We are very proud of our Vice President’s (Bob McGovern) contribution to “Car Bombs To Cookie Tables: The Youngstown Anthology” edited by Jacqueline Marino & Will Miller. This is a book about Youngstown experiences, told by the people who lived them and includes 45 contributors spanning seven decades in age. Below you’ll find Bob’s contribution, followed by information on purchasing the book and launch events that start 5/29/15
Where You’re From – By Bob McGovern
“This place sucks,” said the voice in the back of the room.
The economics professor looked at the student and asked, “Are you from here?”
The student nodded.
The professor responded, “You know, I’m not from here, and I really don’t understand why people would say that! Why don’t you just leave?”
I don’t remember how the student responded to the clearly rhetorical question, but that’s honestly beside the point. That single exchange in a classroom at Youngstown State University’s DeBartolo Hall has stuck with me for almost a decade. I never thought this place sucked. It was my place; it was all I knew. But sometimes it takes an outside perspective to remind us what we truly have. If all you’ve known is living in one place, that’s one thing. But to have someone who chose to come there say how great it is—that is something entirely different.
Often it’s a yearning for the past that causes us to lose sight of the present. For those of my generation, this nostalgia is for a time we never witnessed ourselves, but rather heard about from our parents or grandparents, very much romanticized and unencumbered by the more problematic parts of that past. Old photographs and postcards only show the positive parts of the story, just like a year-in-review slideshow on social media today. Not only is it a past that isn’t coming back, it’s a past that never quite existed—at least not completely.
The city is beyond recovering today; it’s beginning to strive. At this point, I could give lists of reasons things are great now, reasons to move here, reasons to come back. I could list scores of restaurants, bars, and other businesses that have opened in the past decade. I could even list other lists that Youngstown has appeared in, both good and bad.
But I won’t do that, because this isn’t fundamentally about Youngstown. This is about where you’re from.
The story from my economics class could have happened at any university or college in any town in any country. The student could have said “this place sucks” or “I’m stuck here” about anywhere. And I once heard someone complain that “there’s nothing to do” in Los Angeles. The quaint postcards, photographs, and newspaper clippings can be found about any town.
But when it’s your town—whether where you’re from or where you’ve landed—feel free to defend it. And not because of its past or in spite of it. Even if you truly believe the best days are behind, do your part to ensure they lie ahead.
If you’re interested reading more, the book is available for purchase here: http://beltmag.com/youngstown-anthology
Join us this Friday for our 2nd Launch Event: