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The Only Way to Give Columbus a True Identity

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This topic contains 345 replies, has 0 voices, and was last updated by  Gil Ligg 1 year, 6 months ago.

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  • #94864

    Gil Ligg
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    It’s taken me a few months to get settled in and get a feel for this city. Now that I have, the thing I’ve noticed most about Columbus Arts and Culture is that this city is/has been searching for an identity for quite some time.

    I know my first impressions of Columbus were that it’s a cowtown. On the surface it has lost its cowtown look and there are a lot of cool things about this city, but the cowtown mentality is alive and well here. I encounter this irrational, backwards mindset on a daily basis and it’s depressing to say the least. I guess it comes with the territory of living in the bible belt.

    After living in a few cool cities with very unique, well-known identities it boggles my mind that a city with so much potential [Columbus is very similar to Austin with infrastructure but nothing alike in terms of execution] can be so mediocre in terms of supporting and building its creative community.

    If the leaders of this city are serious about giving this city a real identity, then they must do one simple thing. They must build a creativity and innovation mecca that supports/retains the top local creatives and attracts top talent from other cities. The only way to do this is to build some kind of resource center somewhat similar to the Northwest Film Forum or the San Francisco Film Society. This center must focus on supporting documentary filmmakers, entrepreneurs, artists, and computer coders that want to build things [businesses, websites, movies, art] that are innovative, socially conscious, and world-changing.

    It really is that simple. Creative people, like the kind that move to San Fran and NYC, are the only people that can make this city unique. Not the politicians, not the bureaucrats, definitely, not the Mike Browns, Michael Colemans or Guy Worleys of this world. They only know how to imitate, not innovate.

    I see that they are going to fix up the Scioto Peninsula, but unfortunately the company in charge of the redevelopment only knows how to create retail/residential wastelands that look bright and shiny and very homogenous and usually die in 5-15 years. They definitely have not shown any competence towards creating anything that gives Columbus a unique cultural identity. I would not count on them at all to understand how to create a creative mecca.

    They should have never tore down city center. They could’ve turned that into a creative/innovative haven that attracted worldwide attention. They could’ve turned a symbol of failed commercialism into a symbol of creative power. Now that would’ve been a powerful story unique to Columbus. Art could’ve been at the heart of the city, but instead it’s just a dead, boring park space soon to be surrounded by lame condos, which is a sad story.

    Come on, Columbus needs a mecca of creativity and innovation. Why can’t anyone see this?

    #521749
    buckeye54
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    I’m not going to get into all your points. I’m sure someone with a much better grasp on the art scene can attest or speak to that although I’m sure at least some have validity. One basic point of contention albeit fairly minor is that columbus and ohio for that matter are not in the bible belt.

    #521750

    No T
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    You’ve obviously not been here long enough, then. We Columbusillian’s love mediocrity and will stop at nothing to keep it that way. We only want pure capitalists to develop our city and we only want the same bland planning and design firms to place their uncreative stamps where we say it. We don’t like competitions and demand that no outside sources of creativity pass through our walls and try to offer us world class design/thoughts/places/programs/bridges/landscapes/buildings….
    So, how do we do what you’re asking? I don’t know yet but i just felt like getting that one off my chest this morning.

    #521751
    Walker Evans
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    Gil Ligg said:
    It’s taken me a few months to get settled in and get a feel for this city.

    Complaining about City Center… taking a shot at Mike Brown (do you even know what he does these days?)… sounds like you’ve lived here for much longer than a few months with this type of complaining.

    #521752
    Walker Evans
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    No T said:
    We Columbusillian’s love mediocrity and will stop at nothing to keep it that way.

    Speak for yourself. There’s plenty of people all over this city who strive to make it a better place every single day.

    Discounting their efforts is insulting at worst, oblivious at best.

    #521753
    Chris Sunami
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    I had to check the datestamp on your post to make sure you weren’t posting from 1990. Columbus circa 2012 has an identity, is known nationally as a tech, arts and food mecca, and is attracting and retaining young talent.

    Anyone who has been here less than a year is probably unable to perceive how rapidly and comprehensively things have been changing in this city over the last fifteen years.

    But thank you for what I’m sure you thought was well-meaning advice.

    #521754
    groundrules
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    whatever dude. we’re the indie arts capital.

    #521755
    Chris Sunami
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    No T said:
    You’ve obviously not been here long enough, then. We Columbusillian’s love mediocrity and will stop at nothing to keep it that way.

    I’ve yet to hear anyone make that comment as anything but an excuse for their own apathy and failures. When I was putting together the Invitational last year, I met huge number of people doing creative and innovative things in this city –including some who had moved from places like New York and San Francisco because they liked the energy in Columbus.

    #521756

    FoodFort
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    As a lifelong Columbusite – I can say our residents do have a mediocrity complex but it has improved with time. A couple things contribute to our mediocrity and not having the arts and culture scene of NYC and the west coast.

    NYC’s population is over 8 times larger and has had an arts communuity established at least 100 years earlier than Columbus.

    Austin – while smaller in population has nearby San Antonio to draw from to support it’s continued growth and arts community.

    San Francisco has is a step or two ahead of us in population and had the entire bay area to draw from.

    Another factor for Austin, San Antonio and other places – the “something else factor” – be in better weather, an ocean, easy accesss to other artsy cities, and etc.

    So, let’s ignore the mediocrity for a moment and look at what we do have:

    18 higher education institutions within our extended metro area

    A strong independent business community

    A vibrant and large GLBT community

    A growing food community that draws national attention

    A vibrant music and independent arts scene.

    Columbus Underground: Yes – CU – a unique forum to have discussions like this and promote the non mediocre things going on in the city.

    Those are a few samples that show the city is no slouch.

    What we do need as a community:

    Better public transportation

    A signature sandwich or food item. Yes. NYC has bagels, ruebens and pizza, Chicago has Italian beefs, hot dogs and pizza, San Franciso has sourdough, pizza and local foods and Austin has Tex Mex and Food Trucks.

    Columbus continues to grow in population – that indicates the city is not on a downward death spiral.

    Columbus is largely a city of transplants and immigrants – at least in the last generation. The long term residents of Columbus due to Midwestern humility and being told by new arrivals and the media that we don’t rate have always assumed we are mediocre without taking a moment to consider if that was true of not. For the Desmond Evans generation – they will find they have a sity that ranks higher on lists of coolness than our population ranking.

    CU is filled with threads about the mediocrity of the city or a segment of our many community.

    I say, our motto is: Columbus not that bad and getting better….as well as Food Truck Capital of the Midwest. That is a start.

    Now go out and start doing something to fight mediocrity like founding a musuem or creating a unique food item.

    #521757
    Walker Evans
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    Gil Ligg said:
    I guess it comes with the territory of living in the bible belt.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bible_Belt

    #521758

    geoyui
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    I’ve been here 10 years, and I felt the same my first 5 here because I kept comparing Columbus to larger cities like NYC, Chicago & SF. Over the last couple of years I found that it’s unfair to the city and people making it better to make this comparison, because Columbus is getting bigger and better every year in very meaningful ways.

    Gil Ligg said:

    They only know how to imitate, not innovate.

    I appreciate your desire for more, but are you not also imitating and not innovating by using NYC, SF, Austin as reference to your arts/creativity/innovation mecca?

    They should have never tore down city center. They could’ve turned that into a creative/innovative haven that attracted worldwide attention. They could’ve turned a symbol of failed commercialism into a symbol of creative power. Now that would’ve been a powerful story unique to Columbus. Art could’ve been at the heart of the city, but instead it’s just a dead, boring park space soon to be surrounded by lame condos, which is a sad story.

    I think the park has been a success so far. I’ve enjoyed multiple events held there and it’s draw has been quite apparent. Greenspace was much needed in the core IMO. To make the core of downtown more stable, a park helps bring young professionals and families. There is still plenty of space downtown to build what you wish, but I think the park is step one to getting people to want to live there first.

    I see that they are going to fix up the Scioto Peninsula, but unfortunately the company in charge of the redevelopment only knows how to create retail/residential wastelands that look bright and shiny and very homogenous and usually die in 5-15 years.

    I do hope they do something more with the scioto peninsula other then residential units. I worry that there is too much residential (red brick again) downtown. But there is an apparent demand, so I hope in the long term they think about how to incorporate non-residential development.

    #521759

    geoyui
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    No T said:
    We Columbusillian’s

    Columbusillians? Columbusites? Columbusines? I’ve never figured out how to refer to a citizen of Columbus.

    #521760

    ricospaz
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    Yes, it’s rust belt, not bible belt. and the rust belt doesn’t apply to Columbus really, we didn’t lose that much manufacturing.

    #521761

    lifeontwowheels
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    On the surface it has lost its cowtown look and there are a lot of cool things about this city, but the cowtown mentality is alive and well here. I encounter this irrational, backwards mindset on a daily basis and it’s depressing to say the least.

    Probably more of a reflection on you and the circles you run in.

    I have no shortage of friends and acquaintances doing incredible and innovative things around town. Hell, one of the posts on my FB feed was “misplaced my robot parts”.

    Go pop into an event at 400 W Rich; take a class at the Idea Foundry; hit up Mouton for a cocktail; One Line for coffee; Brothers Drake for mead …. could keep going but cowtown this ain’t, unless you make it one.

    #521762
    DavidF
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    Yeesh. Just deleted a long, detailed reply to the original post, then I realized I can sum it up in one sentence.

    Haters gonna hate.

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