Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rip Van Hobo Awakens

So it's been a few months, I've been busy. Plus, I'm sure you found other spellbinding things to read on the interwebs. To recap the past few months: it was cold, then it rained, then it warmed up, now it's hot. Up to speed?

I felt compelled to write a little something in response to the unabating flogging that my dear city is taking in newspapers (they do indeed still have those, in some places) and in just about every other media outlet. What is it that makes people think they know anything about Cleveland just because they can crack wise on all the proverbial chestnuts this city has endured? What do they know about our neighborhoods, our traditions, our devotion? The short answer is, nothing. Nor do they care, because it's easy to put someone else down to make yourself feel better. Sticks and stones and all that...

To be honest with you, I'm tired of it. And pride or not, it's time for a re-appraisal. This has begun in earnest (one would hope) with the drastic overhaul of county government. Whether it will usher out generations of corruption in public officialdom is too early to call. But, with any luck, it will inspire a new generation of leaders whose worldviews are shaped more by renewal and reclamation than recidivism and relapse. But this is too broad in scope, and already getting boring to write about.

Here are some concrete and uninvited opinions for what I think can help Cleveland:
1. Cut your already considerable losses and tell MMPI to get the hell out of town before we sink any more taxpayer millions into the pie-in-the-sky medical mart. I still don't understand why anyone thinks this is a good idea. We pay for the whole enormous mess, then give ownership to a company out of Chicago. Then, we pay them to take care of it for us, and we give them a tax abatement. Am I missing something?

2. Take that Lakefront Plan that everyone worked so hard to put together out from under the table leg it's been propping up and PUT IT INTO ACTION! If there's one thing that could benefit our image and please ALL the people of the region, it's intelligently developing public spaces on the freaking water that (everybody now) "is our greatest asset". I've got news for you, unless you're capitalizing on it, it's not an asset, it's a waste. And if I could spend time at a beach that looked more like Huntington and less like Edgewater, I would.

3. I don't know how, but tear up some of those god-awful surface parking lots blighting downtown and put in some green spaces! Maybe a park with a pavilion and stage, maybe a place where people can rent bicycles to explore the city. I don't know, anything is better than asphalt jungle as far as the eye can see.

4. Tear down about 10% of the housing stock in the city. It's obvious we're not the same sized city we were even 10 years ago, and we've got an overabundance rundown ramshackle housing that does nothing but lower property values and incite crime.

5. Support burgeoning local gardening and farming efforts with grants, inexpensive land leases, and internships for local kids. Though the availability of fresh produce across the downtown and east side has increased of late, it should remain a focus to provide nourishing sustenance to the people. All the while instilling skills and work ethic and promoting a healthy lifestyle in the urban core.

6. Put a damn bike lane over the Innerbelt Bridge. So let me get this straight, you're going to spend half a billion dollars to replace the only main thoroughfare linking the City with the southern inner-ring suburbs and beyond, and you refuse to add a measly bike lane? Perhaps you've noted the success with which cities like Portland and Boulder have had in incorporating this green, healthy, and desirable (among potential residents) subgenre into their cities. Why on Earth would we continue to push for less interaction, less exercise, fewer options for people?

I guess I could go on and on, but there are many others who put forth many more compelling arguments than me. I just hope that for our sake, and for the future's, the right people are listening.

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