Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rust Belt Road Trip Stops in Youngstown

If you haven't heard of the Great Lakes Urban Exchange (GLUE), then you should introduce yourself to this group and its efforts. GLUE facilitates collaboration among Rust Belt cities. Something many people have noted is that one region has little to no idea what is going on in neighboring urban areas often dealing with the same problems of economic redevelopment. A good example of the kind of eye-opening projects GLUE supports is the Rust Belt Road Trip:

For the difficulties of the implementation, there are still clear successes from the vision: things like Youngstown Business Incubator, the Rust Belt Brewing Company start-up, and a changing image are enormous progress for the city. As MVOC and Defend Youngstown’s Phill Kidd puts it, “If you’re looking for traditional job opportunities, Youngstown might not be it. But if you’re young, you have an idea, and you want to make job opportunities, this is the place to be—no one can stop you here.”

I think most people not from Youngstown would be surprised what the city has to offer. I'd also guess that most expatriates don't sense the energy and possibility now coursing through downtown as a result of the vision of people such as Phil Kidd.

Thanks to Rust Wire (a must-read on a daily basis), I notice that there is another "Rust Belt Road Trip". A blogger picked up on the journey and posted some thoughts that capture the spirit of GLUE:

What else can we learn from the Rust Belt that we can also learn from this most recent recession? That planning for the status quo, in this case, constant growth- isn’t always the smartest solution. Planners and city administrators must consider worst case scenarios also. For example, a community organization seeking to make use of vacant land in Buffalo was unable to secure permits for urban farming because the city’s master plan did alot room for that sort of development. Detroit is offering up vacant lots to entrepreneurs who want to use vacant lots for growing nearly anything. Other cities like Youngstown, Ohio are planning to reduce city size by intentionally shrinking amenities and housing stock to adjust to the new realities. ...

... Cities like Detroit and Youngstown have legacies that smaller cities could never have provided without their former glory. In fact, many of these cities with manufacturing legacies now have a brighter healthier future for the children in these declining places- one noted positive aspect of decline is the noted increase in environmental quality.

In other words, cities such as Youngstown are leading the way for a better urban future.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the kind words, Jim. In the spirit of DYI Youngtown, here's a great example:

    ...restoration of a 34-acre park in the middle of a historic district that is flanked by Youngstown State University, Saint Elisabeth's Hospital, Stambaugh Auditorium, 4 churches and 1 min from downtown.

    This project was facilitated by... myself...a guy who ran around the park daily and one day stopped and said, "20 years of miniminal ivestment in a historic neighborhood that is crumbling. I'm going to fix this thing up. Who wants to join me?" Fast foward 1 year later and I'm on a flight home from D.C. after the completion of our planning process for a proposed $2.8 million dollar renovation. Only in Youngstown.