Monday, February 05, 2007

Parochial Pittsburgh

The urban experiment also-known-as-Youngstown continues to serve as a Rust Belt vanguard. Youngstown State University's Hunter Morrison describes the elusive brass ring for Northeast Ohio: Cultivating a regional identity. If I understand Dr. Morrison correctly, he advocates a voice for Greater Cleveland's satellite communities in future attempts to market the region. Missing from past campaigns is a greater appreciation of the parochial pride of places such as Youngstown.

What I am hearing is a battle over defining Northeast Ohio. Morrison suggests mapping Cleveland's connectivity to its urban hinterlands, framing the fierce individuality as an asset worth leveraging. If Northeast Ohio is anything, it is a network of distinct cities that have significant relationships with each other.

I think there is more to what Morrison says than Cleveland taking the time to massage the egos of its second tier cities. However, I'm not sure his observations might lead to a more coherent Northeast Ohio region. I would like to see the connectivity profile of each place in the area. At the very least, I suspect that Youngstown's diaspora network is different from that of Cleveland or Akron for the very same reason that the parochial outlook prevails.

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