Saturday, October 31, 2009

halloween rust belt chic - ballroom dancing in empty buildings

happy halloween all.

lots of events downtown tonight.

last night, the streets were alive with the zombie dead.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

friday's zombie crawl meets at Oak Hill Cemetery - makeup to be provided

It seems over 170 people have signed up on Facebook alone for Friday's downtown Zombie Crawl.

Everyone is invited to attend - even those who don't regularly visit social networking sites.

However it's not just a walk through town, but a string of live-action, historical, and downtown exploring events.

(sweet posters!)

The City of Youngstown - The Oakland Center for the Arts - The Mahoning Valley Historical Society invites all the interested and curious to the...


here is the lowdown:

Meet at the uber-historic and cool Oak Hill Cemetery / local make-up artists will be onsite with Zombie make-up $5 / The Mahoning Valley Historical Society will be giving organizing tours of the Cemetery.

Zombies and all interested parties will gather at the Mr. Peanut Bridge. (red bridge connecting downtown to the Commons)

All zombies in attendance will saunter over the Mr. Peanut Bridge to West Federal Street and beyond, creating mayhem in the streets. (note: for eating purposes, the YBI has a high concentration of brains in the vicinity)

Crawl ends.... Youngstown Zombie madness parties start all over

8pm - 11pm
the Mahoning Valley Historical Society will host a Halloween Party at the Burt Building (325 W. Fed - where ice cream on a stick was invented) $10 includes haunted tour through the historic Burt Bld. local ghost stories, frightful artifacts, costume contest, dancing, and cash bar.

the Oakland Center for the Arts will have $10 tix for their opening night of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show".

Later in the evening, select downtown establishments will offer drink specials for Zombies only. They include:
The Draught House
The Lemon Grove
Rosetta Stone
Buffalo Wild Wings
Cafe Cimmento
The Royal Oaks

if you ever wondered what happened to the Chairman on Iron Chef:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

new web site for ybi now up

a revamped website for the Youngstown Business Incubator is now up and running at

the Frequently Asked Questions section is especially well done, for those looking to understand what the YBI is all about. (link here for FAQs)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

video of casino debate: "Issue 3 enshrines a monopoly in the Ohio constitution"

The decision on Issue 3 is less about a thumbs up/thumbs down vote on gambling in Ohio alone, but instead is more about shortchanging the people of Ohio through large cash shifts to two private companies.

Still not decided?

Well, the City Club up in Cleveland has posted this week's Issue 3 debate online between Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams and Quicken Loans' Dan Gilbert on YouTube. After some introductions, the debate begins at the 4:30 mark...

Part 2 here. (10 minutes)
Part 3 here. (10 minutes - questions from IdeaStream)
Part 4 here. (10 minutes - on amending the constitution)
Part 5 here. (10 minutes - on equitable tax rates)
Part 6 here. (10 minutes - final statements)

- - -

Issue 3 as written selects four specific parcels on Ohio to build these casinos, and exclusively embeds those four locations in the state constitution.

The parcel in Columbus is located right in their Arena District, a super-rich area to begin with. Millions and millions of dollars will be flowing from the rest of Ohio into already super-rich Columbus. More of Dayton's wealth into Columbus, more of Southeast Ohio's wealth into Columbus, more of Central Ohio's wealth into Columbus.

watch the videos yourself, and remember to fill out your absentee ballots or vote early if you are able to do so.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

the current view from my inner city neighborhood within youngstown ohio

It's wonderful having Mill Creek Park located on the edge of your neighborhood.

A view from Fellow Riverside Gardens overlooking Lake Glacier:

Things are starting to pick up in the Garden District.

An expanded botanical gardens, surrounded by greenspace on three sides, a neighborhood plan, ethnic eats, reasonable commercial and residential space, and most important...GREAT neighbors.

more here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

why you might want to vote "no" Issue 3, regardless of your personal politics

Issue 3, the current push to allow casino gambling in state of Ohio, is a poorly designed and unjust effort.

You, the voter, really need to examine the ballot language on Issue 3 to assist your decision.

Upon reading it, I personally became convinced the current casino plan is an unwise path for our state to follow.

Please vote "no" on Issue 3.

I'll argue in the space below - regardless of your political persuasion - Issue 3 is something that may conflict with your virtues.

- - -

As an economic development professional, I contend Issue 3 is not economic development.

In the field, the present casino proposal is what is known as "bad money" in a local economy.

Please click here to read an old post about concept of "good, bad, and neutral" money.

one regularly-heard beef is that the current design unfairly shifts and redistributes money throughout Ohio, and will exacerbate hardships for many communities and individuals.

but here are some other concerns may more align with your sensibilities:

If your preferences are more Libertarian, Issue 3 stifles competition and creates a monopoly for a handful of entities. How is creating a monopoly in this case in Ohio's long-term best interests?

If Republican - for Issue 3 to take shape, Ohio voters are asked to change the state constitution. Not state law, but the constitution. How is an act like altering the constitution in Ohio's long-term best interests?

If Democrat - Issue 3 if passed will shift billions of dollars from people to the hands of a few. How is massive wealth distribution to make rich people even richer in Ohio's long-term best interests?

If an independent Mahoning Valley resident - Issue 3 if passed gives the shaft to the people of Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties. Construction jobs go to places like Cincinnati and Columbus. It ignores the rest of the state. How is building casinos in already more prosperous portions of the state in Ohio's long-term best interests?

Nearby casinos aren't doing well either.

Pittburgh's new casino is performing poorly, already not able to make its payments. Detroit's Greektown casino has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The former Cleveland mayor and retiring Senator George Voinovich has brought up other interesting points recently, including already formed sweetheart deals, low returns to the state, and marginal new job creation.

Little gain for a lot of pain.

After reading the ballot language, please join me in voting no on Issue 3.

Friday, October 16, 2009

it's the diaspora, stupid.

Is a fundamental component of improving a regional economy improving the connectivity to a region's own diaspora?

Today's Youngstown Vindicator highlights the opening of the VXI Center in 20 Federal Place, and tells the story of how the communications company selected the Mahoning Valley as a place to expand:
"Chris Butcher, who started with VXI Global Solutions two years ago in Los Angeles, said he and a few others talked up Youngstown when they heard the company was looking to locate its first call center in the Eastern time zone.

“I said, ‘If you want more people like us, and if you want to get the results we’re getting, come to Youngstown, Ohio,” said Butcher, 35, a Howland native who now lives in Hubbard.

Tobias Parrish, vice president of U.S. operations for the Los Angeles-based company, said executives looked at the area based on employee recommendations and liked what they saw."

"VXI intends to fill up the fourth floor of the building with 500 workers and has talked to the city about adding more workers on the fifth floor as business grows."
This blog reviewed last week the value proposition of expanding your technology-based business to the city of Youngstown:
"Youngstown has some of the lowest prices for office space and skilled labor costs in the United States; Youngstown is in close proximity to some of the smartest places and largest markets in the world (including Pittsburgh of G20 fame); Youngstown is home to its own clusters of IT and advanced materials companies and research; and, Youngstown now has the political and community leadership who are ready and willing to engage you."
Video and Business-Journal story with further details here.

Yesterday, the Greater Youngstown 2.0 blog highlighted some of the political leadership.

fired up . . . ready to go.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

flip through ybi's Technology Forward 2009 magazine

The "Youngstown Business Incubator" is a set of three words that has been popping up all over the place.

Whether you've heard the words on the floor of the U.S. Senate, you've read them in this week's international print edition of The Economist, or you've seen them adorn buildings in downtown youngstown, the YBI presence and economic impact is continually growing.

But do you, dear reader, actually knows what goes on within those walls?

If you're curious, or if you know the generalities but not the specifics, then please check out this magazine:

The following link

will take you to a 28 page overview, highlighting the philosophy, the companies, and the various projects that are taking place through the YBI.

in school, it would be referred to "required reading".

read it online, print it out, email to a friend...

and become further informed on what is going on in downtown youngstown.

Monday, October 12, 2009

rust belt chic - exhibit A

I'll be building a case over the next few weeks.

Rust Belt Chic:
when daytime bocce courts with a few rows of seating (where else in America are there stands for bocce spectators?) get converted into a discothèque at night...

Friday, October 09, 2009

The Economist: "Youngstown . . . A young town again"

Maximizing your profitability as a company, or trying to find the best place to expand your business is a tough task.

If you're reading this post right now and have a son, daughter, cousin, family member, or friend who may influence the future direction of the company they work for, consider sending them the address for this post:

After reading the article from this week's international print edition of The Economist, while it is clear there is much work to do - the value proposition of Youngstown as a place to start or expand a business is coming into sharper focus...

Youngstown has some of the lowest prices for office space and skilled labor costs in the United States; Youngstown is in close proximity to some of the smartest places and largest markets in the world (including Pittsburgh of G20 fame); Youngstown is home to its own clusters of IT and advanced materials companies and research; and, Youngstown now has the political and community leadership who are ready and willing to engage you.

to highlight one component from "Youngstown - A young town again":
"Yet for the first time in years morale in the city seems to have improved. One developer is hard at work converting old downtown high-rises into stylish new apartments. And Federal Plaza, the once abandoned main drag, is now speckled with a few clubs and restaurants. On Friday and Saturday nights, twenty-somethings spill out onto the pavements."
- - -

It's interesting to wonder . . .

Out of all the cities in the world The Economist could profile this week in its pages, why choose Youngstown?

Whatever the reason, realize that as people around the world this week read this article, the story of a rebounding Youngstown with its own special value proposition will be in front of their faces.

And in their minds, the realization of Youngstown as a place of opportunity strengthens.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Polish Youngstown celebrates 1st anniversary thursday with "vodka fusion night"

People look at me like I'm nuts when I say this,

but one of the best things you can do with those extra quarts of vodka we all have lying around the house is to drop a couple sticks of fresh horseradish root inside.

keep the horseradish in the bottle for three days, strain, store in the freezer, and serve.

na zdrowie.

- - -

If you've never tried infusing your own vodka or making vodka-based mixes, Thursday's event at the Lemon Grove in downtown youngstown may be perfect for you.

It's the one-year celebration of the Polish Youngstown group, formed to join the various Polish entities around town to promote "Kultura Polska" and such.

Flying in from New York City will be the brand manager from Żubrówka bison grass vodka to share some recipes and infusion tips.

similar to all the Polish Happy Hour events, Thursday after-work event starts at 5:30pm and will feature authentic Polish Hors’douvres, Zywiec (pronounced zhee-vee-ets) beer, acoustic live music, and door prizes.

just show up and join in.

could anything be more rust belt chic?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Light The Wick presents news and arts by YSU students

just a short post today...a new weekly production has hit the internet:

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

the excitement of buying a house in the city of youngstown - personal stories

A trend has been popping up online - people writing about their decision to purchase a home in the city of youngstown.

The most recent example comes from today's edition of RustWire, featuring a female in her late 20s who works downtown and purchased a 1927 craftsman-style home on the south side.

she wrote:
"I began my search in Youngstown, focusing on both the north and south sides of the city. I first moved to the north side of Youngstown in 1999, stayed mostly in the city for the majority of my time in college, and then found an amazing job in downtown Youngstown.

Being familiar with living in the city, especially the north side, I had no apprehensions about moving back."
wow, check out the woodwork:

the piece ends:
"My goal is not only to live in Youngstown, taking great care of my house but also my street, block, and city. There are many good people and homes left in our city, still many great neighborhoods with architecture unknown to the modern contractor, yet to be discovered."
- - -

These types of stories are important.

They not only illustrate the facts on the ground - that people are choosing Youngstown - but they can also help others who are curious to form their own path to live here.

It's possible the path may illustrate to other readers a jumble of true feelings: apprehension, excitement, pride of historical craftsmanship, accomplishment, etc.

Here's the vibe from another new local blog, a recent newcomer to the Mahoning Valley:
"This is like something out of a dream...I can't believe that we might--ok we will?--get to have this house! I imagine myself snuggling into this house like a blanket on a cold night and never leaving..."
some are discovering the history of their Youngstown house:
"I spent some time this week doing research into previous owners of our house on the north side, part of the Crandall Park-Fifth Avenue Historic District. The research involved simply reading through the city directories from the ’20s through the ’80s."

"1927: Alfred O. & Mary K. Stuart. Alfred was chief clerk at First National Bank on 10 West Federal. The bank was the “oldest national bank in Ohio” and the third oldest in the U.S. (Not sure what qualified it as a “national” bank and what the difference is between that and anything else.) Their previous residence was 221 W Madison, and they later moved to 143 Park Avenue."

Here is a reoccurring story:

If you are a person looking to live comfortably while maintaining your costs - as a retiree, an artist, a writer, a software consultant, or a consultant with your choice of three major airports within an hour's drive - the city of Youngstown may be a great fit for you.

says another:
"I’ve spent the past twelve years moving around from apartment to apartment, and now I have this whole place and neighbors and a street (a tiny little street, which feels like its own little community) and, and, and . . . it feels really different being a homeowner than a renter.

And I hadn’t expected that.

It’s a good thing, I think, to feel that you have a place of your own."
- - -

These simple, yet personal stories each come from one person's experience.

Do you have a relocation story to share?

Youngstown - you can be a part of it.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

would you prefer to drink regional craft beers or run in a race?

So many decisions in life...

to taste ethnic eats and drink craft beers, or to run a 10k...

Luckily in downtown youngstown on Sunday you can do either, or both.

- - -

Sunday Oct 4 will the the 35th annual Youngstown Peace Race, an event that brings runners from around the world to the mahoning valley.

The race meanders a 5+ mile path through Mill Creek Park and its lakes and ravines, emptying the runner into downtown youngstown and to the finish line. If you've ever done the drive in the fall, it's spectacularly beautiful.

At the finish fine downtown from 11am-5pm will the Oktober Ethnicity Fest, where people can taste food from Youngstown's different eateries, try brews from across the Tech Belt, and listen to music.

Participating breweries will be Rust Belt Brewing Co. (Youngstown) Brew Kettle (Strongsville), Thirsty Dog (Akron), and Church Brew Works (Pittsburgh).

local Hungarian, Greek, Irish and Hispanic food vendors will all be serving downtown.

music in sets by Bouzoukeetime (Greek), Innovacion (Latin), County Mayo (Irish), and Geo C and the Storm (Funk).

Friday, October 02, 2009

Grey to Green Fest 2009 photos up

check them out here.

Nice work.

let me know as your gallery pops up online and I will add them here.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

"ruin porn" or "how lazy journalists love pictures of abandond stuff"

An article in this week's Detroit Free Press led me to a very stimulating piece in Vice Magazine, of all places.

So while I was putting on my lamé pants over my baby rib briefs, I had the chance to read "Something, Something, Something, Detroit" by Thomas Morton.

An excerpt:
For a while James was getting four to five calls a week from outside journalists looking for someone to sherpa them to the city’s best shitholes, but they’ve finally begun leaving him alone since he started telling them to fuck off.

“At first, you’re really flattered by it, like, ‘Whoa, these professional guys are interested in what I have to say and show them.’ But you get worn down trying to show them all the different sides of the city, then watching them go back and write the same story as everyone else. The photographers are the worst. Basically the only thing they’re interested in shooting is ruin porn.

The Michigan Central Depot is a hulking, bombed-out turn-of-the-century train station that’s constantly used by papers and magazines as a symbol of the city’s rot. The only problem is, aside from looking the part, it doesn’t have too much to do with any of the issues it usually gets plastered above.

It’s owned by a billionaire trucking tycoon, not the bankrupt city; it was shut down back in the 80s, not because of any of the recent crap. Nevertheless, back in December when the auto executives were in front of Congress, Time ran a photo essay to go with the story, opening and closing with shots of the terminal.

ruin porn.

In my mind, the interesting term reflects a journalist's desire to document and show off the less-desirable sides of a community over and over and over again without presenting the entire complexity of circumstances within that community.

ruin porn - you know it when you see it.

- - -

So does the inability for reporters or media production specialists to tell the whole story at times produce some of the community angst that simmers to the surface?

Being a journalist is hard work.

As the Vice piece highlights, reporters are often dropped into a situation for a limited amount of time and told to produce good work with limited resources.

I remember the discussions and negative pushback after Presidential candidate John Kerry visited the Mahoning Valley in 2004. After finding a rusted hulk of a building to use as a background, his crew set up a well-framed camera shot of Sen. Kerry.

People were disappointed.

The campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton did not make the same decision in 2008.

- - -

By no means should the media stay away from Youngstown.

Generation after generation, the place has an important story of America to tell the world.

Just don't come looking for a cheap set of images. No one likes being treated like a backdrop.

again, from the article:
“Look, we get like 30 emails a week from people.

What happens is they go off and write their story and nothing ever happens here except we get more and more requests. Now, like, Delta’s inflight magazine is contacting us.

I don’t know what to say to Delta’s inflight magazine.”