Powerful conversations and an essay by Melissa Ballard

A nuclear power plant near home

My mom wasn’t a hippie, though she lived on Hessler Road as a college student–a Cleveland street where hippie power still reigns. Late 60s, with my bearded dad at the wheel of their VW bug, they looked the hippie part, anyway. Enough to be stopped by a police officer, as they traveled country roads to my mom’s parents’ house in upstate New York. The checkpoint was in a little place called Woodstock. The officer tapped on the driver’s-side window. “Going to the music festival?”

“What music festival?”

Alas. My lovely parents weren’t hippies, but they weren’t content to become carbon copies of their parents, either. Starting fresh, newly-married, they moved to the country, where they would raise a few ducks, some chickens, a goat named Esmeralda, and eventually us human kids. What veggies she couldn’t grow in her lush garden, my mom got from the natural food co-op she helped to run. We had a local honey man and a pumpkin man. None of this struck us kids as any kind of resistance against the powers of 80s consumerism powered by…well, power.

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Re-post from Belt Magazine and musings from a would-be do-er.


By Frank Bures Photo by Garrett MacLean When Richard Florida’s new book came out earlier this year, I saw some of the reviews and was intrigued. It was called The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class — and What We Can Do About It. I…

via Richard Florida Can’t Let Go Of His Creative Class Theory. His Reputation Depends On It. — Belt Magazine

Rust Belt Girl here with regret that I can’t devote more time to a proper post. However, this article from Belt Mag got me thinking…and regretting.

I regret that I’m not more of a real do-er, a maker of things–vital things. I’m the daughter of a (retired) draftsman, whose structural engineering projects studded (or, rather, supported) the built Cleveland landscape of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Buildings didn’t fall down around us like so many toppled snowmen–because of my dad. My brother is an accomplished marine engineer who designs hulking I-don’t-know-whats–ferries, yes, ferries, among other projects necessary for human progress. My (oh so young) sister works at the same engineering firm, and while she doesn’t design and build, herself, she knows the field, trods the landscape in steel-toed boots, and has mastered the language. That girl can talk “longshoreman” with the best of them.

I talk about…mostly…talk. I am a member of the Creative Class (or creative class).

I am a purveyor–sometimes even a perverter–of words. Marketing and communications work doesn’t feel so much like doing, perhaps because I enjoy it. But it’s also far removed from the making of things–like buildings or boats. I conduct a lot of interviews for my job; I learn about students inventing new kinds of batteries and solar cells–the technology of tomorrow–and I compile the ideas, synthesize, organize. And, yes, sometimes I create…a line or phrase or word that feels new.

But mostly, I work in an infrastructure of words that relies on a real infrastructure–of made things.

So, New Year’s resolution time: my work won’t change, and I don’t have engineering chops. But, I can do more than report. This year I do more do-ing–at least on my own time.

I start with my village, which sits on a river and creeks that are being choked by some invasive species I can’t name (because I haven’t conducted that interview yet). This spring, I will don boots and tromp in the muck. I will test the murky water. I will pick up trash.

Yes, creating is important. But, I think it’s clear the creative class can’t solve all our cities’ problems. I will still write, building worlds from my mind and the doings of others. But I will do, too.

How about you? (Dr. Seuss rhyming moment, sorry!) 

Have a resolution to share?




What our hometown’s brand says about us and a re-post from Belt Magazine

Cuyahoga River on fire, 1969. (Image courtesy of imgarcade.com.)

If there’s a city that is the butt of more jokes than Cleveland, I don’t know it. From burning waters (yep, that really happened–a long time ago) to crash-and-burn sports teams, my native city could use a re-brand. Or, so say the branders.

In this digital age, when we worry about our personal brand–imagine our grandparents pausing to consider what message they were sending with a profile pic?!–cities and states are also fighting to be presented in the best light.

Branding is such a big deal that Ohio’s Governor Kasich proclaimed that “Rust Belt” sends the wrong message; he likes “Tech Belt” for Ohio. So far that moniker hasn’t stuck.

My native place is rusty; its past is a bit sullied. Cleveland’s the opposite of slick: a brander’s nightmare. But we’ve been through the wringer (time and again) and come out tougher. Remember the “Cleveland: You Gotta Be Tough” t-shirts? The fact that native Clevelanders can wear defeat as a badge of pride, and laugh off the past while striving for a shinier future–that’s what makes me proud of my hometown.

Would you re-brand your hometown? Give it a catchy slogan? What would it be?

From “The Mistake On The Lake” To “Defend Together”: The Long (And Amusing) History Of Trying To Rebrand Cleveland — Belt Magazine | Dispatches From The Rust Belt

As the Cleveland Indians prepare for a postseason run as defending American League champions, fans are showing their support by purchasing T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan “Defend Together.”

Who needs branding when you’ve got this guy? (Image from Beltmag.com.)

Sharing: from Belt Magazine

The following is an excerpt from The Cleveland Neighborhood Guidebook. By Sally Martin I have a confession to make. I live in South Euclid and think it’s pretty freaking awesome. This The post When Your Neighborhood Just Can’t Get No Respect appeared first on Belt Magazine | Dispatches From The Rust Belt.

via When Your Neighborhood Just Can’t Get No Respect — Belt Magazine | Dispatches From The Rust Belt

How about your neighborhood?

Have a great Sunday!