The (Bike) Path Forward

Like most, I really didn’t have any appreciation for one of the world’s greatest inventions. I assumed bikes were only for children, drunk drivers and men with a lycra fetish. When I ran the Ohio Main Street program, I was tasked with putting together a regular schedule of workshops. One of these workshops was on the topic of making cities more bike friendly and Greenville, Ohio was the host city. In an effort to gain some first hand experience on this topic, we, as staff at Heritage Ohio, decided we would make our way there by bike.

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Amber Davidson
Something's Missing

It’s not too late, but every day we wait to address these issues, they grow more difficult. Ask yourself, who is responsible for making your community a better place to live? If you don't have an answer, you have a major problem. This is not a function that any city can continue to ignore. The issue of livability isn’t going anywhere either. People are more mobile than ever and are increasingly not tethered to their work. Those with means and ability are continuously leaving the towns that need them the most and migrating towards cities that can offer them the quality of life they want. This trend is having devastating consequences.

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Amber Davidson
It's Not the Red Tape, Stupid

Another town and another enlightening conversation with an elected official. Over a cup of coffee, this particular mayor was filling me in on his city's strategy to rebuild their economy. He explained how they were assembling a parking task-force, creating a merchants organization, recruiting out of town businesses, building an industrial park and loosening building regulations. It was like he read my new book “5 Failed Strategies that Have Proven Ineffective at Growing Your Local Economy Time and Time Again” dropping this fall! 

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Amber Davidson
Save Our Buildings, Save Ourselves

A few years back, while hosting an event for the governor’s State of the State address in Marietta, Ohio, I had a chance to speak with a local councilwoman during the reception. To this day, I remain in awe of the ridiculous things people let pass their lips. This particular councilwoman explained to me that, “People in Marietta didn’t really care about preservation. It’s not something that matters to them.” I tried, albeit poorly, to disguise my disbelief, that an elected official would have such a poor understanding of her constituents.

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Amber Davidson
F*ck Apathy

Yeah, I know, the title seems a little “in your face.” Maybe an attempt to grab attention with the shock value of that word. But that’s not my angle here. I am happy to use the word fuck in every day conversation, I love the word and I don’t feel the need to save it for special occasions. Honestly, if there were a stronger word to use here - I would, but fuck will have to suffice. The reason being, that when it comes to apathy, I don’t believe it is effective to talk about it in half measures.

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Amber Davidson
Lessons Learned on Main Street

Revitalization never crossed my mind as any sort of career aspiration as a child, city planner didn’t quite have the same appeal as being the next Bo Jackson. The concept of where you lived and the role it played in your life was not something we talked about at the dinner table. We could ride our bikes to the neighbors or “Muck Lake” as we called it, but everything else required a car, including school. My childhood in Lima, Ohio seemed pretty groovy, so I assumed it was the same for most. When they let me out of school at 18,  I moved on down the road to central Ohio, yet college didn’t necessarily provide me with any different opinions on the matter of place either.  My school was in a nice Midwest town, that at the time had a struggling downtown, but it didn’t concern me much. Like most, the setting of my life, didn't really enter into my consciousness in terms of the role it played in shaping of my life. 

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Amber Davidson
A Reason to Stay

A few years back, I was touring the downtown of a community in northeast, Ohio, and had a bit of an epiphany regarding the true importance of downtown. City leaders had invited me to their community to discuss strategies to revitalize. Like thousands of cities across the country, their best days appeared to be behind them and they were struggling to understand why they continued to lose their best and brightest and why every year their town looked a little worse. It’s a sad story of course, for every person that resides in these places knows they live somewhere that is worse today, than yesterday.  

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Amber Davidson
Pick Up Your Place

We don't often give credit to how much appearances affect us and shape our opinions. We judge nearly everything based on looks. We see the way people dress and groom themselves and it leads us to conclusions about those people. We instantly make determinations about a person’s level of success, health, pride, and self confidence, just from a glance. The website “People of Wal-Mart” wouldn’t exist if we didn't. When we see a home, our opinions are shaped by all of the details that we can see from the street, and we even go so far as to make assumptions about the person that lives there. 

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Amber Davidson
Tourism Won't Save Your Town

Tourism has long been touted as an economic windfall. A sound tourism strategy, in theory, will bring people far and wide to your community to leave you all of their money. When they run out, they will return home to demand schooling and trash pickup, thus thereby burdening their own municipality.

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Amber Davidson