Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Gen X Nomads

I spent my twenties (~ the decade of the 1990s) wandering from college town to college town. I wasn't always playing student during that time. I worked through a brief blue collar romantic period and eventually realized that I enjoyed the world of ideas. My run with intellectual masturbation, best articulated in the movie "Slacker," also had a short shelf life. Late night ramblings about Michel Foucault were much more fun if I could talk about firsthand applications of theory.

Which brings me to Brewed Fresh Daily and a musing about Thinkers and Drinkers (the movable salon in need of a website). The progenitor of conversation, at least as far as Youngstown Renaissance is concerned, is an article in the New York Times about college students who stay on long after they graduate:

What's our brand? If we were listed in this article, how would we be listed? I was talking with a fellow Youngstown blogger this weekend who is getting e-mails from YSU students saying, "How can we help out downtown? We want to be here and pitch in." That's exciting! What are they seeing?

The above blog post passage reminds me of a juicy bit of reflection from the Urbanophile about (my understanding) finding your city's niche in the global economy. Forgive me for stating the obvious, but I think the Phil Kidd story is the answer to the brand question. The impression that a city can make on an outsider describes the magic of place.

To me, Youngstown is the place where Generation X Rust Belt dreams can find expression. Austin was great for cutting my teeth on philosophy, but the Yo is where I want to get my hands dirty. The density of ideas is settling in the Mahoning Valley, The Magic Mountain meeting life in the flood plain. How can a university spill over effectively into the surrounding community? I think that answer can be found in Youngstown, the oasis in a desert of Rust Belt inertia.

2 comments:

Phil Kidd said...

From a Pittsburgh native, I can attest: Bring it to Youngstown. Open for business, baby!

Phil Kidd

Tyler said...

Thanks for the link. I first came to Youngstown in 1994. It was initially a creative place for me musically, but now it's a creative place intellectually--which I think matches up with what you're expressing.

There are so many truths to be discovered and confronted: truths about race, class, poverty, history, art, community, and on and on. I continue to learn so much from my neighbors and friends and look forward to more adventures and projects as the renaissance develops.