Antiques, because of their currency's strength against the feeble Dollar. In fact signs saying "Euros Only" are appearing in gallery windows."

"To reiterate what I have been saying in this blog, we have a tremendous resource in the artists of our Valley. Many of us have been selling our work to those very collectors for years now. We can easily tap into the National and International Art Markets in a much more profound way if we can work together and get REAL support from the powers within our community.

Here is a list of things I would like to accomplish in the next 6 months: Create a stronger unity amongst Valley artists, Use this unity to promote Valley art nationally and internationally, establish strong contacts with European collectors, and establish Youngstown in the Manhattan and European mindset as a Cultural Mecca. To help assist in accomplishing these goals I would be happy to hold meetings to discuss and formulate plans.

Email me: Artbake777(at)"
more on this topic can be found here.

If you are surfing the internet instead of being downtown tonight, well, then you need to get out more. (if you are physically capable)

Yes, that means you Aunt Betty.

If I can do it, you can do it.

support the arts in downtown youngstown

Thursday, March 13, 2008

what do you want Wick Park to become?

This Saturday, March 15th at 11:00am, there will be a meeting.

It's purpose: for a community to come together and build a vision for what the Wick Park of the future will be.

(photo courtesy of the Wick Park wikipedia entry)

Founded in 1889, the Park is just north of the YSU campus, and the neighborhood surrounding it is home to many university students and faculty members.

Similar to several pockets of the northside, Wick Park now needs a little love and attention. Like anything worth keeping, a bit of planning and reinvestment now will go a long way towards sustaining a bright future.

Please join the Defend Youngstown movement and Youngstown CityScape with the professional services of The Urban Design Center of Northeast Ohio for the initial meeting for community-wide input.

The future timeline and structure of the project is archived here.

WHO: All interested individuals, businesses, institutions, neighborhood organizations, non profits
WHAT: Share sense of history of Wick Park, information about the current conditions, restrictions on its use; discuss community goals and intended outcome of the park planning process. Chance to sign up for projects in the park.
WHEN: Saturday, March 15, 2008, 11:00 am
WHERE: Park Vista (Community Room) 1216 Fifth Ave.

You can RSVP to youngstowncityscape (at) sbcglobal (dot) net or call 330-742-4040

this will be the first step in a multi-step process.

so to prepare for the meeting, I have been thinking about all the parks I have visited over my life and what made them special.

things like:

- often populated by the public during both night and day
- historic or artistic signage
- good views of surrounding architecture in neighborhood
- fenced-in dog park to let pooches run wild and meet other dog owners
- farmers' markets
- a lake with a trail around it
- pruned trees and landscaped flowerbeds
- fountains
- an outdoor stage for community events
- stone entryways

so Youngstown, what do you want Wick Park to become?

what aspects are important to you?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

good grief

look what starts this weekend:

these videos are great! way to promote . . .

March 14,15,20,21,22,28 and 29 at 8:00 PM
at the Oakland Theater in Downtown Youngstown.

Reservations can be made by calling (330)746-0404

also, next Stage: THURSDAY APRIL 17, 2008, 8-11 pm.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

accent on youngstown's cup of love

our friends at Accent Media have posted on their blog and their website this 10 minute video of their first "Accent on Youngstown" production. Check it out:

From Scott at Accent Media:
"This is a chance to use our new studio and shooting space, to meet people we really want to meet and respect and are curious about, and give a little sumthin, sumthin, back to the community who has welcomed us to Downtown Youngstown.

If you have a segment idea, or would like to be featured yourself, drop me a note at:
sfullerton (at) accentmediaonline (dot) com"
I especially like the animations in the intro and throughout, and thought the music selection was great. The guests make me excited too about the people striving to make Youngstown a better place - and we should support their efforts.

All sorts of interesting tidbits pop up in the three interviews during the broadcast, one of them being the new dining room at Charles Staples' restaurant will have a New Orleans theme and will be adding some additional southern favorites to the menu.

My tastebuds are already blown away by the "cup of love" Charlie puts in his bbq sauce.

What's gonna happen when Charlie puts some of that love into the gumbo?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

quick reactions/solutions to recent levy defeats

I went to bed at 3am Tuesday night, mildly shocked that the tally at the Mahoning County Board of Election's website showed the WRTA levy passing 51% to 49%. Additionally, the Youngstown school levy was ahead by three votes.

I love when votes come down to just a handful of people, but this was not meant to be the case.

It turned out the next day with all precincts reporting that the 0.25 percent sales tax to create a regional bus system for mahoning county failed 57% to 43%. Currently, only Youngstown city residents pay taxes for the system which extends beyond the city's limits. The Youngstown city school levy failed as well.

So some quick thoughts as I read the paper this morning:

- - - WRTA (Western Reserve Transit Authority)

According to this article, the bus service will need to reduce some routes, raise fairs, cut staff, etc. to meet their shortfall. Last year after a reduction of state and federal support along with increased fuel expenses, service was reduced by 50 percent, as all evening and weekend routes were eliminated.

The rejected plan called for a county-wide sales tax to extend the sytstem to all parts of the county, thus supporting the existing system as well. Politically, is seems like a hard sell for the rural corners of the state whose voters are not familar with the existing bus service.

So I keep thinking - is there a way to create a funding mechanism for the city and inner-ring suburbs alone, which will exclude the further out sections of the county?

Maybe a solution [I haven't thought this one all the way through - it's a morning reaction for the most part] is using the JEDD concept (Joint Economic Development District) to fund the bus system. Is it possible to utilize funds generated from water use, which come from the more dense and urbanized sections of the region, and fund urban-wide and not county-wide busing?

- - - Youngstown School Levy

Then this story discusses what to do next regarding troubles with funding the city schools.

So what's a school system to do?

Solution: Bring in Tressel

Check out this story in the Columbus Dispatch:
"Even in the off-season, Ohio State University football coach Jim Tressel scores wins.

His record is 3-0 in endorsing property-tax increases that voters subsequently OK'd for Columbus, Gahanna-Jefferson and South-Western schools.

His latest effort: Reynoldsburg schools' $56 million bond issue for new schools and building improvements.

Voters received recorded phone messages from the coach yesterday, asking them to vote for the bond issue that would pay for a new high school and elementary school and upgrades for six buildings. Voters rejected a similar request in 2006."
it this a possibility?
Gahanna-Jefferson school board member Windy McKenna said Tressel's presence was a big draw.

"I remember one lady coming in the door, and I said, 'Welcome to our campaign kickoff,' " McKenna recalled.

The woman responded, "What campaign kickoff? We're here to see coach Tressel."

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

youngstown: international leader in "open source community development"


Maybe the better term is: international leader in
"open source community and neighborhood development"

question: how does the penetration of information technologies (IT) into the existing structure of communities and neighborhoods make these networks faster and more productive?

media from all over the world have been flooding into the city of Youngstown and our bloggers have been having this discussion with them.

Just as IT created its own niche market, then spread to other economic sectors improving their performance, this technology is making its way into the community and neighborhood development sphere as well.

- - -

more details soon . . . stories developing.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

should ohio be a "right to work" state?

Much thanks to my old roomie Joe for sending me this article from today's Wall Street Journal, comparing the economies of Ohio to Texas in this time of globalization.

According to the op-ed, over the past ten years Ohio has in aggregate lost 10,400 jobs, while Texas has gained 1.62 million jobs during this same period.

Some lines from the story:
"Texas has been prospering while Ohio lags, and the reasons are instructive about what works and what doesn't in economic policy."

"Texas has gained 36,000 manufacturing jobs since 2004 [Ohio lost 200,000 manufacturing jobs since 2000] and has ranked as the nation's top exporting state for six years in a row."

"Ohio, Indiana and Michigan are losing auto jobs, but many of these "runaway plants" are not fleeing to China, Mexico or India. They've moved to more business-friendly U.S. states, including Texas."

"Ohio is a "closed shop" state, which means workers can be forced to join a union whether they wish to or not. Many companies -- especially foreign-owned -- say they will not even consider such locations for new sites. "

"Texas is a right to work state and has been adding jobs by the tens of thousands. Nearly 1,000 new plants have been built in Texas since 2005, from the likes of Microsoft, Samsung and Fujitsu. Foreign-owned companies supplied the state with 345,000 jobs."
read the whole piece here.

Simply put, what do you think about this article?

Do you believe Ohio should become a "right to work" state, and would that change improve its competitiveness?