When Youngstown finds a balance in sustaining its population count, and when the unemployment rate returns closer to the national average, and when sustainable living is a local way of life, it will be because people--not governments--made it happen. That is to say that you are Youngstown's best hope, and you can not leave it to a hope that political leaders will be able to make it happen through grants and programs.
That's not to say that we won't need the help of grants and smart policies from lawmakers. But it will be the people who step up and take the reins and provide fresh ideas and energy whose names will be inscribed on the future monument of Youngstown's renaissance.
You've heard the names before, many of them profiled in Sunday's Christian Science Monitor article about how the economy is affecting the 2010 vision: Mark Peyko, Hunter Morrison, Phil Kidd, Bill D'Avignon, Sarah Lown, Father Noga... If you attended Streetscape last weekend or came to one of the cleanups that Defend Youngstown, Resettle Youngstown, TreezPlease or Snoop Block Watch held already this spring, then you're part of the solution, too. The City is working with these groups to provide materials and resources to take control of vacant properties and blight.
On the YSU campus, there are more than 13,000 students, many of whom are young and idealistic. Do you know any of them? Are you bringing them along and showing them how they can help, too? Frequently when I speak with students, they want to help and get involved, but they don't know how. You can show them.
A sentence in Sunday's article highlights the most pressing issue in the advancement of 2010: "local politics have meant that city funds are still apportioned to all neighborhoods – including the ones already deemed unsustainable."
Two questions for you:
1) How do we build the political will to make the tough decisions and address the urgent needs of the neighborhoods whose health is declining NOW and that need intervention to stabilize, rather than the neighborhoods whose problems are decades-old and whose needs, while no less real, are less affected by passing days than passing years.
2) Who else is making a difference that deserves a mention? There are so many contributors who are behind the scenes and not in the headlines.