Thursday, July 31, 2008

Policy Link Core Cities Initiative

Many of you may have seen this report on other blogs, but I couldn't resist embedding the interactive map. The Policy Link report defines smaller industrial core cities as those that are:

OLD - Cities that had a population of more than 5000 by 1880, implying an industrial base or concentration of industry and commerce;
SMALL - cities with 15000 to 150,000 residents according to the 2000 U.S. Census Bureau and;
POOR - Cities with a median household income of less than $35,000 according to the 2000 U.S. Census.

The point here is smaller industrial cities can be strong again. Youngstown's 2010 Plan is used as an example of good land use and fiscal policy. Check out the map and click on the Ohio study.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sights and Sounds of Saturday in Youngstown...Sunday is a day of rest for a reason

Saturday, July 26th was jam-packed with things to do. Art Youngstown along with Royal Oaks sponsored the first annual Youngstown Rocks the Arts Festival. The festival was on the grounds next to the Chevy Center in downtown. There were artists and vendors of all kinds, food and beer and two stages with eight hours of free entertainment. I got there just in time to watch the Tara Dance presented by Julie Thomas. The Tara Dance is a meditation that combines sound and movement with the Buddhist principles of wisdom, compassion, and skillful means. The dance involved simple, graceful, tai-chi like movements done in conjunction with Tara Mantras.

...and then there were the 5 Elements. The band does a fusion of rock, reggae, and hip hop music.

...and then it rained and it poured, and the wind blew and finally the sun came back out, and everyone had a grand time. The main stage in addition to the 5 Elements featured November Loop, Realtime Digimon, Starlight Darlings, First in Space, Luke and the Black Hand and Geo C. Brooke Slanina mastered the art of running back and forth between two stages and serving as MC at both. I noticed she started the day off in some really cute slingback shoes, and ended the day in flip flops.

...and then at 7:00 at the DeYor Center, after eight years in the works, "Fine-Tune" had its premier. Chris Rutushin a local filmmaker brings this touching and very funny story about a young married couple to the big screen. "Fine Tune" is about a guy who marries into an Italian Family in the 1970's. The young couple find that they must move back to Youngstown from Columbus, Ohio to take care of "her" family. The film was shot locally, and many of the scenes were filmed at a house near Lanterman's Mill on Canfield Road. There were also great shots of the Royal Oaks, and downtown Youngstown. Great movie! I can't wait for the soundtrack!

...and then there was the party at Cedars.

Matt Palka (also performing on the soundtrack of the film "Fine Tune") played at Cedars after the premier. He was followed by Pete Drivere and the Pretty Demons, and The Zou and Koebel. Great fun was had by all.

...and then, on Sunday I rested.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Youngstown Area Community Theater Awards (YACTA)

Nominations for the Youngstown Area Community Theater Awards (YACTA) were made yesterday at the Rosetta Stone Restaurant in downtown Youngstown.

The Youngstown Playhouse received 29 nominations and Akron's Weathervane Community Playhouse received 25. Top Hat Productions received 21 and the New Castle Playhouse and the Oakland Theater tied for 14. The rest of the nominations were spread across a wide range of theater groups that included the Victorian Players,The Salem Community Theater, Carnation City Players, Boardman Community Theater and Move Over Broadway Productions. Sixty-five productions were eligible for this years Marquee Awards. Congratulations to all of the nominees. The Marquee Awards will be presented August 16 in a ceremony at the Saxon Club on Meridian Road in Youngstown.

The Youngstown Warren area is home to many venues for theatrical performance. Love of theater is embedded in the culture of the area. One of the most well known theater groups was the Kenley Players. To this day one of my favorite nights out is to attend the Carousel Dinner Theater

In Youngstown we are very lucky to be home to numerous venues such as The Youngstown Playhouse, the Oakland Center for the Arts, in downtown Youngstown, The Victorian Players off the spring commons on the West Side of Youngstown, and of course for those who love musicals, Easy Street Productions. For those of you who enjoy a trip down memory lane from time to time check out this video of Elizabeth Hartman who is known for her performance in A Patch of Blue. Take note of her mention of Youngstown throughout the video.

For those of you who are more forward looking, and a like life a little on the fringe,check this out! The local play "Lucusville" will be under the spotlight on the New York City Stage in August. "Lucusville" is an adaptation of the book "Lucusville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising" by Niles author Staughton Lynd. The play has been selected to be part of the 12th annual New York International Fringe Festival.

Ray Beiersdorfer is the producer of "Lucusville" and YSU student, Brandon Martin, is the director. Both are very excited about the opportunity to take the show to New York, but their greatest hope is that the attention could lead Govenor Ted Strickland to reopen an investigation into the Lucasville 5.
Break a leg y'all! and have a great time in the Big Apple.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Grey to Green Festival :Youngstown, Ohio

As people all over the world become deeply concerned about the future of the Earth’s environment, millions are turning their energies toward education and citizen activism. No less so in Youngstown Ohio. Youngstown is launching its first Grey to Green festival on Saturday September 13, 2008 in Wick Park on Youngstown’s North Side.

The goal of the Grey to Green festival is to increase awareness of environmental issues in general, the grey to green concept in the Youngstown 2010 Plan, and the Wick Park Revitalization effort that is currently underway.

On September 13, Wick Park will be transformed into a “green world” that will include environmentally oriented businesses, community organizations, and local and regional agencies. Throughout the park, there will be workshops, displays, demonstrations, entertainment, food, and “green” merchandise vendors. The Festival itself will be put together with an emphasis on sustainable practices – minimal energy and resource consumption, maximum recycling and waste reduction.

The grey to green concept figures prominently in Youngstown’s 2010 Plan. For a while, Youngstown, with its population at just over 80,000 hoped to return to its boomtown roots when it was home to 165,000 citizens and a powerful steel industry. But with the new 2010 Plan, the city is one of the first to embrace shrinkage and the development of green space. Youngstown serves as a model for other rust-belt cities that must recreate and reinvent themselves after years of decline.

The city in a radical move began bulldozing abandoned buildings, tearing up blighted streets and converting entire blocks into open green spaces several years ago. With help from community groups dedicated to reforestation and urban gardening, the abandoned neighborhoods are being returned to a more-natural state, ultimately permitting the city to cut services to less-populated areas and instead concentrate on development where people want to move. Anthony Kobak, Youngstown’s Chief City Planner, says that the goals of the 2010 plan are “to create a safe, clean, enjoyable, sustainable, attractive city.”

In keeping with these goals, CityScape and Defend Youngstown, along with a steering committee consisting of elected officials, city staff, and representatives from various local organizations began an initiative to improve the large and strategically located Wick Park. They brought in the Urban Design Center of Northeast Ohio to provide advice and support to the design process. In a city that is known for its high level of community involvement, the Wick Park design process provides a unique opportunity for the community to re-imagine a public space that supports the city’s goal of becoming a smaller, greener city.

The Grey to Green Festival organizing coalition came together with the shared belief and a shared vision that the collaboration of citizens, agencies, organizations and government can mobilize communities to address important issues and solve problems in new ways by moving from problem-driven solutions to vision-driven solutions.

The organizing coalition includes the Green Team, Youngstown Litter control, Defend Youngstown, CityScape, ReCreate,Treez Please, Grow Youngstown, First Book Mahoning Valley, The Oakland Center for the Arts, Green Energy TV, Art Youngstown, The Wick Park Revitalization Committee, The City of Youngstown’s Planning Department, Youngstown State University’s Environmental Studies Society, faculty and staff from YSU, as well as concerned citizens, block watches and youth groups.

To participate as either a sponsor of the event or as an exhibitor or vendor please contact Debra Weaver (330) 744-1748 or e-mail her at

Mark your calendars now because this event is not one to be missed! Also, please help us spread the word about the event.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Waste Allocation Load Lifters Earth-class

I confess, I'm not very up to date on popular culture. I rarely turn on my television and even less frequently go to a movie theater. My car would sport a "Kill your TV" bumper sticker if I could get my hands on one. However, I recently heard about a movie called WALL-E. It is a PIXAR film and it is a must see for urban planners, garderners, and for anyone who cares about cities.

The movie is about what happens when we take control of our lives and plant gardens. WALL-E is actually a trash compactor. Humans no longer live on earth due to all of the trash,debris,and pollution and WALL-E has been left behind to clean up the mess. One day WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifters Earth-class)stumbles upon a small plant and puts it into an old boot. Shortly thereafter a spaceship lands on earth, and Eve, a probe steps off. WALL-E shows her the plant and she takes it back to her ship. Next thing you know people begin to return to earth and they start planting gardens.

Granted I take issue with the Garden of Eden metaphors, but overall the movie is about how growing food transforms people and the communities they live in. If you have not seen it yet, I highly recommend it.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Rusty Waters Apparel

Congratulations to Rusty Waters Apparel ! Today in the New York Times, there is an awesome article about T-shirts and city pride.

In the article, Catrin Einhorn writes about both GLUE, the Great Lakes Urban Exchange and Youngstown's Rusty Waters Apparel. GLUE is a new group dedicated to bringing post-boomers together to work for the health of post-industrial cities in the Great Lakes Region and Rusty Waters Apparel is a clothing company from Youngstown, Ohio.

Rusty Waters Apparel was started a few years ago by Dominic Gatti, Adam Chizmar and Kate Butler. The purpose of their T-shirt company is to promote life in rust belt cities and to bring attention to the cultural strengths of the rust belt region.

The New York Times article describes in some depth the Rusty Waters Apparel design that depicts the upside down Home Savings and Loan building located in downtown Youngstown. The article also quotes designer Kate Butler's explanation of the symbolism of the shirt, "The fact that it's upside down signifies the struggle that Youngstown has gone through, but the birds are flying right side up, symbolizing hope."

Einhorn points out that the T-shirt makers know that their merchandise will not cure the deep-seated problems of their cities, however they do see the marketing of the designs as a way to fight against powerful stereotypes. The T-shirt makers also see the designs as part of a public relations campaign for their cities, often one more authentic that official public relations campaigns.

I think I'm going to order another one for myself now before demand exceeds supply!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Where is SynchroniCity?

Where is SynchroniCity? It is a city anywhere, it is Anytown USA, and it is Youngstown and Warren, Ohio, cities well known for independent music. It is also home to RuKus Radio, a radio station that brings you some of the best independent music available today, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Music is uploaded by independent musicians everywhere, but nothing beats hearing our Youngstown bands on the radio.

The gang at RuKus Radio have a passion for freedom of expression and they take great joy in celebrating independent music through the discovery and promotion of artists at all levels of success and from all corners of the world free-of-charge. RuKus Radio is an awesome alternative to average radio programing. They utilize the constant flow of advancing technology to deliver an all-encompassing hybrid of media via Internet radio, live recordings, broadcasts, and streaming video. RuKus Radio has been streaming live since January 1, 2008. Take a visit to SynchroniCity, you'll never want to leave. While you are there introduce yourself to Moe and Sarah at the RuKus forum.

Summer in the City - First Annual Downtown Dash

Thursday evening was the first annual Downtown Dash. If you didn't make it I am so sorry. My good friend over at Youngstown Renaissance said, "He needs to get out more." I say if you weren't there,so do you, and I hope you don't make that mistake again as there are plenty of events happening in the city this summer. Make sure you check out Phil Kidd's continually updated list of events and I'll see you next time.

The Dash was exhilarating and the weather was perfect. It was an evening journey that started at 5:00 PM with registration. It was here that the hosts of the event provided buttons, maps, and coupons for discounted drinks,and sent you on your way to the fifteen participating bars and restaurants. The goal was to make it to every single one of them throughout the evening, imbibe in a drink of your choice, have someone from the establishment mark your map to indicate that you had actually been there, and at the evening's end claim the coveted prize of a Downtown Dash T-shirt.

A limo was available to transport everyone from place to place. It made rounds about every twenty minutes, traveling from downtown to the Royal Oaks on the east side, back to the north side campus establishments, onward to Charlie Staples,the Box Car Lounge by the B & O Station, and once again back to downtown. As Phil Kidd stated to the Vindicator, "Every bar was full and the shuttle was running.". The streets of the city were flowing with people, laughter was in the air, music was in the streets from Jones Revival and The Zou, and there were celebratory fireworks.