Faith is the key to transforming our region.  But the kind of faith I’m talking about doesn’t require a spiritual belief, although that probably helps.  I’m talking about an unrelenting faith in an imagined collective future -- a future that is vibrant and looks a good deal like what we’d like it to look like.

I attended the first two of five events presented by the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium aimed at bringing together young professionals to share ideas about how to positively transform the region. What I was most struck with was the winning sense of conviction many of the attendees had about the their ideas and their ability to see them to fruition. There was an infectious spirit that gave me far greater confidence in our region’s ability to reimagine itself and drive that vision forward.  

As a recent transplant, I’m sometimes aware of a sense of hopelessness that underlies even the superficially optimistic outlook of many older Northeast Ohioans -- a deep skepticism about ever overcoming the pervasive poverty in certain neighborhoods, or redeveloping fallen neighborhoods and replacing rustbelt remnants with vibrant new industries.  But the young professionals who gathered at these first two events evinced not even of whiff of that poisonous tendency. They saw the future as bright and were busy steering in that direction without hesitation, fear or doubt.  

To my mind, that is why the Vibrant Northeast Ohio initiative is such a smart strategy to bring about regional cooperation and planning. Young professionals are best suited to lead the charge and inspire forward thinking citizens of all ages to muster their faith and make some of the transformative and sometimes scary choices that must be made to move boldly forward.

For anyone who is interested, young or otherwise, I’d highly recommend attending one of the upcoming events. (Lorain County on May 1, Stark County on May 9 and Greater Cleveland on May 16th.)  Come and bring your ideas and a friend, or if you can’t make it, get on their site, and see how you can get involved.

The organization’s goal is to encourage long-range regional planning, with a focus on housing, transportation and environmental issues.  The more thoughtful citizens who contribute their views and publicly support the effort, the greater likelihood that the faith of our YPs will pay off.

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Copyright © 2012 Daryl Rowland; available under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License.

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