Like most early twenty-somethings, the urge to flee the nest increasingly starts to set in. Once you've been working a job for awhile, saving up your own money, you start to fantasize about what it's like to buy a couch, have your own remote controls, and the splendid beauty of a refrigerator just for you. Also, stuff like having to tiptoe in late at night just isn't fun anymore. I never had a tree or rose trellis to climb up into my room (not that I ever snuck out - I really never did), so you had to hoof it past Mom's Lair on the squeaky floorboards. Though I was quite adept at the Stealth Parking game, it's much better to be able to come and go as you please.
Now, I lived in Warren for 24 years up until that point. I had many, many fun memories of growing up there. I will always be proud to be a Raider (sorry, Panthers). But part of growing up sometimes includes a touch of the wanderlust, the urge to see new things, make new friends. For me, that meant wandering roughly 20 minutes away to Youngstown, where I was closer to my then-job, college and haunts. I set up housekeeping, had remotes galore, and experienced the joy of an unpilfered refrigerator (and the not-so-joys of cleaning it).
After I moved, Youngstown became my home. I was excited by all the revitalization that was going on in the city, and how young people were involved in making changes, big and small. The whole Defend Youngstown movement was just beginning, and there were many new groups, people and causes to get involved with. Almost eight years later, a lot has been accomplished, and there's still much more left to do. It was great to be part of it, and to see the city I lived in evolve.
When I started working in Warren again, my parents had moved to Mecca, and I hadn't really been in the city for awhile. I didn't remember where anything was. I got lost going to the bank, the store. It took me a few weeks / months / years to get my bearings. After a few years working at the paper, I began to notice some of the same seeds of evolution growing in my hometown that had been flourishing in my new town. People were trying to change things. It was especially refreshing to see young people getting involved. After I graduated and all my friends moved away, it seemed like all the people my age had left town. It was good to know there were still bright and motivated individuals left to take up the torch.
Like Youngstown, for many years Warren had stagnated. Not much went on or changed in the city. It was the same-ol' same-ol'. But in a few short years, so much has happened. Music has returned to the city with the River Rock at the Amp concerts. Art adorns downtown in murals and galleries. I can go downtown or to a show and not just see people who went to high school with my parents. Our paper is filled with announcements for meetings of new groups, benefits to get projects going, and other events meant to further sow the seeds of change. I got to see Dave Freakin' Grohl (who was born at Trumbull Memorial, just like yours truly) perform mere blocks from where I grew up. For free.
People around here care again. Like Youngstown, after it became evident that you can't hitch your dreams to a factory, then the real work can begin. The same-ol' is history. Out with the old, blighted, dilapidated houses, and in with the gardens (courtesy of the new group, Gregg's Gardens, which aims to plant flowers and cultivate lots in honor of its late friend). Instead of just hoping to get a factory gig, Harding graduates can instead find opportunities in the new businesses opening up in town. The Wean Foundation and the MVOC look to achieve the same things in Warren as they have in other cities. The next few months look to be busy ones for Warren.
For a long time, I was cynical about my hometown. I wondered why things weren't changing, and when someone would DO something. Now I see that not only ARE people doing something, but that I should have been supporting them from the beginning. Good luck to all you believers.