Thursday, April 30, 2009

design your own neighborhood cleanup in youngstown on May 16th

this looks like a cool offer...

if you haven't been able to attend a neighborhood cleanup yet, the city will assist you on May 16th with the one you create.

from the Youngstown Litter Control & Recycling Office:
Youngstown Litter Control and Recycling in conjunction with the Keep America Beautiful Program is sponsoring a city-wide litter cleanup of Youngstown’s public lands, roads and neighborhoods on May 16th.

• Gather a team from your family, work place, church, social clubs, or neighbors

• Register your team using this form, or call to register at (330) 744-7526

• Choose an area to cleanup, or ask us to assign one for you.

• If you can’t cleanup on May 16, pick a date your team can work, and go to work.

• We will provide trash bags and gloves for your team.

• We will help pick up, and dispose of, or recycle the trash your team collects.

seems like a pretty good deal.

you do the labor, they provide equipment, and they collect the trash and recyclables.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

youngstown trivia - #1 installment

check out these two photos:

a - where were these photos taken?

b - what is this a picture of?

c - what year was it first installed?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

business-journal highlights recent Interstate Region Summit

good story from the b-j on Thursday's summit here.

some cut-n-paste highlights of what the 200 in attendance were a part of (read full article here):
"The initiative is intended to help Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties in Ohio and Mercer and Lawrence counties in Pennsylvania work together to compete as a region. Helping to organize the effort are Roy Vanderford of Indiana-based Thomas P. Miller and Associates, and Linda Fowler, a senior advisor with the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership. Vanderford and Fowler were keynote speakers at the summit, where they discussed the early draft of the action plan and how to put it into effect.

... said the action plan is still being molded, said it should be ready within the next three weeks.

- - -

“What we are suggesting at this point is that the building blocks are mostly in place,” Vanderford said. “What we need is the tissue that holds it together.”

That tissue starts with the Oh-Penn Competitiveness Council, which will be made up of community leaders whose responsibility it will be to set goals, measure progress and maintain accountability. Members will also be responsible for creating the region’s brand and marketing it.

“It’s not about building a new bureaucracy,” Vanderford said. “That’s the last thing we want to do.”

The region must also develop networks for its education systems, businesses and career centers to share information and strategies about how to get workers the skills they need, and how to get employers the workers they want, Vanderford said.

- - -

Govs. Ted Strickland of Ohio and Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania established the regional designation, which was awarded a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor in February 2008. The regional administrator for the department’s Employment and Training Administration in Region 2, Philadelphia, Lenita Jacobs-Simmons, commended the counties for using the money to get the project moving.

“The community engagements and vision this region has done already is more exciting than anything we’ve dealt with,” Jacobs-Simmons said. “And you did it with $250,000.”

- - -

Mahoning and Columbiana One-Stop is setting up a civic networking Web site to keep people involved in the program, said Jessica Borza, chief operating officer. Although the leadership committee is charged with keeping things going, “you don’t need to wait for us,” Borza said.

more reports on workforce here.

from a recent report:
"The Five-County area has 35 postsecondary education and training providers offering about 480 different programs: 7 public adult schools with occupational programs; 10 two-year, technical and community colleges; 7 four-year colleges and universities; 9 private business and technical schools; and 2 hospital-based programs."

Also, it's interesting to note from Mahoning County, about double the number who commute to Mercer County just on the other side of the border commute to Cuyahoga County. (appendix B)

and a much commented and thought-provoking blog on regionalism in Ohio here at The Urbanophile.

Monday, April 27, 2009

bravo, bishop

According to a recent article in the Youngstown Vindicator, Bishop George Murry of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Youngstown will soon take up residence in the city.

A few excerpts from the reporting:
He acknowledged that the large house in Liberty, situated on about 2 1/2 acres, with five bedrooms, two family rooms, large living room and dining room, is much more than he needs.

“Youngstown is the seat of the diocese. I want to be there ... and be part of the rejuvenation of Youngstown.”
Like many other individuals and families moving to the metro area, the Bishop is choosing Youngstown.

But also, the story also hints at downsizing to one's needs. And perhaps this downsizing is a trend which may lead to future housing opportunities in the market.

Once family needs change and time marches on, a multi-bedroom house may become just too much space for one or two people.

In the city of Youngstown, there are plenty of historic, architecturally beautiful, well-constructed, and affordable homes in safe neighborhoods which cannot be found in great quantity elsewhere in the region.

Every good neighbor is a one-person neighborhood stabilization plan.

Will you be the next person to choose Youngstown?

- - -

Let's hope the next YSU President, like Les Cochran in the 1990s, chooses to make the city his home.

Friday, April 24, 2009

the danger of viral marketing - cleveland style

First off, I just want to say that I love the city of Cleveland.

pierogies at the West Side Market, Herb Score, the top floors of the Federal Reserve Bank, taking the RTA to Browns games and eating at Corky and Lenny's afterwards, Herb Score, drinking beverages next to the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge and looking across the river to downtown, Cory Synder, Empress Taytu on St. Clair, the Lakewood Public Library, Seven Roses in Slavic Village, Herb Score, etc...all fantastic to cherish and behold.

I wish the city of Cleveland well and believe Youngstown can learn much from Cleveland's current efforts.

So with those caveats, two videos were placed on YouTube last week.

One has 219,686 views as of 11:59pm on thursday. The other has 5,696 views.

Guess which one is more rapidly spreading throughout the web:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

concert season 2009 kicks off saturday with sköllapalooza (and a neighborhood cleanup too)

First off, there will be a neighborhood clean-up this saturday on April 25th in the south-east side of the city, just adjacent to Struthers.

It starts at 9:30am and the meeting point will be at the intersection of Neilson Ave and Pointview in the Buckeye neighborhood.

View Larger Map

If you haven't attended a spring cleaning event yet this year, this would be a good chance to enjoy the sunshine and lend a hand.

The grassroots folks putting this together could use the help - no matter where in the Mahoning Valley you are from.

- - -

And so the 2009 season of multi-band concert events kicks off this Saturday with Sköllapalooza.

The group behind this effort really brought together a great lineup, from funk to soul to jam to balls-out powerpop - should be a fun evening to stay all night at the B&O station downtown.

bands start at 7pm and go through 1am and include favs such as:

- The Kellys (listen here)
- Winslow (listen here)
- Jahman Brahman (listen here)
- Nick Funyak and the Resonance (listen here)
- Phoenix Rising (listen here)

check out these videos for what to expect:

Tickets are $10 and can be pre-purchased for the next few days at Kilcawley Center at YSU downtown.

Also, for you thirsty ones, beverages will be provided by Superior Beverage and Rust Belt Brewery will be flowing in the B&O station.

Here are some picts from the 100 year old plus venue:

All profits, every single penny, from this year's festivities will be invested into next year's event.

So it's not just an investment for one night - it's an investment for next year as well.

Help seed the future by checking out Sköllapalooza this Saturday.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

this is crazy. 150,000 networked via facebook.

MORNING UPDATE - in a slightly unrelated context:

click here if the video does not pop up.

- - -

I logged into facebook this evening an it said:

"There are 149,586 people in the Youngstown, OH network."

This is nuts.

There are 80,000 people in the city.
There are 700,000 abouts in our OH-PA region.

However, Facebook networks already exist for Columbiana OH, East Liverpool OH, Ravenna OH, Ashtabula OH, Sharon PA, and New Castle PA. So every direction immediate to Youngstown has its own network. There is, however, no Warren OH network.

So if you then take only Mahoning and Trumbull Counties, by census data there are about 450,000 people. Chop of 20% automatically cause of people older than 65 or younger than 5 years old.

Isn't 150,000 for Youngstown just a really really high number?

interestingly, "there are 324,217 people in the Columbus OH network".

How can it be Youngstown's Network is only half that of Columbus'?

- - -

can we attribute the size of the network to the diaspora?

how large are the networks for other regions? Cleveland? Pittsburgh?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

two new economic development positions open in youngstown - nationwide searches

Two new positions have been formed in the Mahoning Valley, both Executive Director positions - each with an interesting story of how they are funded.

All interested parties from across the world are encouraged to apply.

- - -

First off, the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC), a newly-created nonprofit Community Development Corporation (CDC) for the city's neighborhoods, is seeking a CEO to manage operations and assist with the guidance of the organization.

The YNDC is receiving the bulk of its start-up operating funds from the Raymond J. Wean Foundation, with additional funds for programming coming from the City of Youngstown and other community grant opportunities.

Initial work of the YNDC will probably focus on housing rehabilitation and community greening issues, but the direction will be largely dictated by the Executive Director and the YNDC Board of Directors. From the job description (application here):
"The Executive Director is responsible for the YNDC's consistent achievement of its mission and financial objectives. The Executive Director will be a strategic thinker responsible for the day-to-day operations, regulatory compliance, liaison with governmental bodies, management of development projects, and implementation of long term plans.

The Director would also be responsible for the recruitment, employment, and release of all personnel, paid staff, contractors and volunteers. It is anticipated that a staff of 3-5 persons will be required."
- - -

Various political jurisdictions are also pitching in resources to fund the Executive Director of the Western Reserve Port Authority, who will be given the responsibility of spearheading economic development in the joint zone of Mahoning and Trumbull Counties.

Commitments have been allocated (as reported here) by:
Mahoning County - $100,000 annually
Trumbull County - $100,000
City of Youngstown - $50,000
City of Warren - $50,000
City of Niles - $50,000
Howland Township and
the Western Reserve Building Trades Council

see the story in tonight's news here.

is the ytown music scene starting to flex its muscles?

MONDAY UPDATE: two new videos up over the weekend.

GMPD's show on Friday - - -

The Zou's first music video off their latest album - - -

A series of CD releases by local bands both last weekend and the upcoming one is highlighting the diversity and reach of the youngstown music scene.

First up last friday, The Sweet Delights released their album: Sweet Science.
(myspace here for music samples)

While most of the songs have a funk and soul influence, the CD contains a remake of the classic 80s song with the Stan Boney influence - “Hang in There Youngstown.”

and it's this kind of strength
that make our people
stand together and fight
hang in there, Youngstown
you're alright...

Next up on saturday, The Realtime Digimob released their album: The Realtime Digimob vs. The Terror-bites.
(myspace here for music samples)

Held at the Royal Oaks, the electronica music surged as the show included a head shaving to raise donations for cancer research, among other performances.

The Weedhawks jumped all around town, from downtown bars to empty churches along the Ridge.
(myspace here for music samples)

Finally, this Friday downtown will feature the CD release of Dreamscape by Gil Mantera's Party Dream
(myspace here for music samples)

while this is just a sample into what's going on in the span of a week, check out the Jambrain blog for more in-depth information on the region's music. They do a great job of tracking the local music scene, and their calendar excels in covering what's going on every night as well.

Good tunes. Good efforts.

Monday, April 20, 2009

you're invited to thursday's meeting on "deconstructing" abandoned homes

Move is afoot to develop a deconstruction program in Youngstown, and this week is your opportunity to hear more about the topic.

This Thursday 7pm April 23rd at the Ohio One Building (the downtown building on Boardman Street with the incredible wooden meeting space and the words "Ohio One" lit on the top), there will be a presentation by deconstruction expert David Bennink, of Re-Use Consulting in Washington state.

so what exactly is deconstruction?

it's the systematic disassembly of a structure to maximize reuse and recycling of the building materials. The process enables the salvage and reuse of valuable commodities used in building, such as lumber, brick, metal, and asphalt shingles.

David has been working in the deconstruction industry for 16 years, and has facilitated over 450 deconstruction projects and 3,000 salvage projects throughout the United States. He's been a key player in bringing the process to many cities, which has led to the development of organizations such as Buffalo ReUse.

how does a community transform challenges into an opportunities?

by selling salvaged materials, deconstruction offers the possibility to create a self-sustaining blight removal mechanism. Deconstruction also employs people through the creation of a market, allowing materials from the community to stay within the community, i.e. less reliance on outside suppliers.

all interested people from Cleveland and Pittsburgh are encouraged to attend.

Click here for an example of a successful Youngstown deconstruction of a big-box store.

Youngstown is open and listening to creative solutions. This event is sponsored by the Community Development Agency of Youngstown city government.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

your county's down 150,000 people - now what?

Today's must-listen Sound of Ideas program on wcpn discussed the whole "consolidation vs collaboration" issue, specifically for some suburbs on the east side of cleveland.

During the interesting interview with several guests, Prof Mark Rosentraub of CSU made the statement that by the next census, Cuyahoga County's population since 2000 may drop by 150,000. That massive loss of people is the real problem here, not multiple jurisdictions, as a shrinking tax base will need to pay more per capita for the same level of services if gone unchanged.

The irony is that places in the U.S. with the largest economic growth - new york city, los angeles, chicago, the bay area - are the places with the most political jurisdictions. The growth trumps the fractionalization.

Why is the growth in those places? Well, that's where the jobs are.

How does a region develop jobs?

The people who live there prepare themselves for the next waves in the economy and grow their own opportunities.

triage situation:

so in any shrinking region, of which there are many in the Great Lakes mega-region, is putting all of your eggs in consolidation (or even cooperation) efforts the best of strategies?

perhaps if the same amount of energy and resources being put into shrinking government in the Mahoning Valley (and merging the delivery of services) is also placed in tech-based economic development and entrepreneurship, the jobs situation would improve.

complex problems need comprehensive solutions.

growing call centers, attracting existing companies, and shrinking government are not enough.

as was mentioned in the interview today,

when do you want to start the conversation?

now, or after you go down another 10 percent in population?

- - -

bonus note: local bloggers Defend Youngstown and Youngstown Renaissance were featured on Marketwatch on npr today. (picts here)

YR: "You're filled with the promise of what it could be, rather than the reality of what it is. And I think that's how many of us now are looking at Youngstown. Not as a shadow of its former self, but something with incredible potential."

DY: "That's who's being attracted to Youngstown. People who want to search for that answer, and people who want to engage in that process of figuring this out. It's like an urban laboratory of sorts."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

kielbasa, veggieburgers, and wick park neighborhood cleanup

Fresh from the announcement of the final plan for Wick Park 2.0, the group Resettle Youngstown is organizing a little cleanup for the surrounding neighborhood and needs your help.

set to begin at 10pm this Saturday April 18th, volunteers will be meeting at the Unitarian Universalist Church (the site of the summer north side farmers markets) on Elm Street on the east side of Wick Park.

then at 1pm after a few hours of taking care of the hood, there will be a potluck.

kielbasa, bratwurst, and veggieburgers will be provided.

bags & gloves donated by Youngstown Litter Control and Recycling. please bring your own rakes.

You can see some pictures of the homes Resettle Youngstown is helping to link up with some urban pioneers here.

if you are reading this and have not been involved with any springtime projects in the Mahoning Valley - this one could be a great starting point.

yes, that means you.

lent is over. no more excuses.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

vote your opinions on Wick Park proposal

the final design has been chosen!

After a year-long effort into Youngstown-style "open source community development", a crucial component of one neighborhood's revitalization is now available - for public comment on what projects to tackle first.

see a larger image here.

click here to provide opinions in the next few weeks on your favorite ideas.

see why this effort of openness and multiple iterations of fully-advertised public input should become the new standard.

kudos to the many many people and organizations involved with taking this project from a dream to a final plan.

now work shifts to implementation.

Friday, April 10, 2009

end of the tunnel is now open

The End of the Tunnel is one of those downtown places not known to most locals.

In fact, even if they have heard of the space, many could not guide you to its subterranean doors in the basement of the City Center One building.

Long known for being a hangout for the after-work crowd and a good place for a quick lunch, the former Martini's had its official grand opening last friday.

here's short video of the vibe inside:

To get to this place, you need to either take the underground tunnels from the parking structure where Cafe Cimmento is located to north of federal street, or you can enter the City Center One building and descend into the basement.

the new logo for the place is very nicely designed.

And some unique photos I've never seen before grace the hallways. Most are black and white shots with a singular color element.

The one above shows an old Schwebel's truck in front of the main train station. The one below shows the Youngstown Sanitary Milk Company.

remember, think "tunnel" and go to the end . . .

. . . and there you'll find the End of the Tunnel.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

william leonard's extraordinary gentlemen is now open.

it's exciting to see people following their dreams, especially entrepreneurial ones.

it's also exciting to witness additional investment in downtown youngstown, especially from the private sector.

a great example with a very cool name is the new place on the corner of Phelps and Federal - William Leonard's Extraordinary Gentlemen.

(check out the art deco carvings on the Peggy Ann building)

William Leonard's Extraordinary Gentlemen is an oasis of sorts - a concept catching hold in a few cities across america - as it is a premiere full-service salon and spa exclusively for men.

Proprietor Lisa Reali explained the concept while she was providing a tour of the renovated space:
- you need a haircut at a moderate price, walk right in;
- you need a massage during a stressful week, you make an appointment;
- you want to hang out and watch some sports with your buddies, game on;
- you need a manicure before that job interview, they'll help you out;
- you need some foot care away from all the ladies, this place is for you.

check out the place before the renovations:

and after:

with paintings by downtown resident James Pernotto

check out the original walls in the private pedicure room in the basement

massage table

stylists' stations

shampoo stations

and a video of the interior

lots of investment here!

looks like a place to definitely visit.

Monday thru Friday, 11am to 7pm
Saturday, 10am to 2pm

call for appointments:

for map, click here.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

when i knew that the Digimob saved me

it was at concert in 2008. i was ecstatic.

Friday, April 03, 2009

friday fun with wordle

what have I been writing about lately?

make your own here.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

a tale of three cities

Monday's Sound of Ideas program on 90.3 WCPN featured a tale of two cities, with representatives from both Cleveland and Pittsburgh discussing recent media perceptions on the relative progression of Pittsburgh vs. the relative calamity in Cleveland.

A must-listen for anyone interested in the Tech Belt.
audio here.

One might summarize the discussion in the program as such:

technology-based economic development is a long-term process, that when done right, yields long-term growth. Pittsburgh, with state support, made investments two decades ago that are now paying off. Cleveland has made similar investments in the last five years.

This overt generalization though does raise this question:

If Pittsburgh began this region-wide push xxx years ago, and Cleveland began this region-wide push xxx years ago, when will the Mahoning Valley begin this push?

We are seeing signs of life out there in the Valley.

An incubator success here, an earmark for research there, a nice speech here, but can this push be larger from the region as a whole?

a full-court press if you will?

- how does the Youngstown region market itself from a tech perspective?
- how do Youngstown tech companies communicate their needs and share information?
- how can local tech entrepreneurs access funds to develop a market assessment or proof of concept?
- who is an advocate for the Youngstown tech community with ODOD and the Third Frontier in Columbus?
- who is coordinating attempts to acquire stimulus funds for regional economic development projects?

Are these real gaps, or minuscule ones?

perhaps what is needed is an organizing collaborative for the local tech community...