Submitted by lmcshane on Fri, 03/16/2007 - 12:52.

We just got back from Pittsburgh from the beautiful Priory Hotel, visiting my sister and her frenetic family (two hyperactive boys 3 and 5 and her harried husband-hence the hotel stay).  Local innkeeper Henry is coming here soon to stay at the Baricelli Inn and visit the Rock Hall.  So, not all Pittsburghers have a hard time with us Clevelanders.  Visited the Park House in Deutschetown and got raves from an Irish lass from Mayo, too, and also compliments on C-town from a telecommunications expert from Atlanta.  Carnegie Mellon students have set up a free site to promote businesses development  Check it out.

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MyMave is cool - Pittsburgh is cool - we're all friends

Thanks - MyMave is very interesting - I set up an account and got two business inquiries right off the bat... beauty of being global and virtual

Evelyn, Sudhir and I went to Pittsburgh a few weeks ago to visit the Warhol and just check out the town - very friendly people everywhere we went - and they have free wifi all throughout downtown... it was very cool to drive around and be able to cruise the Internet as we drove - never dropped the connection. I could see going there a few times a year for the arts and I hope they feel the same way about Cleveland. Which makes me think about regionalism. I've visited the Pittsburgh area before just to go to Falling Water without going into town - do you think anyone in Pittsburgh would come to our region for anything other than what is in Cleveland or one of our other urban cores? Do we have any "regional" attractions? What are they? My #1 would be Oberlin for one of their amazing art events and to visit the Allen.

Disrupt IT

Circumvent the "players"

I agree with Tim on circumventing the short-sighted folks where ever and whenever we can do it.  I have had my own episode this week of being told that my voice has to be filtered through several bureaucratic layers to count for anything.  As far as regional attractions besides downtown go--the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and adjacent watersheds for hiking (West Creek!), antiquing, Madison's wineries,  small town Ohio ala Oberlin/Chagrin Falls, the Lake Erie/Sandusky island culture and secret and not-so secret birding spots (Crane Creek, Presque Isle, the Grand River valley) appeal to me...when I get the chance to get away.  How do we stack up according to Money magazine?

thanks for the reminder

Thanks for reminding us that Pittsburgh is a place to go to be refreshed, to get a new set of eyes and renew some enthusiasm. The same thing happened for Gloria and me when we rolled into Youngtown, that lovely, authentic downtown community relatively unravaged by urban renewal, and midway between Pittsburgh and Cleveland. The one thing that I like about going to Pittsburgh is that they have such respect for their older structures, and the city feels like a blending of the old with the new. They do very selective replacement and have some sensitivity to their heritage. Youngstown seems to be proceeding the same way; they know what is valuable. Cleveland political leadership doesn't, to be blunt, and I don't know if they're worth our expending efforts at reeducation--it's kind of like that old saying about trying to teach a pig to sing--it wastes your time and annoys the pig. I'm hoping those of us who spend most of our time in Cleveland can use Pittsburgh and Youngstown as examples and as teaching vehicles on how to do things right, perhaps to a new audience. It may be time to bypass many of our political and business leaders, because they're not leading, and this is a big, rich region, full of all kinds of new partners.

Circumnavigating the Ohio Plateau

I, too, know the frustration of leaders headed in the wrong direction; I think it is sort of more the norm than we might all like it to be. I bet all places have leader challenges, but I hear you. We can all learn.


Yesterday at the web 2.0 event, despite a stated regional bent, Gloria Ferris and I were engaged in a group who had a member say, “Youngstown is dead and someone should throw dirt on it”. Gloria volleyed with a few sentences to counter that as did others, and I suggested that if he wasn’t prone to making a visit, he might want to check it out virtually via the blogs or Hunter Morrison’s MTB video interview. (I just love it when people are so impassioned about things they don’t have one iota of knowledge about (and I’m not even talking about physical presence and experience knowledge – even research would do).) This was not a joke – the guy was dead serious driving the Cleve-centric Corvair in fifth gear. (Remember the Corvair that was unsafe at any speed?) No, he was not asking a question. In his mind, it was throw dirt on Youngstown; bury the dead and move on. There was a sort of comfortable anonymity in the proceedings yesterday, and I have to admit that I didn’t have the energy to go chasing this guy to view his name tag or ask for his business card, but I did note the hard to disguise group jaw drop when he said this. Well, no one got up to get a shovel, and we moved on in our discussion. But I wanted to tell the guy to go there, to check it out before passing such a final judgment on the area.


What I so enjoyed about being at the CSU Forum on Shrinking Cities (Youngstown was the site for all this cool planning study) was the outside-the-box innovation they discussed for reclaiming neighborhoods and remaking their city. I loved being reminded by Ed Morrison yesterday to follow up virtually on the talk given by Alvin Toffler there. I remember a really innovative theater that brought my dance company to Youngstown year after year run by a multi-talented director who could make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. The Oakland Center for the Arts is still run by Alexandra VanSuch today. Her commitment to the arts and diversity is serious but served up with cheerful, we’ll-make-it-work perseverance. These run outs in the early years of the company are among the best memories I have of my former life as a dance company director. I’d hate to see this theater covered in dirt, and it would certainly be a waste to bury the Butler Museum and YSU.


On the Pittsburgh-Cleveland connection; I have a longtime friend/colleague who lives there. He and his wife relocated there from NYC many years ago when he was chosen to head the Dance Alloy – a repertory modern dance company. I had worked with him and brought him to Cleveland many times before his move from NYC, and his move to Pittsburgh made our connection even stronger. In 2001, I walked away from my company leaving it to the board to carry forward. He was still engaged in his position at the Alloy – a role I would liken to flying several stunt kites simultaneously in gale force winds interrupted by cat naps. Though I rarely spoke with him on a “what’s up” basis, one afternoon in 2003, he called me and announced cheerily, “I quit!” And he added, “Tomorrow I am coming to Cleveland to celebrate with you, and I have our evening planned; we’re going to eat at Great Lakes Brewery and then cruise to the Beachland to see my favorite band from Denton, Texas – Brave Combo. We will polka till they close the door on us and then drive back to Pittsburgh.” Well, I knew how he felt (like a building had just been lifted off him), and I knew that he was seeking a friend who would be able to share his exquisite relief, so I said, “Well, come on then dude!” Boy did we polka. He and his partner won first place in the polka contest (XM Satellite Radio), and we all laughed until our sides split doing the Brave Combo version of the Hokey Pokey.

I have to wonder if the guy from Phoenix knows how to polka. Has he compared the ethnic eats here and in Youngstown (or Pittsburgh), yet?


Last year about this time, I traveled by bus with my son’s High School Lacrosse team to Pittsburgh for the first in a series of spring tour games. I was the only parent chaperone with two coaches and 35 boys! As we watched the final scenes of “Coach Carter”, the tour bus wound through working class neighborhood streets to find the field perched on a hillside behind an elementary school. Balls that went outside the lines on one side could be retrieved, but those that headed to the other side went over a cliff. As the play began, so did the snow. The score book was wet (I was keeping the score – it’s very complex) and the kids from the opposing team weren’t much help with the horn or the clock or helping to hear what the official might be shouting into the wind toward us, but it was an adventure. Victorious muddy boys piled back into the bus after the game and we found our hotel – not the Priory, and a buffet home-style place to feed 35 ravenous high school boys.


The thing that knitted all these experiences together again for me was reading Annie Dillard’s  book, “An American Childhood”.  It is a memoir filled with coming of age and geology, museums, backyards, city streets, rushing rivers that take you on adventures and the beaches of Lake Erie. My closer to home version is Janisse Ray’s “Ecology of a Cracker Childhood”, since I grew up in the south. Having lived here in Cleveland for 28 years, I have come to appreciate the region’s geologic diversity and its rich history, to care for its human and ecological wounds and scars. As one gentleman pointed out yesterday, we’re all part of the big water cycle; the big swirl of water that melts from the Appalachians and bubbles up from underground to feed the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. These stories of life in the hills of Western Pennsylvania and Northeastern Ohio are not so unlike the stories I might be telling had I stayed in the south, but they are distinct to this region. They have a mix of geology and geography. There we walked on white sand and red clay, here on sandy loam and silty clay. Here we have more deciduous trees; there I played in the longleaf piney woods. Water seems to be the ever present element for me.


To the man recently relocated from Arizona, discover Ohio and its regional neighbor, Pennsylvania. Relearn to appreciate the visual rhythm of trees and tree-lined streets, get to know the culture and taste the local food. It will seep in after a while, and you won’t find yourself so readily suggesting someone bury Youngstown, Ohio.