Friday, November 15, 2013

I Believe in Cincinnati

An Open Letter to Mayor-Elect John Cranley and City Council Members:
Last night I attended the Town Hall meeting to show my support for the Cincinnati Streetcar. I went to represent a segment of people who could not vote in the prior elections yet have a vested interest in the direction our city is headed. I don't live within the city limits, but my husband and I started a business at Findlay Market in 2009 and purchased a vacant building on West Elder Street in 2010. We were excited about growth and development in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, much of it ignited by talk of the streetcar.
During the last few years, the streetcar has become a political football. Yet, I've watched as one piece of property after another has been purchased around Findlay Market. Historic buildings are being saved. New businesses are being started. The Brewery District has been reborn. Young people now come from the suburbs to socialize and dream of the day they can move Downtown. The city has become a hub for startups and entrepreneurship.
Cincinnati is on a roll, and the Town Hall meeting only confirmed the passion that so many of us feel. I was inspired by the sense of community in the room. It quickly became obvious that the streetcar is a nonpartisan issue that concerns citizens of all ages and from all neighborhoods of the Greater Cincinnati area. These citizens believe, as I do, that the streetcar is just the first step in increasing population, attracting new businesses, retaining top talent, and growing the tax base of the entire area.
Please consider the fact that many of us have voted with our dollars. We have invested in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood and Downtown Cincinnati because a plan is in place to use light rail to grow the community. Any money that you think can be saved by stopping the streetcar will be lost to the individuals like us who have invested money, hired employees, paid property and income taxes, and spent dollars within the district. Some of you think we can't afford to build the streetcar. We think we can't afford to stop.
Yours truly,
Barb Cooper
Daisy Mae's Market

Sunday, November 10, 2013

My Thoughts on November

It's November, the month when I know winter is coming and there's no stopping it. The days are suddenly shorter, the trees drop their leaves almost overnight, and the furnace cranks back into service. I start to complain, but then I notice those three special dates on the calendar: November 11, 21, and this year, 28. My mind shifts, and I imagine my dad at age 20.
It's the fall of 1944, and my dad is just a kid, younger than my own are now so everything takes on a new perspective. He's in a forest in Germany, hunkered down for a month, and in his own words, "miserable, cold, wet, muddy, and under fire." He's there because he wants to be there, fighting the enemy on foreign soil, alongside his buddies. 
I try to get a handle on the image. It's difficult to imagine my 89-year-old father celebrating his 20th birthday on November 21, 1944, in a foxhole. Thanksgiving that year, even with real turkey rather than the usual military rations, surely leaves an empty feeling without family. In another few weeks, he will be setting up mortars in someone's backyard when an incoming shell knocks him to the ground, resulting in an injured leg. I imagine an angry yet scared young man, disgusted that "they got him" and frustrated that he has to spend months transported from aid station to field hospital to a chain of military hospitals before ending up back in the States. With the war ending, his rehabilitation and service complete, my father, like so many others, resumes life in post-war America.
I pause to consider these three significant November dates. November 11, Veterans Day. We honor those who have served. Honoring World War II veterans takes on added significance as the memories fade and the survivors pass. November 21, my dad's birthday. An 89th birthday is worth celebrating as Dad continues to amaze me with his good health, sharp wit, and terrific sense of humor. November 28, Thanksgiving Day 2013.  I'm thankful for family and friends near and far, sharing good food amid lively conversation, in the land of the free and the home of the brave. 
I take it back, November. You're not too bad after all.