In some ways, localism is one of its strengths: for example, the attachment of Spaniards to the folklore and festivals of their home towns is an attractive part of their culture. But exaggerated localism is becoming a weakness. In the past teachers and other public servants would move around the country. Now they stay in their own region. Some companies find it difficult to recruit managers who are prepared to work abroad.
"Localism" is also a strength and a weakness in Northeast Ohio. A good example is this piece about Cleveland's supposed misplaced Youngstown-envy:
Cleveland and Youngstown are more alike than any Clevelander is willing to admit. Both are Rust Belt cities with dying economies. Both are looking for heroes anywhere they can find them - in government, the arts, in sports. What has engendered such a worshipful response to Pavlik is not just the tangible things that he does for Youngstown - keeping his business there, staying at the same gym he grew up practicing in, drinking at the local dive bar - but also the fact that he looks like Captain Youngstown. He's the living symbol of a dead past that everyone hopes will come back. We do that here too. We like to believe Cleveland can be saved by puffing out its chest and isolating itself from the globalizing effects of capitalism, somehow saying, "We have everything we need here."
What Pavlik means to Youngstown and what the Steelers mean to Pittsburgh can be both a blessing and a curse. The critique is that this nostalgia keeps the region from moving forward. Read the comments for this blog post and you might agree that Erie, PA is plagued by the same nemisis. Cleveland has a different kind of hero in LeBron James, a global icon, but the residents would rather have their own Pavlik (or a better Browns team).
I can understand why a writer would lament the lack of love for Mr. James. On a national stage, both Pavlik and the Pittsburgh Steelers reinforce the negative stereotypes of their respective cities. The blue collar iconography represents a time long since gone.
I see Pavlik in a different light. He could be Captain Cleveburgh. People throughout the Tech Belt can claim him as their own. Pavlik is a symbol of resilience and passion, the power of home. He is also the face of America's urban frontier and the intriguing irony of Rust Belt Chic. He is a hero of localism, not parochialism.
Finding a strong sense of place is not easy to do in McWorld. Check out the neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, Youngstown and Erie. Could someone in Cleveland take pride in Youngstown's Mill Creek Park? Pavlik represents that possibility.