Friday, May 16, 2008

Rust Belt Urbanophilia

Thanks to I Will Shout Youngstown for bringing this interview with Phil Kidd (the force behind Defend Youngstown) to my attention. I'll start with what attracted the interviewer and show host of Lincoln Avenue, Sherry Linkon, to the Phil Kidd story:

One of the things that has impressed me about Phil is his ability to turn ideas into action. I’m excited about all the thoughtful conversation that has developed out of the “thinkers and drinkers” gatherings, but I’m also always a little skeptical about the value of talk. And yet I know from my own experience how easy it is to comment on issues and how much harder it is to go out and do something. But Phil has a philosophy about how to make things happen. He believes that getting people involved means creating opportunities for them to speak and act, and those who have the resources and power to make things happen need to listen to what others want, not just forge ahead on their own. He understands, too, that community engagement is not only a good way to get things done but also a way to transform the community by building relationships and changing attitudes. He also knows how to organize a project, a skill he says he learned in the military.

Translating blog posts into economic development is something that continues to concern me. I appreciate how Mr. Kidd uses talk as a means to an end. Listening to him reflect on his various projects I can tell that he is action-oriented.

In and of itself, a blog isn't anything special. However, blogging has transformed my world and brought me into contact with a number of inspirational people such as Phil Kidd. The part of Mr. Kidd's narrative that really hit home is how a Pittsburgh native came to champion Youngstown. Is this an identifiable phenomenon? Braddock Mayor John Fetterman is from York, PA and is working to improve a part of Pittsburgh. A woman from Youngstown heads up GLUE Cleveland. Doug Heuck, editor of a magazine (Pittsburgh Quarterly) that puts the best face on Pittsburgh I could ever imagine, is from Cincinnati. And, of course, yours truly was born in Erie and leading the charge for the Burgh Diaspora.

Mega-regional brain circulation?

2 comments:

Phil Kidd said...

Thanks for the kind words, Jim. P.S. You may find it interesting that Mayor Fetterman and myself have a good relationship. As soon as I began my position with the city, I contacted the Mayor. We have vised each other's cities and have traded some very progressive ideas. I find him a great source of inspiration (as well as his Deputy Mayor Jeb). The Cleveburgh network extends...

Janko said...

I think the additional contribution of blogs is the action of framing the debate itself, much like traditional media. (the vindicator showed some movement on the ED front in Sunday's paper with a few good articles)

the cream on top is the action that can develop from a single post.

my personal goal is to have one consistent voice, growing louder and louder through more partners and more minds so that the entire Youngstown region, leadership and citizens, see the necessity of future planning coupled with action.