Sunday, April 28, 2013

Cincinnati vs. the upper Northwest.

I recently got to go out to the Pacific Northwest for the first time ever. The combination of newfound freedoms and an intensely good deal on a roundtrip ticket were the main motivations; the opportunity to meet up with long-time friends sealed the deal.

It was my first trip planned and executed mostly solo, which ended up being a lot of fun. Seattle in springtime is beautiful. The results of people invested in their neighborhoods and a rainy, temperate climate is flowers. Everywhere, beautiful, incredible amounts of flowers. Flowering trees, tulips, even the grass exploded with tiny white, purple and yellow blossoms. The sun came out for a bit while I was there and I got to soak the beauty of a blossoming landscape married with blue sky, water, and distant mountains.

I feel like Cincinnati is the kid brother to post-pubescent Seattle and Portland. These cities have a good 20 years on us in terms of people investing heavily in the small businesses in their community. The result is a positive swirl of tons of businesses open because people only shop there because there are amazing businesses that customers want and are in turn supported... you see what I'm saying. The infrastructure is there. The culture is there. The energy is palpable, and it's easy to get swept up with awe of so many interesting places to eat, drink, shop and try. There's art everywhere. It's beautiful. It's easy to get around.

And in 10 years, Cincy will be there, too. We're in our awkward phase - promising starts, complete with braces and figuring out what we want to be when we grow up - but imitating our elders as best we can. It's easy to look at the city with a bemused smile, hopeful with the potential of what will mature and become of us with the right training and investment. We're so close, you can taste it. (and a city being impossibly close to maturity and amazingness tastes like waffles, beer, and a sense of community)

Everything I experienced in Seattle and Portland reaffirmed my commitment to Cincinnati. By seeing what IS in other cities, I only get more and more excited as I see the starts and shoots of our community finally growing up into its own skin. In the next few years our OTR, Walnut Hills, Price Hill, Clifton will grow into the richness of Capitol Hill, Queen Anne, Fremont, Bell District.

Our progess, however, will be even better and more beautiful- Cincinnati has history, architecture, and diversity that the upper Northwest can only dream about. But the development and progress will be significantly hindered if the streetcar project gets canceled or delayed any longer. Plus, we're way nicer. Seriously. No one in Seattle says hi or acknowledges each other on the street, which really threw me off.

Why is this project STILL an issue? If we're going to dream big, if we want to get noticed - and it's clear from the development that's happened thus far that our leaders, business people, and citizens like the positive attention we're getting - we must move forward with this project. Rail is necessary for our forward motion, and we must continue. To stop it in its tracks will drag us back.

Our citizens deserve the opportunity to live without being tied to a car. We deserve the development that occurs around permanent transit. It's past time for us to step up and accept that we are growing into something great - that the naysayers are rendered irrelevant, and the only way out is up.

I am SO TIRED of having this argument. But I will step up, one last time. Monday, April 29 at City Hall. Please come at 5:30 pm to support the Cincinnati Streetcar project, and show City Council that this city deserves the progress it's capable of completing. See you there. Sign up to speak. I'll have stickers, buttons, and t-shirts for those who want to visually show they're a supporter. If you're looking for some great perspective on the project from a cool guy running for council, check here.

In the meantime, check out my pics from my trip... and be reminded of Cincinnati's potential.