Friday, January 23, 2009

Believe? Or just Leave?

Should we? Can we afford to?

I was greeted with an unfamiliar and, quite frankly, unappreciated surprise on Monday afternoon. Retrieving the mail on the front porch, I saw a young man, obviously pained, walking (or straggling) down the sidewalk. As he approached, I was leery. He was covered in snow and not wearing a jacket; an anomaly on a 17 degree day.

With a notable limp, he came to the gate and asked if he could come inside, and that he was just 'jumped' around the corner. He seemed sincere, if not altogether trustworthy, so I acceded to his request and ushered into the warmth. He immediately went to remove his shoes on the rug so as not to traipse snow around the house, which I took to be a good sign.

I asked him to tell me more about what happened, and he stated that he had been walking to CVS when two individuals sneaked up on him from behind, put him in a headlock, punched and kicked him repeatedly, purloined his (new Columbia) coat, and took off, leaving him winded, injured, and lying in a bank of snow.

My point in posting this is not the (unfortunate) novelty of having been near-witness to a mugging, but as a frustrated homeowner wondering what the future of this city is. Katie and I have been Cleveland proponents since we rediscovered it's charms after our college adventures, and have tried to support it financially, culturally, and personally at every turn. But where does one draw the line? After our property has been vandalized? Is it after we've been robbed? Or is it only a forced trade-off for living in a(n at times) vibrant community of artists, entrepreneurs, and progressive people? Maybe it's the weather, but my pessimism grows...

In Michael Ruhlman's inspiring look at his Cleveland Heights neighborhood, House, he nostalgically opines about the City's grander days, when streetcars ferried people in suits and hats around town on streetcars, and when the Millionaires Row of mansions on Euclid Avenue was not just some ironic joke.
I suppose the real question is; 'do we now embark on an effort to rebuild a city that may be already beyond the brink, or do we, like those of Cleveland's glory days, move to a place like it once was - on the move, growing, with a plan, a purpose, and a willful population'? I think I'd like to be on the deciding end of that question, for better or worse, than waiting to have it decided for me. Because if Monday is any indication, the good guys aren't looking so good.

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