Published October 28, 2008
International News French24 "Hard Times in Swing State Ohio"
Yes, I know people out there are thinking “Typical French, they hate Americans.” C’mon, admit it, you were thinking that. I try to be less biased having lived there one summer for a college international business program and having minored in the language. I have been there a few more times since the ‘80’s and there are more wonderful experiences than negative. However, this report certainly paints a horrendous image of our city and that isn’t fair. They filmed areas and businesses that, frankly, I have never seen and don’t know where they are located. They ignore the amazing YSU campus, beautiful Mill Creek Park and any positive imagery whatsoever.
Before the suburbs of Youngstown get all high and mighty, they too are referenced in this piece and aren’t separated out as stellar. I find it interesting how many responses I read to pieces on vindy.com where citizens of the greater Youngstown area think that their suburbs aren’t considered Youngstown. I have to tell you that if you travel outside of Youngstown - Boardman, Canfield, Poland, etc. are lumped into the Youngstown identity. It’s like saying Pepper Pike or Avon Lake aren’t Cleveland. Deal with it and join the various groups that are trying to resurrect Youngstown. All the negativity does no one any good. Our internal bashing of Youngstown city schools (gosh, they are just children) or the downtown area hurts everyone.
The piece barely mentions Mayor Jay Williams and his efforts to help our town. I’m sure I’ll be reading that some of you out there don’t think he’s doing a good job. I’ve read it on other blogs. Again, he’s trying. What are you doing to help? Sitting at your computer and extolling that you don’t live in the Youngstown city limits so it’s not your problem? Again, where is that Youngstown pride and unity I grew up with? I came back last year after leaving to go to Ohio State in the ‘80’s to live here and raise my daughter. I’ve lived in New York City and saw that city resurrect crime ridden neighborhoods much worse than Youngstown. It can be done. Sure, Youngstown isn’t New York but we can pave our own way to make things better in our own right.
Call me an optimist, naïve, what have you but we need to get our collective head out of the ground and help one another. The territorial in-fighting amongst this side of town or that side of town isn’t going to do it. Depending solely upon GM Lordstown and union jobs isn’t going to cut it, either. We have let our best source of talent and education and great minds from YSU leave rather than seek out industries and businesses that can accommodate white collar jobs as well as blue collar. We have area groups like the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative, Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation, Grow Youngstown and Defend Youngstown making an effort. Our country is on the cusp of making a great change, change filled with hope and optimism. Let’s not lose this energy and enthusiasm but build upon it to make our change right here at home. Now, that is the Youngstown I grew up in and my grandparents came to in the early 1900’s.