Thursday, August 20, 2009

Why Would You Want to Move Here?

Ok, I have now officially been in Youngstown for two weeks, much of that time spent scouring my new abode (why, oh why, did I buy a house from cat owners when I'm allergic?). Despite the sore arms and knees, I have been in good spirits when I have been out and about. However, as I look to befriend each and every Y-towner I meet, from the gas station attendent to work acquantances, I seem to be having the same conversation over and over. It goes like this:

Me: Well, we just moved to town this/last week. We're pretty excited.
Them: Oh, yeah? Where did you move from?
Me: Los Angeles most recently, but we've been pretty nomadic for the last few years. We're happy to be able to settle in one place for a while.
Them: Why would you want to move here?/Why would you want to do that?/Why did you leave Los Angeles? Everyone I know wants to leave Youngstown.
Me: Actually, I'm happy to be out of LA. And my husband got a job here, so you know, you go where the job is; I was able to find a great job too. Plus the cost of living is so affordable...
Them: Who's hiring around here?
Me: Um...

Well, you get the idea. I have to say that my tone seems to go from excited, in the beginning, to reserved, somewhere in the middle, to slightly embarrased that both my husband and I have jobs here in a town where I see an awful lot of displaced workers in service professions, by the end.

I'm still so pleased at the opportunity to live here, and excited by the vibe online, but I have to say that definitely not everyone in this town is feeling it...

How can we help hope take root in people who have obviously felt beat down for so long?


  1. They have to be open to it, and many are not. I believe you have to continually live a positive example, and those who are open will begin to embrace the hope.

  2. I'm not sure if living a positive example will help anyone, really. There's not much we can do to help hope take root in people who are not reaping the benefits of any particular shift in this area's economy. It will be like this for many until the community leaders and its well-heeled members are able to create better job opportunities for those unskilled laborers as well as those educated young folks we keep losing. Until then, keep on keepin on. And if you know any well-to-do folks who could invest in creating business here, tug on their ears. That would do some material good, rather than preaching. We have lots of that; we could use something different.

  3. Welcome to the area! I love your attitude and blog and linked it on mine. The picture of your home shows off its beauty. Glad you came and I hope you'll be happy. More jobs and opportunities are needed but it takes more preaching and positivity to gain converts to our area. Preaching from new converts to the area adds a fresh voice for change. Ignore the naysayers you meet and sermonize on sister!

  4. Welcome Hillary,

    A quick way to make new friends and perhaps get help settleing in would be to check out the local service exchange community, TimeBank Mahoning Watershed,

    Best Regards,
    Tony Budak

  5. Hillary, I'm so excited that you're here. Welcome!!!

    Y'know, it may be that you're trying to connect with a bunch of people who just aren't interested in connecting. This isn't your fault and I hope it doesn't make you feel disappointed about your move.

    I grew up in the area, moved away to go to college, and recently returned to buy a house with my husband last fall after spending years in Boston and Los Angeles. Not everyone we know understands why Youngstown was the best place we could think of after all our travels out into the world beyond this valley. But it is the best place.

    We have a beautiful, affordable home. We are both self-employed, creative people, and the cost of living here allows us to have a good quality of life while we pursue creative projects. We are happier and healthier here than we have been in ages. It doesn't hurt to have my family close by, but we actually work so many hours that I don't see them much more often than I did when I lived in other states. It's a building year for our business, so that's OK. It will get better.

    Not everyone in town is walking around feeling the Youngstown renaissance, but we are out here. And many of us who love this town are working ourselves senseless (in front of computer screens, etc.), so it's hard to catch us out and about. But we're here and we hear you. Eventually, we will hit a tipping point where the area has attracted enough boosters and supporters so that there are more lovers than haters. And you are already a part of that process. Keep the faith.

    And, about those feelings. You have a job and your husband has a job. This is a good thing. Do the best work you can, stay happy, and enjoy your life here. That example will work more magic for change than anything else. Because the people who are searching for hope will see it in you and be inspired. You cannot reach the people with their eyes shut no matter how hard you try, so don't spend any energy on them. As the saying goes, "When the student is ready, the teacher appears."

    Best wishes,
    Julie Cancio Harper