A couple nights a week, my friends and I get into an animated discussion of politics, sports or whatever happens to come up. We know what pushes each other’s buttons. There are never any hard feelings, except for the night one of us stormed out after an argument over which song made the Beastie Boys famous (She’s On It on the Krush Groove soundtrack vs. the License to Ill album).
Last night’s debate started with my blog post about New Year’s Eve. I lamented the city’s tradition of having downtown child-centered activities that commence with fireworks at 10 p.m. Some party, right? I said people would come downtown for a full night of festivities if the city gave them a reason.
One of the guys launched into a rant so compelling (and long), I took out my iPad and started taking notes. He does not want me to use his name.
This was directed at me:
You think there’s a halo over all of Rochester. I miss the monorail and Cathay Pagoda, but the city has serious issues.
The suburbs are so great we don’t need to leave. We have everything, they’re the best suburbs in the country.
If you’re my dad, he has no reason to leave Webster. He has fine dining, shopping and Wegmans. You think people are always denigrating the city, but our suburbs are second to none.
You think life would stop in Brighton and Pittsford if downtown died? The city is not the hub for those people. I’m one of them.
I’m not smart enough to have a prescription to fix downtown. It’s sad and it’s a shame, but (the death of downtown) wouldn’t have the impact you think.
We need to focus on the entire area. We have great suburbs and crime is going down. You think I’m so anti-city and I’m not. I just don’t think downtown and the city are as important.
I (shockingly) disagree. Downtown is the center of our civic and cultural life. Fifty thousand people work downtown every day. There are many people who value a vibrant urban environment and lifestyle, even in a medium-sized city. Downtown is an important part of our identity.
The entire city is the core of our community. The concentration of poverty and blight in the city affects all of us in terms of crime, social services, education, economic development, quality of life and the perception of our metro area.
While I agree with my friend that we should think regionally, we should not think about only the good and dismiss the bad. None of us – not even city-centered me – should be isolated.
Update: My anonymous friend wants me to clarify that he was describing a mentality and belief that he does not necessarily share. He was relating his perception of the challenges facing the city. He may be a suburbanite, but he spends a lot of time in the city.