Alicia Delvaux is one of my favorite bloggers, ever. She moved to Cleveland this year, but she still blogs for Valley24.com, a regional online hub for the Mahoning Valley, where I live. She recently posted a really wonderful entry about the things that have been occurring here in Youngstown in the past few years, recounting her happiness for the new hope of revitalization for this, America’s poorest city after New Orleans, and also her worries. There are lots of things to worry about, for sure. But anyway, if you’re interested in where I come from, Alicia is a good representative of the sort of people you’ll find around here, that we’re hoping won’t have to move away for work as much as we’ve grown used to doing here–thoughtful and aware and a great writer as well. Hopefully someday she’ll be able to come back to a great job that’ll let her be near her family and friends and the city she loves like she deserves.
When I was fresh out of high school and finally allowed free reign to drive around Mahoning County and the surrounding areas, I started to actually notice the toppling houses and looming, dead-ish looking factories. Everything was rusty and gritty and brown and grey. Even the skies were laced with smoke like the ceilings and corners of walls in houses with old gas stoves and wood-burners. And perhaps in some ignorant way, blind to the poverty those poor streets represented, I thought it was beautiful. In the boarded up windows and cloudy, shattered glass I saw sorrow, but still promise, and potential.