Monday, August 31, 2009

final downtown youngstown movie of the summer is this monday, aug 31st

Relaxing family picnics and hundreds of people spread over the lawn.

That's the image that comes to mind when I think about the 2009 summer movie series in downtown youngstown.

The last movie of the year is tonight, and here is a local short put together about the effort:

This whole story, on how the movie series came to be, began last year and continued this year because of a handful of individuals.

A few committed people, who simply wanted to do it - did it.

just do it.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

but the traficant issue is a business issue

Within 10 minutes of waking up this morning, I picked up the Sunday edition of the Youngstown Vindicator outside the front door.

Inside today's pages, there was a very well-written and reasoned piece by the CEO of the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber concerning this week's upcoming release of Jim Traficant. It contained several thoughtful points, including the following passage:
"He has paid for his crimes and deserves to be with his family and friends. He deserves to be free and enjoy the things in life that are important to him. I do wish him well.

However, it’s one thing to wish someone well, someone who has completed his debt to society, but quite another thing to celebrate his release and homecoming.

Celebrating James Traficant’s return, as some in the Mahoning Valley are doing, is inappropriate.

He is a convicted felon, someone who brought shame and ridicule to his office and to his community."
While you can read the rest here, kudos needs to be given to the Chamber and their leadership, on taking a stance on this issue.

Let's hope the national and local media who report on this story in the week to come will present a balanced approach on the opinions that exist in this community regarding the release.

- - -

Another story in today's paper includes some reactions to the Chamber piece.

according to one voice:
"I’d just like to see the chamber help my clients get more information, grants, find new markets [and] not expound about non-business issues like Traficant."
- - -

So is this topic a non-business issue?

I remember in 2000 one of my first site visits - to Atlanta, Georgia - and meeting a gentleman who upon hearing I was from the Mahoning Valley, made comments about the corruption that existed in some of the elected officials. As a business person, the existence of corruption created a flashing sign in his mind, to stay away, and just not do business in the Mahoning Valley.

Indeed, the existence and celebration of corruption today contributes to the hindrance of long-term economic growth.

A proper interest of the Chamber is the long-term economic strength of the region.

Thus, it is proper for the Chamber to speak out on this issue.

Friday, August 28, 2009

free accordion and polka lessons, and more, at this sunday's Polish Fest

It's been a rough week, not much personal time to post, so boy am I looking forward to a pivo.

Luckily I can get some cold frosty ones "straight outta Poland" at the big festival this Sunday, August 30.

I'll just quickly repost some of the details of Polish Day 2009, courtesy of the good people at Polish Youngstown. A SY review of last year's event here.

- Polish-style polka mass with Fr. Joe Rudjak at 11:30am
- Polish food buffet with pierogies, haluski, potato pancakes and more!
Hosted by Sedem Roses of Slavic Village in the Cleve
- Polish Bakery & Deli with homemade paczki donuts, kielbasa, kieszka and more!
- Polish Beer
- Two big polka bands, Ethnic Jazz & Ray Jay & the Carousels
- Live broadcast of Happy Polkaland Radio Show
- Endless basket auction and hourly door prize giveaways
- Folk dance performance
- Polka lessons and demonstrations
- Marketplace vendors that includes Polish pottery, amber jewelry, wooden eggs, folk and iconic art.
- FREE workshops on Polish culture, genealogy, travel and much more!
- FREE children’s activities all afternoon!

11:30 AM - 8:00 PM
St. Anne’s Catholic Church
3055 South Raccoon Road
Youngstown, OH 44515

the new school fuses with the old skola at these events, so come on out...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

how can we as individuals help city school students?

Even though the Youngstown Early College (YEC) was awarded the highest rating in the state's report card system - an "Excellent", meeting 11 of 12 indicators and a performance index of 103.9 out of 120 - the city's school district as a whole did not fare as well.

While I am curious as to what percentage of city residents actually have children of school-attending age, the desire to make life better for the kids of our city should come as a responsibility to all city residents, if not everyone in the metro region.

- - -

now an open question, looking for honest answers:

so besides paying our property taxes, what can we as private citizens do to improve the education and well-being of children that are growing up in the city?

I'm looking for ways individuals can help.

I'm looking for names and programs and suggestions such that people that come to this blog in the future will see outstanding solutions in the "comments" section.

big brothers-big sisters?


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

a night slice of vexfest6

didn't make it over to VexFest until 11pm, but took some video while Jones for Revival and The Zou were playing.

The lights on the Realty Towers look good in the video.

fait maison bikes and treehouses were part of the federal street landscape.

What happened to the lights on the Man on the Monument however?

to get some perspective over the entire day's events, you can access Valley24's collection of photos here.

even though I was there for less then an hour, kudos goes to the people who put this all together. It must be a lot of work bringing setting up an all-day free event like this.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

fire-swallowing classes downtown youngstown this weekend (you get to keep the torch you make)

On both Saturday August 22 and Sunday August 23 you can participate in one barnburner of an event - a fire-swallowing class offered by Travis of the Pickled Brothers Sideshow.

participants will learn:
• Fire Safety
• Torch and prop making
• Fire-Eating
• Fire-Breathing

Props, fuel, workbooks and other supplies will be provided.
Participants will make and keep their own torches.
cost is $75

if you are interested, email
travis (at)

don't worry, you can trust Travis.

He is the current "World Record Title Holder for Number of Live Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches Held in Mouth for Longest Amount of Time" and a cool dude.

check him out on Leno here:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

on c-span: mayor announces 500+ job expansion to downtown youngstown

Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams appeared on c-span on Wednesday and discussed primarily the economic situation of the city. You can watch the 30 minute segment here.

This was the mayor's second time on the nationwide program this year (a description of the first interview here).

The Business-Journal did a nice job of capturing the content of the segment, which can be found here.
"During the segment, Williams characterized Youngstown's economy as "a mixed bag," coping with current economic circumstances as well as the lingering affects of the collapse of the steel industry more than a generation ago. While the city is feeling the effects of the downturn, he said the city is "holding its own," and has a number of economic development projects in the works."
The mayor referenced on the air how a major announcement was coming later in the afternoon.

Then *boom* ... at 2pm in City Council Chambers, it was announced VXI Global Solutions of Los Angeles is looking to expand 500 new positions in their growing company into downtown youngstown. By October 1st, 150 people will be in 20 Federal Place, adding 50 more a month until they hit five-hundred more people working downtown.

That's 500 people eating, walking, looking for services... all downtown.

But you need to go to the Business-Journal's main website today and here the 3 minute conversation on how the deal got done.

To hear Mayor Jay tell it, the fact that Youngstown was just named this month by Entrepreneur magazine as one of the top 10 cities in the U.S. to start a business verified the decision to expand their operations to Youngstown.

The Wall Street Journal on Thursday restated the fact Youngstown was named one of the top 10 cities in the U.S. to start a business.

quick reactions, access to leadership, skilled labor force.

that's Youngstown 2010.

relocating support staff are already inquiring about where to live in the region.

good work, team Youngstown.

- - - -

ps. why are the c-span interview filmed in Pittsburgh? Can we get a location in the Mahoning Valley to do that, with a shot of the Youngstown skyline in the background?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

a call for artists: $103,000 commission at new YSU business school

The Ohio Percent for Art Program is looking for artists regarding indoor and outdoor pieces at the new YSU business school being built (construction cam here).

The commission: $103,000

from the request:
"This area will have a strong pedestrian link and will establish an urban edge of the campus. The artist should be able to work with a design team and architects. Three locations have been identified as potential sites for artwork: screening around north east parking area, south outdoor green space and inside gathering spaces which includes the atrium and cafe.

The new building is a three-story 110,000 square foot building designed to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) certification. Designed to provide a professional business environment in which to educate students and engage the business community, the new building will provide public gathering space, a conference center, large auditorium, and visible and accessible centers for international business, entrepreneurship, nonprofit leadership, business development and consulting.

As such, it will be a focal point within the University that will invite individuals and organizations from the region to join YSU in ways that support economic and community development. The new building will bridge the university with the downtown community and become the high-profile ''southern entrance'' to the YSU campus."
all materials are due Aug 28 2009

you can access the proposal here.

and let the national laughing spree begin...

I've heard from multiple people that the guys and gals behind the Mahoning Valley Scrappers in Niles Ohio, the A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, are really quality people.

We must take care to differentiate between good people and bad decisions.

But thanks to the promotional efforts of the team's management, the ghost of political, ethical, and representative destruction is being picked up by the national media.

Again, there are probably (hopefully) good people in the MV Scrappers organization, but I think it's time to say:

it's time to cancel Jim Traficant night at the ballpark.

it's time to move on.

what do you think?

- - - - -

update: to the Scrappers' credit, Jim Traficant night has been canceled. (link)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

a look inside the YBI's INSPIRE! lab

now any enterprising entrepreneur - anyone - has a place to concentrate, network, and innovate in the confines of the Youngstown Business Incubator.

The YBI's INSPIRE! space comes after a $15,000 donation by the Dominion Foundation.

Check out the photos from the inside of the space:

Art furbished by local students will be rotated through the space on a regular basis.

Separate offices and meeting rooms exist, as do plugs and wireless internet.

Monday, August 10, 2009

sunday mill creek park lullaby

During a day like today - hot, hot, hot - Our Park can be such a cool and relaxing place.

from the person who posted this video on YouTube:
"I have so many happy memories of this place as a child regardless of the time of year. I had the photos start in the spring and end in the winter."

so when you to bed tonight Youngstowners, know these pictures are all within your city.

sweet dreams

Sunday, August 09, 2009

how it's made: exal's aluminum extruded cans and sculpture at the Butler

advanced manufacturing today really is an artform.

There was an interesting story in a recent Youngstown Vindicator article about fusing the artistic talents of the Butler Art Museum with the manufacturing expertise of Exal, both of Youngstown.

Check out a video of the announcement here.

But looking around Exal's website, they have an amazing three-part video on their production methods from melting aluminum slugs to printing colors on the finished bottle product.

You can find the video here, but you need to click on "plant tour" then "manufacturing process video" to watch it.

This operation looks like a finalist for the Science Channel's show How It's Made.

- - -

Speaking of wonderful art, tomorrow August 9th is the last day of the amazing kinetic sculptures of Bob Potts at the Butler. Here is one example of the amazing things you may see there:

noon to 4pm on Sundays

pro bono publico
(for the public good - always free)

Friday, August 07, 2009

"they kicked butt" - a united Mahoning Valley snags regionalism awards

In an announcement by the Fund For Our Economic Future (FFEF can be described as a mega-regional northeast ohio foundation aggregator), two projects from the Mahoning Valley came in the top three in vote getting - enabling cash to be awarded for local projects.

you can watch the announcement here.

from the FEFF's blog:
"After 31 days of voting and strong “get-out-the-vote” campaigns by the nine finalists, the residents of Northeast Ohio have made their choice and determined the three EfficientGovNow collaboration projects that will receive grants from the Fund for Our Economic Future.

A total of 13,483 qualified votes were cast during July. Individuals could vote for up to three projects, with point values assigned for each first, second and third place vote."

11,760 votes - Mahoning River Corridor Redevelopment Project
10,197 votes - Regional Fire District Project – Cuyahoga/Lorain
9,143 votes - Mahoning-Ytown Regional Information System (MYRIS)

5,379 votes - Storm Water Conveyance System in Stark County
5,013 votes - Rittman & Orrville Schools Administrative Compact

from a story in today's Business-Journal:
"That two area projects were among the nine finalists was “a significant achievement all by itself,” Mamula said. “I guess we’re doing something right.”

“They kicked butt. I don’t know any other way to put it,” remarked Chris Thompson, spokesman for the Fund for Our Economic Future."

the story continues...
"The competition “has helped move our area in the right direction,” Tony Paglia, vice president of governmental affairs at the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, said in a statement. “We’re a more united Valley than we’ve been before and this collaboration experience will affect the region for a long time to come.”

Paglia noted that a network of chamber members, nonprofit groups, local governments, educational institutions, bloggers and individuals promoted the concerted get-out-the-vote campaign for the local projects."

best of luck to those implementing these projects, and thanks to the Fund for engaging the Mahoning Valley.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

a closer look inside The Semple

Tucked right next to the Home Savings building on Federal Street is the Semple Building, which has had a really interesting history as a structure over the years. (more on that history later)

Its current renovation will enable the Semple to become the 3rd structure of the Youngstown Business Incubator complex, with all three buildings connected for the employees of various technology companies to walk back and forth and interact.

Here's a shot of the exterior:

but what's the current status of the construction on the inside?

let's take a look...

Simply put, the Semple Building is a 17,357 sq ft four-story filled with a melange of different types of wood and varied brickwork. In the many nooks and crannies of the building, one can see how the structure has developed over the years.

For example, large cut stones fill in the area in the basement.

Also in the basement, one can see the access tunnels that lead to underneath Federal Street. At some point, these access tunnels were bricked over.

As bricks were added over the years, many locations have multiple layers of the material.

Here's a bricked-in archway...

Here's a section with four different types of brick in one view...

Going up to higher floors, the new steps meet the old bricks...

the view from the 2nd floor of the Warner Theater and the Ford Theater...

and on the top floor, the original skylights will illuminate the space of a future downtown company...

finally, here is the finished product, with one quadrant of the building already inhabited...

it's shaping up to be a nice project.

can you envision your technology company in these kind of spaces?

then come to downtown youngstown and set up shop.
the doors are open for the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

rust belt beer now bottled and in stores

Made the walk to my grocery store in the city on Sunday and strolled leisurely down the beverage isle.

Here is what I saw:

refrigerated, 22-ouncers from the Rust Belt Brewery Company.

check out the condensation:

and looking at the label on the side:
"Product of the USA. Youngstown, Ohio"

"U.S. Steel. Youngstown Sheet and Tube. Republic Steel. These are some of the industries that built the Mahoning Valley...

We brew each batch with the exact precision and dedication of the men and women who made these industries thrive. This beer is a tribute to their hard work and sacrifices that have stained our river a rusted red."
from their website:

We are always looking for additional distributors to deliver our product. Interested patrons, please contact us at:
rustybrew (at) gmail (dot) com

- - -

can beer bring the Rust Belt together?