Friday, March 25, 2011

so, exactly what types of products are being made in the Youngstown Business Incubator?

this video shows the products of three of the YBI's growing companies:

All of these companies are locate in the Tech Block, with their physical addresses on downtown youngstown's main street.

Actually, it's a pretty good intro into the software being developed on-site, with Youngstown's world-class talent.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Bridge presents tonight "Skateistan: To Live and Skate in Kabul" [Afghanistan] and skating-themed local shorts

tonight, on Saturday March 19th, the same crew that brought you this fantastic video of skateboarding in downtown youngstown...

... will be showcasing a series of skating films and video clips and music at The Oakland.

Kicking off at 7pm, the event tonight will feature the following film about skateboarding in the war-torn street of Kabul, Afghanistan.

The film seems to hit on many aspects with a broad interest: urban life, skateboarding, religious conflict with modernity, and hope in a place where outsiders cry there is no hope.

Facebook site for the event here.

Admission $5

@ The Oakland on Boardman Street in downtown youngstown.

Friday, March 18, 2011

behind the grid - a recap of youngstown's first crossword puzzle tournament

I remember cramping up in the third round.

It was during the Tulsa Crossword Shootout of 1987.

In my 37 years of professionally judging crossword puzzle tournaments, it was the first time hitting what us athletes call "the wall."

And there, my friends, is a lesson I'd like to share as you continue your crossword-puzzle ways:

always. stay. hydrated.

- - -

Youngstown's first ever crossword puzzle tournament was actually a pretty darn cool event.

First off, it was a great mix of pure enjoyment and fun competition. Enough competition where it was tense in the finals, but relaxed enough that it was not intimidating.

Second, the event raised money for the entire county's library system. A good cause for sure.

Third, the snacks were spectacular.

How spectacular?

Well, how about this amazingly beautiful and just delicious crossword-themed buttercream cake from Clarencedale Cakes:

This was followed by the WORLD'S FIRST crossword-themed Youngstown-style cookie table.

Did you know oreos are the official cookie of crossword puzzle tournaments? (black and white, and the word is often in puzzles)

I bet the national crossword tournament doesn't even have a spread like this...

About the tournament itself...

participants sat in their own walled off spaces, yet could view the clock up front.

each round had a day-of-the-week puzzle fresh from editor Will Shortz at the New York Times.

round one (Monday puzzle) - 15 minutes to complete
round two (Tuesday puzzle) - 20 minutes to complete
round three (Wednesday puzzle) - 20 minutes to complete

in between each round, every puzzle is judged by an esteemed panel, checking for accuracy and time to complete.

Both factors, time to complete and accuracy, are blended together to make the score for the round which was posted (I have a good picture of the scores taped to the door of the library, but the competitors and scores will remain a secret).

It was amazing to see a handful of people complete the puzzle in just 5 minutes.


These judges were very professional.

Here are the hands of one tireless judge . . . strong, yet tender.

Some judges had special knit grading puzzle cozies to keep their answers warm and secret:

Outside, irish step dancing serenaded the puzzle contestants:

Finally, we get to the final round.

The top three finishers went to the front of the room (after the ceremonial cake was cut by the ceremonial blade) to compete on the Thursday-level puzzle on dry erase boards in front of the audience.

I could not believe how ingenious this puzzle was. Stretched across the middle bar was "its all greek to me", signifying something special in the puzzle.

Turns out there were actually four greek letters one HAD to imbed in the puzzle to make it work.

An example:

70A. What players don't have to travel far for:
answer: HΩME

57D. Difference between the rich and the poor:
answer: INCΩP



three more of those little betties were embedded in the puzzle.

- - -

Overall, the event was a big success, looking to grow for next year.

If you missed the event and want to support the library;s fundraising efforts, you can click here to donate.

Finally, the outstanding Business-Journal newspaper profiled the competition in a great article here.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

high speed rail and train transportation - new time, new place Youngstown's All Aboard Ohio meeting

- - - NEWS FLASH - - -

new early evening time, new location

March 10, 2011
Thursday 6:00pm
@ The MVR in downtown youngstown (MVR map)

In order to accommodate more citizens in learning and getting involved about local passenger rail efforts, the local branch of the All Aboard Ohio train advocacy group will be having its monthly meetings on Thursdays in the early evening. (changing from 12pm on the 16th floor of the Metropolitan Tower downtown)

Your next opportunity to explore the group's efforts will be this Thursday!

While The Guv may have scuttled the Cleveland - Columbus - Cincinnati corridor and its awarded $400 million in federal funds, plans are still ongoing in multiple states with linking President Obama's home of Chicago to points on the east coast.

And trains need to flow between Lake Erie and the mountains, which perhaps places Youngstown along the route.

While the 3C Corridor may be dead, efforts of planning are ongoing to establish the piece of the Cleveland-Youngstown-Pittsburgh in the high-speed rail connection.

Why not stop by and listen?
Good food,
Good ideas,
Trying to improve the quality of life in the Valley.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

thank god for organ donors...

With the finishing touches being applied to the $1.4 million restoration of the Opus 582 in downtown youngstown's Stambaugh Auditorium, the engineering marvel from 1926 is attracting music talent from around the world.

The restored organ with its 3,847 pipes (I've also read 3,905 pipes) and hand-crafted wood panels and metal ornaments seems quite at home at the irreplaceable Stambaugh Auditorium.

From its inside...

the concert hall:

the marble room:

the grand ballroom:

(previous three photos from Stambaugh Auditorium's website)
(more interior and exterior photos here)

according to this article in the Business-Journal, a $750,000 grant was provided by the Joseph G. Bradley Charitable Foundation to aid in the reconstruction.

More great information on the refurbishing can be found on the wytv website here.

More video telling the tale here (before) and here (after)...

- - -

The operational skinner joins such other venerable organs downtown like the "Mighty Moeller" at Trinity United Medodist and its 5,000 pipes (link).

one wonders, with all the dozens of theaters and churches in downtown youngstown (past and present), what is the organ-per-capita density compared to other U.S. cities?

Friday, March 04, 2011

one week till Youngstown's first crossword puzzle tournament: a fundraiser for the library

Saturday March 12th will be the date for the first-ever Youngstown Crossword Puzzle Tournament.

I stink at crosswords, unable to complete even the Monday crossword in the New York Times. (did you know nytimes crosswords increase in difficulty by the day in the week?)

Yet I will be there on Saturday as well . . . cause it sounds like fun, and the small $10 registration fee goes to a good cause - to assist programs at The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County. (

Plus, when someone asks me what I did over the weekend, I can say I participated in a crossword tournament, gaining the love and adoration of my co-workers and friends.

The 1st Youngstown Crossword Puzzle Tournament will include:

- four spanking new puzzles provided by Will Shortz, puzzle editor of the nytimes

- the world's first crossword-themed Youngstown Cookie Table

- a special crossword cake by the pastry chefs Clarencedale Cakes

- an individualized mini-crossword cake for the grand winner

- an extra secret prize, you'll for sure be telling your friends about

Most importantly, the $10 registration fee will be your donation to the Public Library System of Youngstown and Mahoning County, which does so many wonderful things for the the community, as highlighted in this video:

Looking to Sign Up for the fun event?

Can't make it to the event and want to support our efforts?

more info is available on the Tournament's Facebook Page.

The tournament will feature three rounds of doing puzzles individually and scored for fun (20 minutes each round for a Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday puzzle), and the top three contestants will advance to a final round and the grand prizes.

The Tournament is from 10am to 1pm on Saturday, March 12th
at the Poland Library (bottom floor near the cafe) in the southeast suburb of Poland, Ohio

A pre-event interactive session will take place from 11am to 12pm this Saturday, March 5th
at the Boardman Library in the southern suburb of Boardman, Ohio
highlighting free crossword puzzle tips for those looking to improve their skills

This tournament benefits the Library System of the entire county!

A nice way for the region to help a great regional organization.

- - -

If you love your library, come out next Saturday or make a donation...

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Govering magazine strikes again - headlining Youngstown to successful state-based economic development within comprehensive article

"In the shadow of the iconic 1919 Home Savings and Loan Company building downtown, a managed cluster of high-tech startups is injecting new energy into the city.

It’s the Youngstown Business Incubator (YBI), a nonprofit corporation, and it’s not only redefining the industry of this hardscrabble valley on the eastern edge of Ohio; it’s changing the notion of what cities and states can do to spur innovation and investment. "
"Now more than ever, states are playing the part of venture capitalist -- and despite the recession, it turns out they’re uniquely suited for the role.

As the recession froze private-sector investment, venture capital firms began avoiding early-stage deals, saving their money for less risky, later stages of development. That created a void.

Governments began to realize they could fill the gap by providing seed money to new startups in all sorts of emerging industries, from biotech and health care to nanotechnology and solar power."
and ending...
"“This is a city that essentially was dying,” says the SSTI’s Berglund. “And they’ve taken a really innovative approach with their incubator program.”

While some may consider it a waste of taxpayer money to heap funds on luring high-tech firms to the Rust Belt, Cossler says Ohio’s venture capital investment is critical.

And, he says, it’s not even all that different from the industry that built Youngstown in the first place. “If you reduce software to a common denominator, it’s a steel company,” he says. “You’re taking raw materials and blending them together to create a value-added product. It’s all manufacturing.”"
click here to read the whole story.