A Brief Pause for this Public Service Announcement

Alien. I love to revisit this film from time to time, to oddly enough, give me a grounded perspective when my emotions get the best of me. The original, standalone epic almost pushed me into film-making at a very young age. The pacing, the soundtrack, each shot so immaculate. The story so crisp. But really, it envelops you. From the tagline to the credits, it personifies the empathic nature that I live my life. You feel alone. You feel terrified. You feel helpless.

I wish every person could see through anthers eyes, or at the very least, be attuned to the same line of communication and be willing to listen. Every designer that doesn’t, is just making more trash for the planet so far as I am concerned, and should be ashamed of themselves. But the public, I wish nothing but the utmost tolerance in this regard.

I used to find the dialogue, sorry, political dialogue here in Cincy, cute. It was an amazing breathe of fresh air to hear people clamor on, on both sides of an argument, about their respective opinions. In person. (The Internet rants have a tendency to belabor the topic at hand, and at best, muddy an already complex issue). Whether you are pro streetcar, or anti-historic district, or on the fence with bike lanes, your opinion on the matter should serve as feedback, and, if I were to plead a case one way or the other I should either try to see/experience where you are coming from, or make you do the same.

This is called understanding. Empathy. Standing in someone else’s shoes. Very…very, few politicians get it. Let alone the general public.

Obviously, we are all entitled to opinions, and points-of-view. I have no issue with that. By all means, carry on. Please do in fact. However, if you constantly ramble on, without shutting your mouth and listening, or better yet, experiencing ANY part of even your own argument in ANY way. Then, to put it as eloquently as I can, you need to shut the fuck up.

Case in point. A local piece by a local acquaintance, ran today asking a very simple question. “Why can’t Cincinnati have a Bean?” The piece, you can read by clicking on the link right there, is innocuous enough. It’s a conversation piece really. Something oft brought up in the various arts groups or nights about town. The concept is quite simple, there is no real draw to Cincinnati. Ok. That’s harsh. Not that Millennium Park isn’t a draw for Chicago (it is), nor that The Bean or many of the other pieces in said park generate much for the city of Chi-Town (they do), but the jist is that permanent placemaking here is just, well, weak sauce.

Now, we will get to my opinion in a minute, but let’s get to the ”reason for this post” part of the topic where I get all steamy and my sentence structure breaks down. A local public servant, let’s just call him, Rusty. Rusty Choads. Well, Rusty decided to take to Facebook and take a rather interesting response to the aforementioned opinion article, basically completely taking the entirety of the text out of context, submit his own conclusions and misses the point so hilariously, he makes 50 cent throwing out the first pitch look like a strike.

Let’s be clear on this Rusty. You are a public servant. So demeaning or so much as challenging any citizen’s opinion in a social forum such as Facebook, is laughable. Especially in the context in which you did. At no point did the author insinuate that they wished Cincy was Chicago (it could take a few lessons) or that Cranley was an awful person for not letting that happen. (To be fair, he’s an awful person for running a city without an iota of a vision, and for his complete lack of empathy with anyone who lives within it. But that’s a different post)

All the article was pointing towards, was that Cincy needs a draw. That’s it. And immediately, like the diligent, hard-working, straight to numbers politico that you are, you went to budgets. Newsflash. Tourism exports account for as much as 30% of the world’s exports of commercial services and 6% of overall exports of goods and services. Globally, as an export category, tourism ranks fourth after fuels, chemicals and food. Bottom line, it generates money you tool.

If given a choice between NY, LA, Chicago, Orlando or Cincinnati, where do you think people are going to go? Ok. That’s an unfair question. Let’s level it a bit. Given the options of Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Nashville, or Cincinnati, what do you think the average American would pick? No one cares about How To Run a City 101 when determining a destination. No one cares about city data, when the thought of a glamorous day trip about town strikes them.

To this day, each and every member of council, (not trying to haul ass out of town to DC that is) still refuses to accept the difficulty of drawing anyone of sound mind and body to Cincinnati. And THAT is a problem, which will continue to hold this city back. I am no longer talking about the professionals, the smartest and brightest of career minded folk. This city can’t even command enough middle class jobs, or skilled worker positions to make it a long term viable marketplace. The core will soon out price itself, and when there are no jobs to equal that cost of living, what happens? Riots. Well, fiscal, economic riots anyways.

Tourism connects people, creates relationships, it teaches them how to live in close proximity to one another. While Cincinnati, I don’t believe, can be defined as an “in close proximity of one another” kind of town. It’s imperative that we start acting like one. It needs more destinations. If your argument is that is already has these destinations, Well, then it needs better marketing. Because I, and many others, have experienced other cities. (some would snidely call them “real cities”) where you can bark off in mere seconds the tourism draws. Philly – Love Park. South Street. The Art Museum. Ben Franklin Parkway in the summer. The waterfront. Eastern State Pen. Liberty Bell. Independence Mall. Old City. Italian Market. Rreading Terminal. City Hall. University City. John’s Roast Pork. NoLibs. The button. The clothespin. The brush. And I would bet a fair number of people NOT from Philly know more draws than people within. Marketing. It’s what’s for dinner.

Now, does having all of those things make Philly a better place to live? No. Visit, yes. But live, no, not by any means. Aristotle puts it best, “The city is built with the aim of attaining happiness.” Having things. Playful, fun, destinations, where one can create a moment, or a memory. Propose or get married. Laugh or meditate. Surrounded by the energy, spirit and creative thinking that is city living, is what the article was about Rusty Choads. And Cincinnati desperately needs less curated neighborhoods, and more, moments, to help define it.

So, yes, we all get it, running a city is haaaaard. SimCity apparently didn’t quite nail the realism you were expecting. But while in the public eye, try to at least, fake that you give a damn about what us, the citizens are asking for. Empathy. Show some. It’s a respect thing.

In the meantime, my name is Giacomo, and I approve this message.

4 comments on “A Brief Pause for this Public Service Announcement”

  1. Oh, I love this! I was quite surprised (and sort of not surprised) that Rusty Choads decided to pick on this. If someone says streetcar, he’s got to bite, I guess. And I’m not pushing for a “bean”. What I want, I think, is for people to be brave enough to imagine something beautiful.

  2. That’s going to be hard for a city that can’t even imagine itself as a city. Let alone a beautiful one.

    I have to admit that the “Cincinnati. It’s Ok.” bumper sticker I saw on my first day here has pretty much set the tone for how people here think.

  3. I think you’re right. Especially about the marketing. Frankly I think this city loves art and is swimming in it. Aside from the murals and hidden paintings, the art museum, which is nothing to bawk at, is free. We have international friendship park, findlay market, music hall, memorial hall, union terminal, washington park, freedom center, eden park, krohn conservatory, smale- which will soon be complete with a carousel, bridges that are grwat to walk across, the cincinnati room, spring grove cemetery, arnolds, shake it records… when somebody from out of town asks me what to do, I ask them what they’re in the mood for. Part of the problem with cincinnati is that we (almost) all grew up here and fail to get excited about our own treasures. And if we don’t get excited about them, how can we expect anybody else to?

  4. Cincinnati isn’t a tourism powerhouse but its still interesting to note that tourism accounts for one in 10 jobs across Greater Cincinnati and visitors spent $4.1 billion.

    I wonder how much higher that could be if politicians worked for the city instead of against it?

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