Peanut Butter Knife

Thursday, March 23, 2006

7 Blunders of Cleveland: Part 1, Attitude & Indentity

As promised, this is the first in my series on the 7 Blunders of Cleveland, based on the Tribune's Chicago-based series. Not sure if I'll be posting this series every day for the next week, but I hope to have a few up each week. I've kind of grouped a lot of different ideas into 7 basic categories rather than listing every individual blunder (which could take years), so I hope this format does the idea justice.

I suppose there is some irony in starting off this series about some of the worst aspects of life in Greater Cleveland by saying that one of those aspects is the bad attitude we collectively have towards the city. But what struck me while coming up with this list of blunders were that they weren't all entirely unique to Cleveland. Other cities have had lousy school systems, poorly planned highways, a massive suburban migration, etc. but in many of those cases, the blunders were overcome or the damage mitigated by other things. Here, we have been fighting the same battles for over 20 years and I think some of that is due in part to the defeatist nature of most natives.

When LeBron James is bringing some much deserved sports attention to this town, people ask "How long until he leaves through free agency?" How many of you know suburbanites who won't set foot inside city limits?

There's been a lot of much deserved derision of the "Believe In Cleveland" campaign that's sprouting up on billboards and TV commercials as of late. Giving people an empty slogan won't turn this city around, but the very fact that someone thinks that we need to hear it still says a lot.

I want to turn now to the question of identity and how this ties in to civic attitudes. Every city has something, a claim to fame, a landmark or a culinary treat that the whole world knows them by. In Cleveland, there are several things that we could promote as our own, but instead most Clevelanders will tell you that's things are cooler elsewhere. The Rock Hall? Instead of pride, the reaction you'll get often centers around the fact the inductions are held elsewhere or that the EMP Museum in Seattle is better. Both legitimate beefs, but it does so much to reinforce our second rate status.

People gravitate towards people that exude self confidence and pride and they gravitate towards cities that do the same. As long as most Clevelanders think that this is a bad place to live, so will the rest of the country.

Forgive this long winded entry, but I promise that future installments will be shorter and snarkier.


  • At 6:12 PM, Anonymous Rolling Acres said…

    I would say that is the A-#1 problem of the area. True, the economy, sprawl, and so on and so forth are issues, but people rarely win with a negative attitude. Northeast Ohio is psyched out for no reason. Particularly with the "global" nature of things now, "hipness" is as much a state of mind as it is something tangible.

    Part 2 should be: "Manufacturing: It's gone, let it go and let's move on."


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