Thursday, July 15th, 2010

“James Drain” Hits Cleveland

My latest post over at New Geography is called “James Drain” Hits Cleveland. It’s a look at how the LeBron James decision to head to Miami is a reflection of what is ailing Cleveland and so many other places, especially the fixation on brain drain, and how Cleveland blew a huge opportunity to create a new evangelist for itself.

If I must say so myself, this is a pretty important piece on the topic of talent, so please read it.

For those who don’t know who Harvey Pekar is and have never heard of American Splendor, see this fantastic obituary by Anthony Bourdain: Goodbye Splendor. I’d also recommend the excellent American Splendor film.

Thanks to Jim Russell for a good deal of inspiration on this one.

6 Comments
Topics: Public Policy, Talent Attraction, Urban Culture
Cities: Cleveland

6 Responses to ““James Drain” Hits Cleveland”

  1. Quimbob says:

    I’d also recommend Pekar’s comics.

  2. John Morris says:

    Honestly, I;m pretty bummed about the Cincinnati thread being shut down. I think it was getting into some real substance.It reall helped me understand their exact situation and history better.

    Is no negative word to be heard unless it’s about Cleveland although I do agree with your take on it.

  3. George Mattei says:

    Great posting. I totally agree. This is a problem in most Ohio cities and the state in general. We need to stop being upset everytime someone leaves and start working towards making this a better place.

  4. John says:

    “Nobody picks a city to live in by entering reams to statistics into a sixteen tab spreadsheet. They’re more likely to move to be near family, friends, or places they know. That knowledge comes from first hand experience – and trusted recommendations.”

    I think you’re generally right about this. Nearly every time I visit a new city I think, “Yeah, I could live here.” That’s because almost every city has assets and I’m likely to see the best of them when I’m on vacation. That gives me a positive, if not somewhat skewed, perception of places.

    Like me, I think other people also view a place more positively after visiting. I experienced this when I traveled to Cleveland for business with a couple of co-workers and showed them around downtown. They were pleasantly surprised by places like E. 4th Street, W. 6th Street, the Arcade, Tower City, etc…

    So your article gave me an idea. If enough people visit Cleveland (or any other place), and then go home and talk about what a good time they had, then the perception of that place could slowly change. Maybe getting more people to visit should be a strategy for a city to change its image. Maybe Cleveland should be giving away free flights on Continental, or a night in a downtown hotel room, or tickets to sporting and cultural events?

  5. John, there’s something to that. But the experience most people have as a tourist in a city often doesn’t reflect its true best qualities. Too much time gets spent in special sanitized downtown districts that may impress at some level, but don’t let you see the real face like Bourdain was talking about. I think you need the right tour guide, in other words.

  6. John Morris says:

    Any other cities copy New York’s Big Apple Greeter program?

    Even more weird is the number of cities that actively work to stop people from hyping their cities or make it really hard.

    Pittsburgh, for example has a Cultural Trust that works to make spaces available for art exhibits in unused Downtown Spaces. Awesome! But, it also has no photography policies for most of these shows. It also does a losy job of documenting them online. For all effective purposes these shows are only seen out of town when someone breaks these rules, even though the vast majority of coverage is almost always positive.

    In fact, almost all major Pittsburgh Art institutions from The Carnegie, To The Warhol, To The Pittsburgh Center For The Arts have no photo policies. I have press passes to some, but honestly the whole vibe makes it not worth covering most stuff.

    There are some very creepy control issues at work here.

The Urban State of Mind: Meditations on the City is the first Urbanophile e-book, featuring provocative essays on the key issues facing our cities, including innovation, talent attraction and brain drain, global soft power, sustainability, economic development, and localism. Included are 28 carefully curated essays out of nearly 1,200 posts in the first seven years of the Urbanophile, plus 9 original pieces. It's great for anyone who cares about our cities.

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