My Collinwood: Vol. 5 Where the Heart Is
Every now and again an article about Cleveland is written in a National/International publication and the City goes crazy. I suppose its worthwhile to celebrate the little victories along with the big ones (to paraphrase my yoga instructors), yet I cannot help cringing when I hear fellow residents cheering the mere notion that east and west metropolises know we on the Third Coast exist.
Don’t misunderstand me, I love reading about our City just as much as I love writing about her, but I am growing weary of these articles out-sourced to non-residents. Despite their increasing frequency, these articles do little to capture the true spirit of Cleveland, and more importantly, its people.
Predictably, the author provides an all-too-brief synopsis of the City’s history, blithely noting that Cleveland was once an industrial boomtown and is now but a museum of ruin-porn. Inevitably, the next few lines serve to persuade far-flung readers that the River is no longer on fire and nowadays the Cleveland Clinic hardly ever treats a resident for black lung. However, modern problems do plague the city: population loss, the housing crisis, vacancies, political scandals, and a penchant for treating women horribly in the privacy of century-old homes, our witnesses to the great rise and fall of this City.
While these mostly-opinion pieces undoubtedly serve to educate non-Clevelanders, filling greater society in on our quiet progress, the overt message becomes “move here and you won’t be poor like your peers in New York City and Los Angeles. Why not pick up some inexpensive tickets to the game (any game!), enjoy happy hours on weekends, too, and don’t forget the bargain-basement rent prices (and you don’t even have to live in a basement!)”.
Sure, I love all these things the City offers, mostly because it affords me the opportunity to fill my calendar with a plethora of cultural and social activities on the cheap. But it truly is not the lower cost of living that became the catalyst for my 2011 move here or my decision to stay. And it certainly shouldn’t be the one-dimensional sales pitch for attracting new talent.
Yes, in Cleveland, you can have it all. We are quickly becoming a foodie’s paradise, especially if you are the type of food-connoisseur who loves craft beer and gourmet burgers and packing on winter weight. You can live steps from Lake Erie, a Metropark, or both no matter your income. You can apply for one of very many grants and make your neighborhood a better place to live, work, and play. You can pursue your passions 9 to 5 or become a weekend warrior; either way you can count on community support.
Cleveland is truly a phoenix, rising and reinventing itself everyday. While makers in this City transform vacant properties into community assets, others donate their time and energies to fellow residents who need our attention most. It’s this passion that keeps the gears turning, people moving, our reputation growing.
So if you’re living here, reaping the monetary benefits, look to a neighbor in need and share your good fortune. And if you’re looking to move here--from a far-flung city or the suburb over-challenge yourself to look past the dollar saved and you’ll find Cleveland’s true heart.
Allison is a new Collinwood resident, artist, and neighborhood cheerleader looking to spread Lake Erie lovin' all over Cleveland.