Monday, April 4, 2011

Turn Around Town

I enjoy reading stories about towns that have been able to overcome problems. It's uplifting. My interests are more about rural areas and small towns but seeing how large cities have turning around makes me more optimistic about the chances of any area overcoming its problems. Also, since rural economies require thriving urban areas, those of us interested in advancing rural areas need to be at least interested in progress in urban cores.

Time Magazine is running a series on Intelligent Cities about how cities are overcoming urban problems with technology. Last December, they ran a story about Torino, Italy's conversion from an old industrial center to a new economy center. The title was 'What Torino can Teach Cleveland.' Poor Cleveland. Always the example of industrial strength problems (such as burning rivers).

But apparently even Cleveland is getting a make-over, according to Charles Michener's story in the April Smithsonian Magazine (

Michener credits a spirit of re-invention among the populace but also cites natural assets such as a chain of parks and smart development along the waterfront. He didn't say 'placemaking' but it sounds like some good placemaking was involved.

I haven't had a chance to see Cleveland but now I'd be more inclined to consider a trip to Cleveland an opportunity instead of thinking 'what did I do wrong to have to go to Cleveland?'

(The Cleveland story is part of the My Kind of Town series in Smithsonian Magazine. The magazine invites prominent writers to describe how their towns evoke a strong sense of place. Most of the entries are famous towns (think Portland and Seattle) but a few are of more rural towns. Some are flattering portrayals, some not so flattering. It is good writing about place. To check it out, follow the My Kind of Town link from the Cleveland story.

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