What Does it Feel Like When a City is Turning Around?

Cleveland resident Anne Trubek notes a change in the city's zeitgeist. Whereas decades of disinvestment once led to cheerleading, today's mood is more proactive. A sense of civic obligation reflects an exciting but anxious time in the city's history.
June 13, 2013, 2pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"These days, the zeitgeist [in Cleveland] has changed," observes Trubek, co-editor of Rust Belt Chic: The Cleveland Anthology. "If before, you were a happy but passive contrarian, enjoying the 'lifestyle' that cost-of-living, accessibility, great culture, and tight-knit neighborhoods afforded — now there is a bit more at stake. The mood in Cleveland (speaking from my white, liberal, professional vantage) is more proactive. No longer can you just sip your wine and chat about how nice it is here. The ethos has shifted to an activist one: you have to help out, pitch in, you have to do something. There is an emergent sense of civic obligation."

"Why this shift? Why this pressure to help the city’s economic, educational, political and cultural life?" she asks. "Not because things are worse but because they are better. They are 'turning around,' 'revitalizing,' whatever term you prefer."

"But we have been here before — on the cusp of something interesting and vital — and we have seen it fail. This time, we sense that the stakes are too high, the promises too promising. This time, it cannot fail. So more people, whether individually or institutionally, are helping out those who are trying new things."

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Published on Tuesday, June 11, 2013 in Next City
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