Monday, January 29, 2007

Cleveland Booster Edition

As I suspected, my decision--and public posting of that decision--to bail on Cleveland for the sunnier, chillier shores of the State that's Shaped Like A K has brought a lot of responses. In particular, I face the charge of being overly negative in my criticism. I've run into this charge a lot, actually! Though there is still plenty to talk about, in this post I want to write about two things for you kind readers: (1) my take on my role in the dialog on urban planning and Cleveland, and (2) something I love about Cleveland. If you'll bear with me through the first, somewhat more academic rumination, then hopefully you'll be pleased to hear the second, more Cleveland-congratulatory one.

My Role in the Dialog on Urban Planning and Cleveland

Nice boldface, huh? Anyway, I just wanted to take a moment to talk a bit about talking. Meta-talking, if you will. Clearly there are a lot of people interested in discussing Cleveland's ups and downs. Obviously, I'm one of them. Some of us are professionals; some of us are not. I, for instance, am simply a devoted amateur: I've got an Urban Studies master's (from CSU), but work as a software developer. The debate, I believe, is strengthened when professionals and non-professionals participate in the discussion.

Furthermore, you'll have to believe me when I say I'm really not trying to be a curmudgeonly critic. Yes, I do have a lot of "bad" things to say about this city. But to simply label them as negative misses the point: I'm trying to talk in terms of possibilities. My criticism, as best as I can, is why this or that problems limits the latent possibilities of this or that neighborhood. A lot of the criticism I face runs something like this: You complain about FOO, but you don't really appreciate FOO's great qualities. I'm not quite sure how to respond to that kind of logic; please try to put yourself in my shoes and imagine for a moment that I have a legitimate perspective.

Something I Love About Cleveland

There are, believe it or not, things that I love about Cleveland. Today, I'm going to talk about the Metropark system.

The Metroparks are great! There are parks everywhere in this region. Since I live in Lakewood, I go to Rocky River reservation a lot. They have a great bike path, and there are always people there, pushing strollers, running, walking, biking, and so on. There's even a dog park at the end, with dogs chasing Frisbees and so on.

There's also North Chagrin reservation, a HUGE park over on the East Side with lots of beautiful trails and a gigantic gorge along which you can walk. It's unbelievably beautiful, and untouched!

In Broadview Hts, I believe, there was even a pair of nesting bald eagles for a little while. People would drive up to a safe distance and look at them through binoculars. Wow!

There is, of course, the Cuyahoga Valley Reservation. This is undoubtedly one of Ohio's great parks. I've gone on long winter hikes, where all you can hear is the soft thud of your boots on snow, and even though it's freezing out you've hiked long enough to warm up significantly. It's peaceful and silent, almost divine. I will greatly miss this hike!


Anonymous Johnny Rotten said...

Let's kick apologetics out the door as they relate to Cleveland. Bad is bad and Cleveland is worse. This city is sinking fast and the region around it is sprawling into characterless surbia. Face it, Cleveland will never be a first-rate town. The reality to ensue: The brain drain will continue; the economy will decline further; population will decrease.

What are people doing about it? The chief modus operdani involves sticking one's head in the sand. Most Clevelanders won't ever "get it" -- the fact that there's a problem. The Plain Dealer wrote a series entitled "A Quiet Crisis" that addressed points underpinning Cleveland's downward slide. No one listened and no one seemed to care. "The future dream is a shopping spree..."*

Criticism and negativity are two different things. Criticism is imperative for growth and development. If one cannot take a punch or accept guidance, then he/she will never be a champion. Thus, Gross' reporting of the Cleveland area is not "negative" --meaning it is not focusing on the defects "just because." In fact, he cares for Cleveland more that most and points out the problems with the hope that they can be solved.

The bottom line: Sometimes the truth hurts. Moreover, If we can't be tough on Cleveland and take part in a dialogue -- and hopefully action -- that shapes it's future, then we are poor stewards of this community. We are akin to a neglectful parent that the scriptures augur: "Spare the rod and spoil the child."

* From "Anarchy in the UK" by the Sex Pistols.

11:16 AM  

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