Slavic Village

On a rainy Sunday in May, Dave and I went to an event in Slavic Village called Rooms to Let. Other festivals were competing for our time that weekend including the Asian Festival and Hessler Street Fair. Since we had attended both of these several times, we decided to try something different and explore a new neighborhood at the same time.

We’d tried to learn more about this area before with a street fair advertised to start at noon to late afternoon. We arrived shortly after twelve and there was only one booth set up with bottles of water. Other people were starting to set up card tables, but little else was happening. Businesses weren’t open. There were no other visitors and just a few boys were busy zooming around on their bikes on the closed section of Fleet Ave. Our first attempt at exploring Slavic Village was not impressive.

But Rooms to Let sounded intriguing. Several abandoned houses had been turned over to groups of artists to use as large canvases for their work.

Rooms to Let in Slavic Village

Rooms to Let in Slavic Village

We registered and picked up a map at a former funeral home around the corner from St. Stanislaus. We’d toured St. Stanislaus before and it remains a favorite place in Cleveland. It is lovingly cared for by the parishioners and still remains the center of the community.  Although the neighborhood has changed racially over the past decades, Catholics still faithfully come from near and far to worship at this Shrine Church.

We followed the RIT route east on Forman and saw two venues plus one realtor who was hosting an open house on a recently rehabbed house. Houses that are still inhabited outnumbered the vacant and foreclosed houses. Some were carefully groomed and gardens were coming up. Other houses were neglected. But walking past these homes you could see that people were ready to hang on and optimistically looked forward to new investment.While the art we saw on our tour was rather unimpressive by my tastes, it did offer visitors a chance to get inside houses and see what is a typical floor plan thus giving visitors a sample of what is available.

Booths gave us ads for places to buy.  One home was offered for $89,900. It had 2000 square feet, 4 baths nad 6 bedrooms in the 3 rental units.  An ad in the Slavic Village Voice advertised a 1,994 sq ft, 4 bedroom home for $8,000. A larger 2 family home was being offered for $6,000. Obviously, this would be for home buyers and investors who are willing to put in time and money.

The biggest plus of this neighborhood is the willingness of organizations and neighbors who believe in where they live enough to stand up for their community. They can see that other neighborhoods in Cleveland are being revived and Slavic Village is only 10 minutes away from downtown.  The much debated Opportunity Corridor cuts through one corner of Slavic Village. This boulevard could be seen as separating part of the Village from the remainder or it might be viewed as an economic opportunity. If the Corridor is finished as planned, the commute from this area to University Circle would be more direct.

Young people who are being priced out of Tremont , Ohio City, or downtown condos might consider SV. Right now this neighborhood doesn’t offer the night life, restaurants, and boutiques of other places in Cleveland, but, hey, some people want quiet places to start a family or have plenty of space for their own business start up. Slavic Village is a very affordable alternative with good prospects of  being in a up and coming Cleveland neighborhood.


It's Cleveland in 2016

Eighty years. That’s how long it’s been since we had a national political convention. But in 2016 the Republicans are coming to Cleveland.

Of course, Ohio is a swing state. But most people say that is not why we got the bid. They say in the end it is a business decision. The convention needed our city to come up with $60 million and we were the ones who could do it. It was a masterfully coordinated effort to bring all the players in Cleveland and Ohio together.  But our city, county and region will have economic benefits way beyond this initial outlay. By the time the convention arrives downtown will have about 6000 rooms ready to be occupied. With the outlying suburban areas, we’ll have 11,000 rooms. We’ll attract bigger conventions and meetings for years to come.

Conventions have often been held in swing states. But that doesn’t always help the outcome of the political party. The vote in those swing states has not been changed in the last 6 elections.  So, Republicans, don’t count on Ohio to go red.

Nevertheless, lots of attention will be paid to Cleveland. Everyone who comes here says there have been big changes in just the last five years. If you are a regular reader of this blog you know about our food, our lake, our Tribe, and many other attractions we enjoy. All those will be shown on those ads during the convention.  The “Mistake on the Lake” will be banished forever and people will want to come to see what is happening here.  And we’ll have plenty of new rooms for them.

But, wait; there is a downside to the convention hoopla. Beware of what you ask for.  With all those hotel rooms, lunches, happy hours, and dinners and with all the side trips to Blossom, the Art Museum, and baseball games come some unwelcome guests.

Hello protestors, anarchists, and bomb throwers. See the broken windows, the offensive signs, and closed streets. And where is your parking spot? All that extra money will probably go to the police and justice system that will be transporting angry outsiders to Akron or other nearby jails. And will the media focus on the potholes that need $300 million to fix?

Finally, I don’t know about you, but I was so sick of the political ads in the last election  that the last thing I wanted was more of them. With the convention in town we will be further inundated with political types.

I’m thinking of tricking out the place we’re living in 2016, renting it out for big bucks, and leaving town.  Oh, and leaving the TV turned off.



Dark blue is easiest. dark orange is hardest

Dark blue is easiest. dark orange is hardest

Move to Wyoming. Or Hawaii.  According to The Upshot, as reported by Annie Lowrey in the Times Magazine and then by Alan Flippen in The New York Times, these are two states where none of the counties have below average ratings for education, median household income, unemployment rates, disability rates, life expectancy, or obesity

Cleveland (specifically Cuyahoga County) falls somewhere in the middle nationwide.  Our county has the advantage of being urban which bumps us into the middle because of education. We have suburban cities that have a lot of people with college degrees contributing to a higher median household income.

The county ranking highest in the country is Los Alamos in New Mexico. That county pumps $2.1 billion into a population of only 18,000 people through the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The average salary there is $106, 426.

At the other end of the spectrum is Clay County in eastern Kentucky. According to the rankings these folks, and the surrounding 5 counties, are far poorer, more obese, less educated, and more often unemployed.

While Lowrey and Flippen don’t draw this conclusion, it seems obvious to me. If you stay in school, you have a better chance of being employed, having  more income and thereby better access to healthy food and health care. You would be less likely to be disabled and could live longer.

So if you identify education as the core to a better life, it seems there are ways to attack this problem of inequality in regions. We’ve heard of successful ways to do this. One way: some uber rich (and maybe just plain wealthy) individuals that take on one school or one class and challenge them to stay in school and get a free ride to college. Another successful method: Pay top dollar to teachers who have a proven track record in tough schools and districts. Put them in front of kids. It works. Still more: attend to parents who need more support. Teach them how to nurture infants, read to toddlers, give their children healthy food, and how to get kids to school on time.  And: reallocate education funds, prioritize budgets to directly fund classrooms and not administrators who sit in office buildings downtown.  And: get businesses involved in their neighborhood schools. Let them tell schools what specific tools kids need to fill the jobs they have. All these methods have been proven to work.

Which one appeals to you?