Incredible Youngstown: Top Five

Remember yesterday’s Intangibles post on the Virtual Magpie blog? Well, I couldn’t just overlook the rest of Brooke’s comments! So here you go: Brooke’s top five most incredible things happening in Youngstown. I was a shrew to only give her five slots, but I had to start somewhere… ;}

The Energy

I think that the most incredible thing happening in Youngstown is intangible: the energy. The amount of excitement and opportunity, and that swell of feeling that envelops everything as people start to realize what opportunity really looks like. It’s the acknowledgment that there is so much we can do and nothing holding us back (or at least, nothing that we cannot change in order to get what we want).

Link (Virtual Magpie).

The Oakland Center for the Arts

Another thing that Brooke talked about being super excited about—and justifiably biased for—is the Oakland Center for the Arts downtown. This is a case, she said, of a Youngstown-based non-profit with a lot of years behind it still putting up a fight, changing to keep up with the times, pushing to offer more to the community.

[...] When every other theater has a 5-show season, we push for 7. We choose contemporary shows. We look for offerings that reflect real people and have a strong connection to issues that genuinely concern this area. At the same time, we’re learning to grow our off-stage opportunities as well, like our art gallery and open mic nights.

In all of this, the thing I can’t stop thinking about is the open mic night. It sounds like far too much fun—just look at the variety of acts they’ve hosted: drag queens, drag kings (stop my heart), Broadway belters, local bands, solo acts, spoken word artists, comedians, tap dancers, painters, even film trailer debuts. I haven’t been able to tell exactly when the next might be, possibly because the most recent was so recent, but wow. It actually makes me want to coordinate my next Youngstown visit based on their schedule!

She also mentioned that the Oakland is starting to do more outreach with other non-profit and creative groups, like First Book (I can only assume she means this, and Tyler Clark talks about First Book Mahoning Valley here) and the YSU Poetry Center, which looks awesome.

(Update: Ah-ha! The next open-mic—they call it The Stage, which I think is such a great name, is Sunday, October 28th (“Stage Fright!”), a Halloween edition—hee! Brooke has a post about it here. Dude.)

The Youngstown Arts Scene

I’m in Austin now, but even I’m excited about Youngstown’s art scene. There seems to be a lot of conversation from all corners about pushing the creative edge in the Youngstown area to get the right juices flowing, and that’s so exciting—hell, that’s one of the big reasons I moved, to get access to a city with that creative edge. If Youngstown starts moving in that direction (and from close accounts, it seems it may already have begun) it would bring a very particular kind of awesome energy to community efforts. James Seckler had me start reading Richard Florida’s The Rise of the Creative Class, and it’s providing some really interesting arguments for the role of creativity in economic prosperity. Not to mention, I’d love to visit family for Christmas and have an exciting arts scene to explore! The value is there—the opportunity is ours to nourish it, help it become amazing. Brooke also mentioned that the new Mahoning County Convention & Visitor’s Bureau is targeting area arts, and I love the sound of that.

Youngstown Weekends

I love that I cannot book an event at the Oakland without triple checking to see what else is happening…

Brooke pointed me to’s FABULOUS Events section. Give this thing a try—it looks really nicely put together (and it has an option that lets you support local bands).

New Businesses in Youngstown.

New businesses. Man, don’t get me started. I wonder if the businesses in Youngstown realize what an incredible opportunity is being handed to them. Brooke mentioned Ohio Vintage—owned by Aspasia Lyras, who did the costuming for a ton of my high school productions at Ursuline, eek!—and how exciting it is to see the business grow, and network, and build community. My list of things to see and people to visit is getting so long! And businesses are popping up like that—all over the Mahoning Valley. (Also: Aaaah! Vintage clothes! Glee!)

Dude!! Aren’t you excited just reading about it?? I’m very grateful to Brooke for getting back to me, because her answers really got my brain turning. She also suggested that I contact a few other prolific Youngstown minds—I rather think I will. Anyone want to volunteer? ;}

1 Response to “Incredible Youngstown: Top Five”

  1. Lou @ 12:30 pm on October 13th, 2007

    My Wife and I were at The Stage at Oakland Center and had a blast. They really had a nice program laid out and we are planning on going back as soon as possible.

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