It's tough to mention "Youngstown" without almost automatically adding "2010."
The two have been linked for years, and to some, it remains a rallying cry. For others, 2010 is the "oh-that-again" thing.
Regardless of your mindset, 2010 has succeeded in becoming the public movement of record, for the moment.
The Vindicator takes a cool look at 2010 starting Sunday. A team of staffers led by reporter Angie Schmitt has spent several months listening, learning and talking to leaders and citizens trying to answer "Has 2010 made a difference?"
We yearned for stories from folks beyond the likes of Mayor Williams and other leaders. While they're part of the project, we also found the citizens who will ultimately decide if 2010 is making a difference. Folks like:
Jim London, block watch captain, Volney Road resident: "It’s such a good neighborhood. The people are good. Maybe we just need a little direction and a little help.”
Betty Cratter-Royal, Lansdowne Blvd., and VP, Northeast Homeowners and Concerned Citizens Coalition:
"We need a quality food market here. Every time I go past [the old steel mills] I visualize a shopping mall.”
Pastor Abdul Harris, East Side resident, member the Difference Makers:
“It’s a war zone here. We can’t even play in the yard without people coming across ... rat-a-tat-tat.”
Perhaps in Pastor Harris' plight comes the most evidence of the need for optimism and patience. When we first talked to him two months back, the above was his measure of his neighborhood, and more importantly, 2010. He was frustrated, and you'll see that, in part, in his interviews Sunday and Monday.
But he contacted Angie last week.
With his stories nearing publication and frustration flowing in his words, Pastor Harris had a new sense of hope: His street was cleaned up of two problem drug houses. With this intervention from city police, his group is ready to take back their neighborhood and work with city leaders to make city neighborhoods safe again.
2010 changes the city's landscape daily. It changes citizens' hope. And it changed our stories right up till the last minute.
Check it out Sunday in The Vindicator. Our project continues through Wednesday. We'll also have some neat offerings online at Vindy.com. There's room for you to comment as well.