30 April 2008

2nd YBI building open for business

Turning Technologies heads to its new home
from the Youngstown Vindicator
"The company’s local staff has grown from 50 to 125 in the past two years as schools, universities and corporate trainers have rushed to adopt its audience response system. It allows presenters to receive real-time feedback from audience members using small response cards.

All of the new workers have been shoehorned into small offices on four separate floors of the Youngstown Business Incubator on Federal Plaza West.

The adjacent Technology Center offers a much different environment. The front and back walls are made mostly of glass, allowing plenty of natural light to spill into the offices. A glass-enclosed shaft has been built through the third floor to allow sunlight to reach into the middle of the second floor.

For Broderick, the best feature is the open-floor environment. Most of each floor is without interior walls, and the work stations have movable petitions so that workers can easily gather in teams.

“There aren’t any private offices in the building, not even for me,” Broderick said.

The design is meant to help people in the same department share ideas and work together."
Last month, the Shout Youngstown blog reviewd the design of the new building. Check out the photos here

29 April 2008

Reactions to Senator McCain's Visit

Yoments comments on the visit:
It seems that with every election cycle, we’re aggressively courted by the hopefuls, and it’s worthwhile to listen to what they have to say. It’s also easy to get caught up in all of the excitement and momentum of a presidential election.

What to me is particularly interesting about McCain’s visit is that he is here because he (or his people) sees Youngstown as a disenfranchised pocket of poverty. Youngstown has been, without question, struggling economically for some time now; however, if the hopefuls didn’t see a stop in Youngstown as worthwhile, they would’ve moved on by. Yet, we’ve been visited multiple times this election cycle. In other words…we’ve got potential.

While it’s fun to be visited by the famous folks, it’s important to remember that there are local activists who live and work daily with their beliefs in Youngstown’s potential . This month’s issue of The Sun magazine features an interview with political/spiritual writer Andrew Harvey, who speaks of radical humility and sacred activism. He speaks against “top-down” organization: “it is often authoritative and patriarchal and driven by an agenda.”

Here's the real shocker: Steel Valley Outdoors gets... political?
[E]ven though I started this blog to help promote the area, I have not been too political here. Until Now…

Retraining will not work for Youngstown- Retraining is why our population is shrinking. If you have a skill or know a trade, you will leave Youngstown and go where you are needed. We have less engineers here than either the state or national averages, even though YSU still has a major, well known engineering school pumping out the graduates. We have less College graduates than the national and state averages. We have a larger percentage of retirees. All these are symptoms. We do not have the business or industry to support college graduates. Until we do, things will not improve. Asking our young to get an education, then waving as they leave will not help us.

Promote The Right Benefits- As long as I can remember, this region has been promoted as “Halfway between Cleveland and Pittsburgh and halfway between New York and Chicago.” Great. We’re also halfway between China and China. In the global economy, and with the collapse of manufacturing, these benefits no longer matter. There’s a lot of disparagement locally about the “Service Economy” because around here “service” means restaurants. That’s not what the service economy is. It’s Banks and Insurance and Computers and the industries that support these businesses. And these businesses and these entrepreneurs don’t care where they’re located, so long as they have an educated workforce and can keep them happy. They want Arts, Culture and Leisure Activities, which we have in spades, one of our last remaining legacies of the power the mills had.

Entrepreneurship begins at home- Nobody is coming to rescue us. Not the state, not the feds, not GM or Toyota or China. We are not going to get Barge missiles, Pentagon Payroll facilities or blimp factories. The economy of the future cannot be one or two large facilities and the businesses that support them. It will be many small businesses that create a network of jobs. Offices, factories, storefronts and homes that can be enticed to do business here. And we have to do it ourselves. And to do this, we have to stop thinking of Business as “Them” and workers as “Us.” After all we’ve been through, we still have this top-to-bottom Mill mentality. That we only do what we’re told, when we’re told and it’s somebody else’s responsibility to make the decisions. This has to change. We have to help and promote those small businesses that want to support our area and do business here, whether it’s a small manufacturer, a laborer with a buyout following his dreams, or a new business idea in the incubator. This means supporting them with tax incentives and grants, good press and a positive attitude.

Regionalism begins at home- Any Organization that has “NEO” in its name is designed to do one thing: Bring state and federal pork to Cleveland and Akron. Youngstown will always be the ugly stepchild of these two bigger, more powerful siblings. Really, for all the good press Cleveland Plus is getting, does anyone think it’ll benefit us? In order to compete for these resources, we’ll have to start doing it ourselves. And that means looking for funding in ways and areas we’ve never done before. Tim Ryan understands this. Jay Williams understands this.

23 April 2008

A Little Earth Day for Ya

Two Earth Day posts to feature today. Here's photographer Jaci Clark:
In honor of Earth Day, here are some fun or not so fun facts:

* We, as Americans, make up 5% of the world's population but use 25% of the world's resources.
* Americans use over one billion plastic bottles a week.
* Plastic takes up to 500 years to decompose.
* In one year, we generate enough hazardous waste to fill the New Orleans Superdome 1,500 times over.
* In 1987, Americans generated almost enough trash to fill a 24-lane highway one foot deep from Boston to Los Angeles. Disposable diapers alone make up enough trash to fill a barge half a city block long, every six hours, every day! (Can you imagine how those numbers have changed today?)
* Each person throws away approximately four pounds of garbage every day.
* The amount of wood and paper we throw away is enough to heat 50 million homes for 20 years.
* 14 billion pounds of trash is dumped into the ocean every year.
* Computers pose an environmental threat because much of the material that makes them up is hazardous. A typical monitor contains 4-5 pounds of lead.

I'm certainly not one to say you must change your lifestyle and be green but there's gotta be at least one thing you can do. One less paper towel a day, bring your own coffee cup to work, catch a ride with a friend. One thing across the span of the world can change a lot!

And here's Jean Engle's letter to the Vindy editor, courtesy Youngstown Moxie:
[O]ur individual choices magnified a billion-fold add up to disaster for the planet. We in the post-industrial nations won’t feel the pain in our own lives for a while. If I read the papers or listen to the news, I’ll know that the Haitians are starving, right in our Caribbean back yard, in part because the price of staples like corn has skyrocketed, now that corn is going into wealthy nations’ gas tanks and not into poor nations’ bellies. I’ll know that the Arctic ice cap is melting rapidly and that the magnificent polar bear is probably doomed. But those of us in relatively privileged nations will be the last left standing, and, while the fate of the polar bear is tragic, there seems to be little we can do to prevent it. Maybe the zoos can keep them going for a while.

So is that all? Do I just shrug and walk away from it? Do I just go fill up the tank and run some errands, buy some more stuff to distract me from the pain I might feel? Maybe. Or maybe I join the millions of people who are finding ways to do things differently, in ways that sustain the environment rather than deplete it. Maybe I change my incandescent light bulbs to low-consumption compact fluorescents; maybe I put up a clothesline — the original solar dryer; maybe I turn lights off when I’m not in the room; maybe I install an on-demand water heater in my house; maybe I plant some new trees in my yard; maybe I ride my bike for short errands and carpool or take a bus to work (and vote for the WRTA levy); maybe I get involved with non-profits like Treez Please and Grow Youngstown that are working to make a difference at the local level.

Be sure to click and read more. Support your local bloggers!

21 April 2008

Exploring NEO revenue sharing

A story in the Akron Beacon-Journal discusses some possible future directions as a region:
"Mayors and community leaders in 16 Northeast Ohio counties are studying a proposal for regional planning and the sharing of new tax revenue to boost economic growth and reduce suburban sprawl.

The Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association will vote next month on whether to pursue recommendations from the Regional Economic Revenue Study, a group of elected officials, business leaders and educators who have been analyzing land use and tax sharing nationwide"
You can explore the webpage of the Northeast Ohio Regional Economic Renevue Sharing project here.

jaci's review of the stage

Some incredible photos were just posted from the latest Stage. See one woman's many steps to becoming a drag queen.
"I had a great night! BTW...the next Stage will be May 22nd at 8:00pm so if you're local, get your bootie down to the Oakland!"
More here.

16 April 2008


Looking for something to do Thursday? Head out to the English Festival:
My favorite YSU event is going on right now–the YSU English Festival. This year’s is the 30th, and while I’m not on campus today, I’m conducting workshops tomorrow and Friday. And I plan to spend much of Friday morning being a festival groupie and autograph seeker (the perks of being an insider).

Or check out the Warner Brothers exhibition at the Butler Institute of American Art:
This exhibition, curated by Steve Schneider, features original drawings, paintings and animation cels from Warner Bros. created from 1930 to 1969. At their best, Warner's "Looney Tunes" and "Merrie Melodies" starring Bugs, Daffy, Porky, Sylvester, Tweetie et al., were the zaniest and most inventive of all the movie cartoons. This exhibition chronicles Warner's animation growth and development over four decades, and features all the major characters and their unique personalities. Factual matter on the directors, artists, and other talent as well as many animation drawings, layout sketches, background paintings, and color cels are displayed in this exhibit.

And at night, be at the Oakland for The Stage for the most eclectic mix of talent in the valley. It's sure to be fodder for your Friday-morning watercooler conversations:
Dr. Ray's Sideshow of Science promises new amazing acts including the World's Tiniest Box of Blades, and the incredible writing duo Panning and Liller will be debuting their skit, "Rock n' Roll Jesus," complete with live action photos (pending we get the projector set up). Don Connors is developing something or a cult following at the Stage, and he'll be back with a few songs.

15 April 2008


Today we catch up on a variety of posts from the past few days, so buckle in.

Youngstown Renaissance covers a panel discussion with Korean journalists at City Hall:
But what was being suggested, again, was that the media was manufacturing this false working-class representation of our city, when in reality YSU's Center for Working-Class Studies went to great pains to work with the Wall Street Journal to arrange the interviews.

We as a region and as a nation won't start addressing our problems until we drop our cynicism about media misrepresentations and face our weaknesses and hard truths. I'm not suggesting we believe everything we read. But let's be realistic about the challenges we have yet to overcome rather than pretending we're all innocence and roses.

Steel Valley Outdoors plugs an upcoming Bass Tournament at Mosquito Reservoir:
On April 19, Head out to the Northern Open Anglers Association Bass Tournament at Mosquito Reservoir, 6:30 a.m.-3 p.m., State Park Ramp. Two-angler teams.

Shout Youngstown plugs Tim Ryan, though you wouldn't know it from Google:
That lack of macro-perspective and ability to anticipate and assist the future needs of a region is exactly why leadership matters.

The great tragedy of Youngstown's past Congressional leadership was its inability to prepare a region for the future. That's why we as a region are twenty years behind other regions in some matters.

Not that that awesome responsibility should lie in the hands of one person, but the burden of leadership is to take the hard steps to ensure the growth and prosperity of future generations - and not the growth and prosperity of your own wallet and ego. Very little of the personas on local talk radio seem to comprehend this fact.

And, finally, Lincoln Avenue highlights the 30th English Festival at YSU:
Our interview can’t fully convey the behind-the-scenes story of the Festival, but as a member of the English department, I see it all the time. Planning goes on all year. The committee, which includes both YSU faculty and area teachers, meets regularly to select books, identify guest speakers, organize the distribution of materials, plan the Festival schedule, recruit volunteers, and judge contests. While a dozen or so people do all the planning, another cadre of volunteers steps in during Festival week to lead discussions, staff information tables, and run workshops. It’s a time-consuming project, and the organizers commit incredible amounts of time and energy.

Why do all that work, year after year? Because the English Festival makes a difference for so many students in our community. By promoting the value of reading for pleasure as well as for study, by engaging students in creative writing and production of several kinds (essays, songs, videos, and more), and by recognizing the power of young adult literature, the English Festival helps to foster literacy and an appreciation for education among young people in our Valley. It also reminds students that reading and talking about literature can be fun. It all sounds very serious, but playing language games, debating aspects of the Festival books, and listening to visiting writers talk about their work is also a good time.

09 April 2008

Getting Serious

Some blogs like to chronicle the little quirks of life, not that there's anything wrong with that. But we know there are hard-hitting subjects out there that need to be considered. Thank goodness there are blogs with the moxie to tackle them, like Youngstown Moxie's spotlight on the 15th Anniversary of the Lucasville Prison Uprising:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio opposes capital punishment under all circumstances because it violates the Constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. It is administered arbitrarily and unfairly and fails to deter crime or improve public safety.

More often than not, the quality of a defendant's legal representation determines whether or not he or she will be sentenced to death. Most currently sitting on death row could not afford a qualified attorney.

Another determining factor is whether or not a prosecutor on a case decides to pursue capital sentencing. Unfortunately, the race of the victim often determines whether or not the prosecutor will do so.

In September 2007, the United States Supreme Court heard Baze v. Rees, a case challenging the constitutionality of lethal injection procedures used in Kentucky. As a consequence there have been no executions since the end of September and there will almost surely not be any until after the court decides the case.

08 April 2008


Yoments laments having "the conversation" with students and the point of no return:
Every semester, I have to have the it-isn’t-mathematically-possible-to-pass-this-course conversation with a student. And it usually happens during week ten or eleven of the semester when the student has gotten around to adding up his or her grades. Sometimes, the student has spent the past ten weeks skipping, texting, and making excuses for late work.

A Commonplace Book shares a story of spring:
While we were eating, Mira stopped in midbite, and with the wrinkliest of eight-year-old noses asked, “Mommy what’s in your hair?”

Jaci is relieved to find her son retains his innocence for another day:
"At McDonald's, when we were playing, there was boy who said, 'she said the "S" word and the "A" word.' " Then he says, "I know what the "S" word is but I don't know what the "A" word means?"
Me, semi-mortified: "You know what the "S" word means?!"

07 April 2008

how to get a 1936 Ford

order one from Clarencedale Cakes!

check out their latest creation.

10,000 books and counting

The First Book of the Mahoning Valley blog discusses an important milestone:
"To date, First Book- Mahoning Valley has distributed over 10,000 books to children in the Mahoning Valley.

While we would love to stop and celebrate this wonderful achievement, there are countless children in our area who still do not have their own new books at home. Having these books at home to read at their disposal increases test scores, literacy skills, and often inspires children to look forward to futures that they may not see in their immediate environments.

Help us continue to get books into the hands of the children who need them. There are several events you can participate in:"
click here to find out more about upcoming event.

plus, the group has a few items for its wishlist.

can we as a community help them?

a voice from the inside

a student from East High School writes a letter to the paper:

"As an East High student, I must say that this district is by far the most complex, yet caring, system I have been a part of.

Teachers and staff find themselves taking on parental roles due to the lack of discipline at home. Students tend to attach themselves to the authoritative figures outside their home, due to a lack of parental support. We have nearly 1,000 students attending East High School and roughly 100 parents attended the parent-teacher conferences this year.

When I moved to Youngstown in 2005, I found students who lacked basic morals, self-respect, a need to strive for their very best and some who did not want to comply with our society. I was stunned at the value placed on education and the value of life."

- - -

"Bottom line, don’t give up on them, don’t you dare give up on these students. They are the immediate future of Youngstown. Children are considered to be miniature figures of their parents or guardians, and if you do not find our students to be appealing, we have learned our values from you"
read the whole passage here.

follow the comments on federal street

The Reason blog considers if moving forward on the West Federal Street plans are the best move for the city at the present moment.

Looking at some of the comments . . .
"Substandard ideas breeds substandard cities. We can be small, but something completely different from other cities if we have planners who are bound to banality."
Read more here.

03 April 2008

Get out and get trout

Apparently it's time to get your trout on. So says the region's Premiere Outdoor Enthusiast Weblog today:
Trout fishing starts on April 12th in the western part of PA.

To find a list of stocking locations, click here.

If you're in the mood to share your political thoughts, local author Chris Barzak posted a notice about an upcoming publication:
Tin House is putting together another interesting issue for this coming fall. If you’ve got stories involving political trends, you might try them out

A relative newcomer in blogland, at least to my radar, "A Commonplace Book", muses about trashy television:
My current fixation is Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New York City. The show focuses on the lives of five very wealthy New York women, four of whom are married with children. The fifth is a reality TV veteran (from Martha Stewart’s Apprentice) and also very wealthy. I wouldn’t consider any of these women “housewives,” but the title refers more to Brie, Susan, and Gabriella, than to say, June Cleever.

As any show that focuses on the relationships between women, Real Housewives draws its drama from highlighting the differences between the women and focusing on the conflicts that arise. During those reality-tv “confessional” moments, they criticize and make fun of each other’s lives, spouses… even kids’ names aren’t off-limits. Granted, some of these moments are truly funny, like when Bethenny took a shot at Alex’s obsession with making her kids bi-cultural by insisting that the au pairs (yes, she has more than one) speak French exclusively with her children, one of whom is named Francois.

These women, despite their status (one is actually a Countess) are depicted as petty, jealous, and undermining. Their relationships seem based on class and maintaining the right contacts, but yet, they whine about not being invited to each other’s parties; they compete through their children; they compete through their marriages. And although they see themselves as supportive, these women regularly exchange thinly veiled snide comments and send gossipy text-messages about the others.

The most tantalizing post of the day goes to Phil Kidd, over at "44503 LIVE":
2008 BUDGET AND 2007 EXPENSE REVIEW. Review finished and figures finalized. To be posted May 1st with release of 2008 Summer Calendar of Events.

What does the Youngstown Kidd have in store for downtown? Inquiring minds want to know! Stay tuned, indeed...

02 April 2008

Good Humor, in multiple senses

Shout Youngstown highlights a hopeful bit of news today:
The Mahoning Valley Historical Society (MVHS) will be expanding its operations to create a new History Center downtown. The 132 year old organization recently purchased the 22,000 sq. ft. Burt Building (continuously occupied since 1935 by Ross Radio) for renovation. It was at this location that Harry Burt first produced his patented invention in the early 1920s: the “Good Humor” ice cream bar on a stick, now famous all over the world.

The History Center will include:
- permanent space for exhibits and education
- climate controlled storage and conservation facilites
- exhibition space for traveling history shows
- downtown space for community activites and group events

And if you missed out on the good humor of April 1, The Vindicator compiled a round up of some April Foolery:
John Conti, a Boardman Rotary member, said fellow members used the jokester’s day to have fun with Lou Young, a longtime club member who has since died. Young was known for his perfect Rotary attendance.

One year at the annual Maple Syrup and Pancake Festival, practical jokers including Conti placed a piece of cardboard in between cakes in Young’s pancake stack.

“He was trying to cut and trying to cut through his pancakes, and he couldn’t get through,” he said.

I think the pancake joke is alright, but the stolen car jokes seem a bit too far for me. In fact, I thought the Vindicator came up a bit short in their search for April Fool's jokes. Anybody want to top them? Post yours in the comments here. If you missed the Pavlik joke, check it here.

If you missed your New Year's resolutions, well, spring's here, so you've got another excuse to start anew, and Jaci Clark's posted a thought on how you can think positive in your personal finances.

Finally, if you're not listening to Lincoln Avenue Wednesday nights on WYSU, you're missing out on some of the most thought-provoking talk in the valley. You can catch it on podcast if you miss it live at 7:30pm. This week's topic is building global solidarity:
This week’s Lincoln Avenue interview might be a bit tough for listeners in the Mahoning Valley, because it focuses on the problems faced by Chinese workers – the very people who are doing some jobs that used to be done here. So the first thing I asked my guest, Katie Quan, is why Americans should care about the situation of Chinese workers.

The answer isn’t revolutionary, but it does matter: it’s not just about human rights but of fair economic competition and the broader interests of workers around the world. Chinese labor is cheap because it’s so exploitative. Workers are regularly not paid; have almost no rights to object to their hours (she describes how some people work 17 hours days, 7 days a week), working conditions, or treatment; and don’t have the knowledge or skills to organize to stand up for themselves. Quan argues that the American labor movement can help Chinese workers fight for better conditions and better pay, largely through outreach that brings workers together across global divides.

01 April 2008

news: 1 Apr 2008

Mahoning Valley Comm. College to Open in 2010
in the Youngstown Vindicator
"YSU took the lead on the local community college issue two years ago when its board of trustees directed the university administration to begin looking at the process and to develop an implementation plan.

However, it now appears that the Ohio Board of Regents, which oversees public higher education in the state, will be in the driver’s seat.

Fingerhut said the board of regents has received a grant from the Raymond John Wean Foundation in Warren to hire state and national experts to help devise a local community college plan for the Mahoning Valley.

It will be accomplished in collaboration with YSU, Kent, Jefferson Community College and the adult work force centers, according to the 10-year plan."

- - -

"With the development of a local community college relieving some of the pressure YSU has been under to provide remedial courses for incoming students, the university will be freed to pursue a more focused mission in the field of economic research and development, the chancellor said.

That can change the face of a city like Youngstown, he said, noting that the University of Akron has done a similar thing for the Akron community.

The state will authorize and support undergraduate and graduate programs that focus on quality and have relevance to economic rebirth, he said."
more here.