Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I Choose Youngstown

"I Choose Youngstown!" I recently read that in some comments on a post by Vindicator Editor, Todd Franko. After some dispariging comments about the City, a few or our more vocal citizens re-iterated their reason for being here. They CHOSE it. I reference that because of other comments I was hearing last night at an event for the Positive People Group, at the B&O Station. The mandate for that group is to promote growth and purpose and happiness in our region, with a group of like minded, "Positive" people.

While Positive People Group, (PPG), is a new organization, the goals they are trying to achieve, and the obstacles they have to overcome, are as old and tired as the day is long. Can a group of positively thinking people win out over the same old, "Youngstown is Over", mentality. You hear the same old arguments creep up again and again. Downtown Youngstown is not safe. If you provide bussing to the outlying community, it will only attract people with no money in their pocket to the subarbs, and back into downtown. There is no housing downtown to keep the area alive. There is no inftrastructure or services to support housing downtown. Blah, blah, blah. The truthfulness, or lack-there-of, of those statements aside, it is what is constantly being heard on the street and in some of the media. The admirable and attainable goal by the PPG, is to turn those negative comments around to positive affirmations about the City. There are always going to be sour apples in the bushel, but a lot of positve can outweigh the negative if working together as one. I personally believe that, and am trying to do something about that. Many others in the community, and even outside the community with strong ties to the area are trying as well.

Back to my first statement. "I Choose Youngstown"!! That to me is very positive. It's an affirmation that there is something going on here that I agree with, believe in, get behind, support, or am involved in. I consider Youngstown Downtown Director Phil Kidd, to be a friend. Someone I believe in and appreciate his hard work. To be honest, reading his blog, Defend Youngstown, is one of the reasons I steered my company to come to downtown Youngstown last year. However, after listening to the negative comments, constantly being put out there, I believe we have focused on the negative for too long. "Defend Youngstown" is actually sounding negative lately. I know that is not the case, nor the intent, but to "Defend", means you are concentrating on the negative that is coming at you. Now "Choose Youngstown" is positive in it's meaning and intent. Are there problems in Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley? Absolutely! Are there a lot more things going right in Youngstown now and the Valley? Yes! So I too join the commenters above and Choose Youngstown. I hope all of our friends out there decide to Choose Youngstown as well. And Phil, maybe it's time to have a second line of t-shirts. "Choose Youngstown", it's a good choice.........Scott


Phil Kidd said...

Good post, Scott. I wouldn't disagree with you that 'defend' is a bit abrasive. However, keep in context the timing and the purpose of the launch of 'defend' - this was a time when a line needed to be drawn. It had to be definitive; it had to be bold; and there had to be no b.s. or confusion about the mission.

Many folks often ask: "What are we defending?" to which I typically respond: "That is up to you." - but to me, "defending" Youngstown was recognizing the limitations and challenges the city faces, accepting it and committing yourself to the fight for change, and aggressively finding solutions to the challenges however large or small they might be. Defense through strong, sensible, realistic, committed, unwavering, support until the fight is finished.

However, the Defend Youngstown mission - like any mission - eventually ends. Naturally, at some point, the city no longer needs defending if you are making enough progress. 'Defend’s' intention is to rally/awaken/recruit Ytown patriots to a point where support is self-sustaining. At such a point, there is no need for "defense". In the end, I hope one day to be sitting by myself on a bar stool at the Royal Oaks toward the end of my life and to hear someone utter the words: "Why did Youngstown need defending?" by a generation completely oblivious to the war we fight for them right now.

Without revealing too much, I can tell you that there is an evolution to Defend Youngstown that eventually drops the defense element. It will be launched when the time is right, however, it is important to keep in mind that we are all in the same circles of positive people who are believers in Youngstown. There is still an enormous untapped element out there where the 'defend' concept resonates strongly, just as it originally did for you and I and others. As a public official, I see it more now than I ever could have before. I also see the tremendous work we still have to do to. Therefore, "Defend" has more mission left in it. However, the fact that we are now having a discussion about whether its time to evolve the concept only speaks to the level of progress we have made. It's a hope I had when first held the sign in downtown almost 3 years ago.

Here's to the next level.


Accent Media, LLC said...

As always Phil, an eloquent, and thoughtful response and I think all of us that support you and the City understand exactly what you said. It does show the progress that has been made in those 3 short years, and the progress that is still evolving and will continue to evolve.

There is no right and wrong way to "Defend" and/or "Choose" Youngstown, it's very much as you said, whatever that step means to you on a personal level. To the people that continually tear down Youngstown and the revitalization efforts of the entire Mahoning Valley, I just ask them to spare their negative thoughts, and send us some positive ones and some actions on the progress that is happening, and will continue to happen. I choose every part of the Mahoning Valley as much as I choose Youngstown, it's a determination for us all to succeed, not wallow in what used to be.

We have not achieved the goals Phil Kidd and the resurging class of Youngstonians, but we have defined those goals more and more each day, and are making progress in each and every one of them. There is lots of work to be done, but a lot of work has gone into it already and will continue to be done. Again, I Choose Youngstown (and I still think Phil should offer a second line of tshirts, lol)