Friday, August 24, 2007

One Simple Meeting

The following is what I sent out after the meeting on Monday, August 6th. Probably don't need to say much else:
I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your assistance regarding the issue of the West Federal Street Plans. No matter what role you might have played, you were an important part to something that was much more than a simple protest or disagreement with a city process. You witnessed 21st Century Democracy in action, the ability to express your concerns to our public officials in multiple formats. A chance to be heard when it comes to public matters.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mayor Jay Williams and Director of Public Works Carmen Conglose for their professionalism and willingness to hear our concerns regarding this project. What they did was not easy. Opening your doors to an opposing voice can be quite challenging to say the least. They did so when they didn’t really have to. You wouldn’t have seen that a few years ago. I believe those doors will remain open much longer than 5pm on Monday, August 6th. Again, I thank them for their assistance.

I’m sure most of you caught the Vindicator headline yesterday “Tree Lovers Win.” Although it shows that our group made progress, the statement is not indicative of what truly happened. There were no opposing sides, no individual winners and losers in this matter. The City of Youngstown won, the Mahoning Valley won, we all won. No matter what comes of this endeavor in the next few weeks and months, the process is not over and Monday’s meeting was definitely not an ending of any means. What we all experienced over the last week or so was the start of something special, a positive force to be reckoned with.

A force that came together from different paths, different walks of life. A force of many. We are businessmen & women. We are educators. We are students. We are young professionals just starting a journey. We are the respected and the experienced passing on wisdom. We are architects and urban planners. We are political leaders. We are judges. We are government workers. We are artists. We are authors. We are entrepreneurs. We are community activists. We are parents. We are children. We wear blue collars. We wear white collars. We are creative. We are innovative. We are young. We are ready.

Ready to show that we are here (and want to be); ready to show that we are ONE! One voice of passion. One voice of reason. One voice of optimism. One voice of concern. One voice that believes in this community. One voice that has witnessed negativity and hardship, but will no longer rest idle by them. One voice of the future that is proud of our past. One voice that is willing to roll up our sleeves and do something about it, what ever it happens to be. One voice that is willing to put aside the minor differences that occur in society and work together towards a common goal: a community we can all be proud of.

Monday indeed was not a simple meeting. It was a launching point, one that will take all of us to new heights and the best days this Valley has ever seen!

I’m proud to be a part of this group. I’m proud to be a citizen of Youngstown., OH + the Mahoning Valley + Northeast Ohio. I’m just glad I found so many others saying the same thing.

We really do have it all. Together. Thanks for all that you do.


P.S. I usually don’t like to mention other people’s names in e-mails even when I want to thank them (I know I will ultimately forget someone). But I have to give a big “Shout” out to John Slanina for getting this group together, Phil Kidd for his Defense (and rallying the troops), to Tyler Clark, Paul Hagman, Heather McMahon, and Brooke Slanina for their efforts and insight on this project and for flooding my inbox with an abundance of useful information (see the whitepaper at, Julie Scarsella for her leadership on the Brain Gain initiative (see for a link to the report), State Representative Bob Hagan for being what I believe to be the only politician to sign the petition (yep that’s coming from me, a candidate he beat…I’m not a poor loser!!), the local media for all of their participation, and to Mike Garvey, Jim Cossler, and Hunter Morrison for all their wisdom and encouragement. It goes a long way. You certainly will hear more from this impressive group in the future. I look forward to working with them and all of you on a project soon (and now that the positive energy is out…we have a ton of work to do!!!!). Bear with me. I stare at numbers all day. Sometimes the enthusiasm gets a little bottled up.

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