A few days ago, City Beat's Larry Gross announced that he's moved back to Cincinnati, taking up residence in an undisclosed location in Westwood. First, welcome back, Larry! Second, the post caused me to ponder one of Cincinnati's best--and sometimes its worst--feature.
Cincinnati is, more than anything else, a city of neighborhoods. No doubt this blog focuses too much on Downtown and Over-the-Rhine. That's to be expected: three of us (Julie, Griff, and I) live downtown or in OTR, and the fourth works downtown (I've no idea where Jack lives--perhaps up in Indian Hill down the street from Stan C.? :-) ). But Cincinnati has dozens of terrific neighborhoods. In all of these neighborhoods, many residents identify strongly with their neighborhood. It tends to create a real sense of community and feeling of familiarity. Years after "natives" have moved from their neighborhood, they can return to have conversations with people who have gone to the same schools and know the same people as they do. Julie described the phenomenon in a recent post.
That strength, though, can also be a weakness. With so many neighborhoods, there are lots of groups fighting for pieces of a limited pie. When City Council spends substantial time talking about downtown and OTR development, folks in other neighborhoods (often rightly) wonder when their neighborhood's "turn" will be.
Sometimes, though, "community" and "familiarity" can turn into provincialism and xenophobia. We all need to be on guard--whether we live in the "urban core," where we're more likely to get the attention of our political leaders, or in areas that aren't presently on a majority of Council's radar screens--that a healthy sense of community and feeling of belonging doesn't turn into unhealthy division that rends our city.
I think we all should make an effort to get out of our own neighborhoods regularly to see what's going on elsewhere. I can't remember, for instance, the last time I've been up to Northside, and I should remedy that promptly. What's on your list of places to get to soon (and what should be on mine)?