Last night at the Stage was just the most wonderful experience. There were so many people there, so much talent and creativity and expression, and so much of it just really really good. My friend Brooke does the most amazing things for this city and I sometimes wonder if enough people actually understand it. I hope so. She’s created a space where people can gather together and feel like a strong family, supporting each other in creative endeavors of every kind: acting, music, visual art and design, literature, dancing, musicals and filmmaking. Youngstown has so much talent it makes me not sick but deliriously appreciative of being here and being a part of making this city into something good. My mom came to the Stage with me last night, and before and after the show we walked around in the downtown together. She hadn’t been there in years, and commented on how there were actually people walking the streets again, and storefronts with actual stores open inside them, and how things just felt so much different, more like what she remembered from decades ago, before the steel mills pulled up and out of here, before government officials started using the town and the people for their own personal benefit and gain rather than being responsible community officials. It’s true, too, because in my lifetime I’ve never seen Youngstown so alive and full of a hopeful wind blowing through it, I’ve never seen so many people coming together before to take the city back into their hands and make it into home again. We’d been cut off from doing that for so long because of the corruption in the government. I can’t wait to see what happens here in the coming years. There was a great video montage of moments from the past year of Stage events at the Oakland Center for the Arts shown last night, too, and I want to get it up on Youtube so other people can see it too. Youngstown’s a place with a lot of potential because it is so undefined, and I can see it as a place that people of the right spirit and inclination to create will come to because of that in the future. Artists of all sorts, after all, want a blank canvas. And this city has more than enough room to make room for new life.