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Monday, July 20, 2009

Could it happen here?

Look. Cincinnati is not Portland. I know that. I know that streetcar supporters tend to lust after the transit system in Portland, and imagine a set of comprehensive transportation options here beyond congested highways. Others accuse us of trying to turn Cincinnati into Portland.

I'm not looking to turn Cincinnati into Portland, but I am looking to make the city more attractive, so that things like this can occur. Can you see this happening in Cincinnati? Neither can I. Not yet. Someday.

For the record, Dave Chappelle lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio. It about an hour away from here. He chose to do this in Portland. That's Portland, Oregon. The one on the Pacific Ocean, three thousand miles away from Yellow Springs. Would having a streetcar here made Chappelle come to Cincinnati? No. But it would make the city more inviting for young people with options. That creates an environment in which impromptu performances by international superstars is possible. That's all I'm sayin'.

"This has never happened in my entire career...I didn't think this many people would show up." -Dave Chappelle, speaking to the impromptu crowd of several thousand. Notice the dedicated bike lanes as he leaves.


Jeff said...

This blog is getting kind of whiney.

Jason said...

It's not whiny to point out the intangible benefits of creating a more livable urban core.

Oh, and personally, I would love for Cincinnati to turn into the Portland of the midwest, by which I mean progression transportation policies, fantastic foodie culture, and tons of delicious beer.

Jeff said...

Jason, this is the 3rd "why can't we be more like Seattle and Portland" post in 3 days.

It would be one thing if the posts were more pragmatic and policy oriented. If they pointed to lessons from Portland and Seattle's path towards creating a dynamic urban core.

But these past 3 posts have boarded on despair.

Randy Simes said...

The intent of these articles was not to be "whiny" or full or "despair," but rather point out what is going on elsewhere.

Both Portland and Seattle, in addition to many others, are peer cities that we are competing with for talent. We need to know what our competition is doing so that we can effectively manage our region in a way to be competitive. If study after study has shown that this young talent is attracted to certain areas with certain amenities, and we aren't building a city that has those things, then we're falling behind.

It's not a pleasant reality, but it is in fact reality. Cincinnati for too long has rested on its laurels and has almost been unwilling to try out big new ideas. If we plan on not being left behind by the next economic shift, like we were the last time, then I believe we need to start adapting to the changing demographics and changing demands of a new world.

Cincinnati NAMjA said...

Keep up the streetcar sentimen. It is neededtoget people talking about it in a posiive way.

Jeff said...

Maybe I was being to whiney with my whiney comment.

David Ben said...

Laser, I haven't actually talked to Randy about this specifically, but I think our goal on this blog stems from the fact that here in Cincy, it is so easy to get caught up in the Cincinnati bubble. We like our own little corner of the world, for better or for worse. While I'm not saying that we ought not like what we have, I am saying that this region's mentality needs to get out once and a while and take a stroll around the bolck, to see what the neighbors are up to.
I know that for many people, it might not be economically feasible to travel. That's where we come into play. The internet has the ability to bring the world to us. That's what we are seeking to do here, to allow Cincinnatians to imagine what life in Cincy COULD be like if we took the time to understand how other places work, learn from their successes and failures, and use a bit of our own imagination.
The fact is, this city's future is not set. Our decisions are not pre-determined. Unless we work for we want, others will succeed in making the city what they what. In many cases, their's is not a future I want to see, so I write about what is going on here and elsewhere that I do like.
Thanks for asking us to be more "pragmatic and policy oriented." Those are the posts I like writing the most because they demonstrate HOW this city can evolve into something better, not just demonstrate that something better is out there. Stay tuned, and I think you'll see that we'll deliver on your desire.

Jeff said...

Yeah, I was cranky when I wrote my comments today. I apologize for that.

I certainly think it's helpful to provide examples of cities which are successful at creating great urban environments. Portland and Seattle definitely qualify.

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