Monday, May 07, 2007

The Observer: Why does Jeffrey Like Cleveland?

Read this post from Hannah Fritzman today on her blog The View From St. Clair. Things like this are always nice to read. Much better then the usual negative blather that comes from the typical media types. Thanks for posting this Hannah.

Become a Clevelander

I'll admit it. Yesterday I was feeling down on Cleveland. It happens to the best of us. I had a week running into a lot of roadblocks and bureaucracy. I was frustrated and feeling a glass ceiling. However, as always, a bright light appeared at the end of the tunnel. For no reason, a co-worker handed me an article written by a student at CASE. She didn't know I was feeling down in the dumps, but she changed my week by handing me this article. For that reason, and with the approval of the author, I wanted to share this enlightening article with all of you. Share the wealth with friends from Cleveland and beyond.

The Observer, April 27, 2007
Volume XXXIX, Issue 26
Cleveland on Fire: Don't miss out on chance to become a Clevelander
Jeffrey Verespej, Columnist

Why do I like Cleveland? Don't ask me that question and expect a one-liner nugget to be used repeatedly. A more appropriate question would be to ask me why I like Cleveland today, for this is not a city that can be classified in one simple way – it's as straight-forward as the river that defines it.

Northeast Ohio will not slap you in the face and demand your attention as you go through the stage in life that keeps you here. When arriving, there will not be the bright lights of Broadway, a magnificently modern lakefront park, or a famous bridge to fixate your attention toward. At the same time, there will be no Clevelanders who will be rude to you as a part of their daily life, three jobs won't be necessary for a downtown flat, and when driving across town, the commute will not feel overly crowded. Then, once you have settled into the daily routine, it will be easy to sit back and let the status quo sink in. Northeast Ohio won't give you a reason to leave nor will it throw confetti at your feet on the way to the quad. You have to look harder – and when that deeper look is taken, the true Cleveland is found.

It is Cleveland where finding a taxi outside of the Warehouse District at 2 a.m. requires calling the company, but a commute across the county and through downtown in the morning will take you less than an hour. Where when walking down the street you may run into a panhandler, but you will also walk past three smiling Clevelanders who do not need to trample everyone in their way on the sidewalk. Where the most unassuming individual at Dave's Supermarket could easily be the most accomplished musician in the world, a performer with what is known internationally as the Cleveland (Orchestra is omitted). Where cultures, generations, and classes do not matter at the West Side Market, which will always provide a whirlwind experience to both residents and visitors.

Clevelanders are tough; we've had to undergo an inordinate amount of bad luck and national attention that ranges from a defaulting city, to the lifeline sports franchise being ripped away, to being named the "poorest city in America," to the iconic shot of the Cuyahoga River burning. Yet like an aged and experienced boxing champ, we know where to take our punches and how to rebound. We know what we have and it's ours – whether or not you want to take part in it is up to you.

For in Northeast Ohio, you can live. Not just make a paycheck. Not just raise a family. It is not a niche city that attracts urban hipsters, blue-collar families, or recreation snobs, but rather an all-encompassing region that gives you an honest opportunity to make a good wage, afford the house you've always wanted, and at the same time still enjoy the world-class resources developed long ago. Like the phrases that have been used to describe it, there are many ways to see Cleveland – The New American City. The Comeback City. A Plum. Mistake on the Lake. The Forest City. America's Northcoast.

You can choose to live in a multitude of locations – from standard suburbs along the lake on the West side to integrated and urban cities on the East side. From a township with acreage laws for residential properties to a town whose claim to fame is that it's at the highest altitude in Northeast Ohio. Mansions along the water. Converted warehouse lofts. Propaganda-inspired ranch homes in Parma. A live/work studio on Superior-St.Clair.

It's a land of opportunity – but not for everyone. If you're going to sullenly complain about the weather without understanding the beauty of four distinct seasons, we don't need that attitude. If you want to bash the construction down Euclid Avenue without understanding the economic importance of orange barrels and the final product, we don't need to hear it. Lastly, and most importantly, if you choose to take the status quo of comfort in Cleveland and twist that situation into a complaint, take a look in the mirror on your way out of the city. Behind you there will be a city of parks, restaurants, career growth, culture, and most importantly, people. In front of you will be a person who missed out on a chance to become a Clevelander – I sincerely feel sorry for you. Come back when you're ready to understand your surroundings and actually open your eyes to what is happening behind the door. We'll be waiting in the same corner bars and neighborhood ballparks that we have been for over a century, with a smile to welcome you home.

Verespej is a senior Political Science/Pre-Law student involved in the performing arts and is also the Executive Director for the Student Turning Point Society.

I hope you feel inspired to become a Clevelander. It's quite a place to be.