Monday, November 4, 2013

Cincinnati: You can happen here

This is an encouragement - to anyone who's ever wanted to make a difference. 
You can do it here. Chase your dream. Tell us about it - we'll help you achieve it - every step of the way.

Four years ago today, I was a wide-eyed college senior experiencing her first taste of activism. Issue 9 loomed over Cincinnati's future, and I joined a group of people overflowing with passion and optimism about our city's future. We phone banked. We knocked on doors. We wrote blog posts, tweeted, and explained to anyone who would listen that Cincinnati's future depends on an interconnected transit system - that we deserve to step up as a city and start the process of rail transit in town. I met people that night who've led to some of my most lasting friendships. We ran all over town, celebrating a new Mayor, a new Council, and a victory at the polls. Two years later, we did it again.

When given the opportunity, I'll gladly talk til I'm hoarse about the reasons why Cincinnati is amazing. It goes so far beyond the chili and the ice cream, the silly rivalries and local culture. The secret to the city is this: if you're willing to roll up your sleeves, you can create amazing things here. I can't think of many other big cities where I can chat up my government leaders at the local coffee shop. I've watched friends run for office, open bars and restaurants and breweries and companies, create amazing events and experiences from not much but connections and hard work - because in Cincy, we're small enough to make a difference, but big and connected enough to help you reach your dream.

I've been pretty quiet this election season about candidates, issues and opinions. This is because I'm lucky enough to be serving as the treasurer for Cincinnatians for Progress - the issues PAC that formed to defeat the crazy rail ballot amendments four years ago. We're not allowed to publicly endorse candidates - and since my name is all over the mailers and radio ads showing up in mailboxes and airwaves informing the city about the Streetcar project, I haven't felt super comfortable posting a list.

But I will say this: tomorrow I'm voting for the people I know will continue to listen and work for the good of all my fellow Cincinnatians. Those who have worked together, who've put out big, bold plans to keep Cincy moving forward, and who aren't afraid to take stances on tough issues. Obviously, supporting the streetcar doesn't hurt. The ballot issues this year are to help out the Library and the Zoo, two of our greatest assets. (The streetcar will eventually connect these two places!) There's another one (Issue 4), designed to dismantle the city's pension system.

Voting may not seem like a big deal to some, but it's our right (AMURIKA), and our duty as informed and engaged citizens. And unlike big elections where you might feel your vote is minuscule, local election turnout is low - your vote and voice really will count here. So go ahead - find out where you vote - and please, please, go do it!