Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Voices Carry

(If this keeps up, I will run out of bad 80's alt-pop songs to use as post titles)

Yesterday was huge for the Akron Pages. Over 100 hits and over 200 page views, more than doubling previous highs in both categories. All thanks to links here, here, here and here to my Voices and Choices post. Thanks much to everyone who linked, clicked, read and commented.

Of the comments to my post and the comments in the posts on other blogs, I think Tim at Democracy Guy has the best take:

What Voices & Choices is doing is admirable, but as Pho must have felt, it is without any real direction. Passing by the V&C booth at Ingenuity Festival in Cleveland this summer, I noticed it was staffed by some former Kerry/Edwards 2004 staff. Not surprising, since V&C is a political exercise, but it is one with no obvious political outlet.
Yeah, that's about it. The general negativity of the posts elsewhere may detract from what I thought was a balanced post that covered both positive and negative aspects of the event. I in fact had a darned good time. I met interesting people, had some good discussions, saw an oil painting go up from start to finish. I even liked the rappers, kind of. I also reiterate that the participants did an pretty good job (as evaluated on the basis of my agreeement with it) of identifying the problems facing NEO.

Part of me wanted to blog it with the enthusiasm and optimism the organizers have voiced. But it felt hollow in the end, primarily for the reasons I gave in the first post, and for the reason that Tim pinpoints.

Well, the effort moves on. The BJ outlines the next steps V&C is planning: online forums, "leadership workshops," and another town hall next year.

But elsewhere, the BJ gives some more troubling news for the effort. First, they editorialize about the declining support for the school levy -- the other side of 900 people in the JAR agreeing that education is the #1 priority. They also note that Ohio has moved up to #4 in Site Selection Magazine's business climate rankings, without a commensurate resurgence in job growth. If the site selection bible can't locate the reason for the disconnect, what chances for Voices?

I will try to end this on a positive note. First, engagement is always better than disengagement. Second, bringing people in the region together to talk about commonalities at least raises the possibility of some coordinated advocacy in Columbus, vital in a political climate where the rest of the state (though its legislators) seems determined to undermine the state's most extensive Democratic redoubt. To that end, I'm working on a comprehensive post with my suggestions about region-wide education advocacy to be posted this evening.

Finally, there was some value for me in being reminded why this is a great place to live. As sad as the perennial "Cleveland doesn't suck! No really!!!" ad campaigns can be, I can't deny that they at least scrape off a layer of two of my negativity. I'm not sure that the value of the great-things-about-NEO exercise was worth an entire Saturday, but it had worth.