Is Cleveland better place to be "strapped"?

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Fri, 02/10/2006 - 14:42.


Hitting stride with "are you depressed yet" and concluding with something like "thirty years from now, today's 20-&-30-somethings will look back on their generation as the one that saved the American Dream or lived through its demise", Director of Economic Opportunity Program at Demos and author of "Strapped, Why America's 20- and 30-Somethings Can't Get Ahead" Tamara Draut gave an audience of 20- and 30-Somethings and others lots to think and talk about at a very interesting and refreshing forum at Cleveland State.

A straight thinking and inspiring 20-something, Ms. Draut talked attendees through the obstacle course faced by today's young people - high higher-education costs and debt, high housing and other living costs, high exposure to credit card interest debt, lack of good employment and income opportunity, a really screwed-up government and a world of leaders who are not responsive to or even aware of the needs and interests of 20-&-30-somethings, largely because 20-&-30-somethings do not participate in the civic and political process.

After outlining such ugly realities, which are the subject of her book, Ms. Draut pointed out the only solutions to what are in fact the world's problems will be found through her generation, the 20-&-30-somethings, becoming move involved in the political process - not just voting but organizing and running for office. Otherwise, the implications are dire.

Following this presentation, a panel discussion featured Ms. Draut and two North East Ohio 20-&-30-something leaders, Daniel Gray-Kontar, of Catalyst Cleveland, and Hannah M. Fritzman, of The Cleveland Executive Fellowship & Civic Innovation Lab, who responded to topics raised from very personal, local perspectives.

Mr. Gray-Kontar spoke of the difficulties faced by youth well before they reach their 20s - before college is even a dream - and that for most inner-city children college is not a dream. We must focus on the public primary and secondary schools and urban problems.

While Ms. Draut pointed out her research is focused on the issues facing high school graduates, the issues raised by Gray-Kontar seems of interest to the audience, which was largely CSU students and other 20-&-30-somethings. These are core issues of concern in our community.

 Ms. Fritzman brought other perspectives, being a young professional who came to the Cleveland area from mid-Ohio and has been very successful and felt gratified by her experience with peers here. Her observation was that she is fortunate to be in NEO, where a 20-something can own a condo in the heart of downtown and be part of the civic process in a very intimate way.

It was very cool to hear Ms. Draut share specific concerns of her generation - her presentation on the topic was entirely authentic and personal, as was the response of the panel. It was interesting to view here world from a national perspective, and then through the panel discussion consider that getting "Strapped" may be less of a problem in NEO, where at least housing costs are lower. As youth become more strapped around the country (world), Cleveland will benefit as a safer, lower cost harbor.

But we can do better than that - let's make NEO a world-class place to avoid becoming strapped

What do you think? If you missed Ms. Draught, you can catch the continuation of this discussion today (Friday, 02/10/06) AT 7 pm at Mac's Backs on Coventry - see MORE INFO here 

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Re: Is Cleveland better place to be "strapped"?

I am upset I missed this event. Forgot to add it to the calendar.

Sweet thoughts from the Greatest Generation

I was really disturbed by the response of the PD-reading public to their coverage of this event - see example below. This makes me wonder how big is the generation gap these days, versus other times in history... anyone know any metrics or studies on that?

Crybaby generation needs to suck it up
Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Book reviewer John Dicker (Forum, Feb. 12) agrees with authors Anya Kamenetz and Tamara Draut ("Generation Debt") that the new generation of college graduates has accumulated huge debts and the future looks bleak.

We, of the "greatest generation" are not sympathetic; their problems pale in comparison to the almost overwhelming obstacles of the Great Depression and World War II.

Yet we survived and overcame the odds. We won the war, rebuilt Europe and Japan, educated more young men and women than any other generation, built schools, colleges and universities, and suburbia and infrastructure on an unprecedented scale. And we prospered individually.

Our successors, the "baby boom" generation, continued on the path we prepared and produced the present "baby bust" generation. I am confident that the present generation will have the ingenuity and good sense to prosper likewise.

Newell D. Sanders Olmsted Township

Please spare me the bleatings of Anya Kamenetz and Tamara Draut - and poor "Cindy" with her $10,000 in debt and only $20,000 in income.

I graduated from Case Western Reserve University in 1973 with $10,000 in bills and started with a job paying "only" $10,000 a year. Yet I still managed to pay off my debt without whining about how cruel and tough and generationally elitist society had become.

Stop crying in your lattes, get a job and some experience, work yourself out of debt and up to a more substantial salary, and grow up. If you don't like the economic circumstances and the political climate that has helped to create the current business environment and career options, then get off your rear ends and vote to change that world.

Matt Nousak Geneva

draut is right on

    Nice to see this come up in the last viewed today. I attended both the CSU Forum and then went again to bring my husband with me to Mac's Backs. We bought the book for our son who headed off to college this past fall. He read it in one sitting and then chose the college that would graduate him with less debt (so far).

    Back home after the first quarter in Chicago, he has been convening and comparing schools and communities with his buds for the last several weeks. They all say, "There is no place like the Heights". These kids had acess to amazing diversity, a stunning array of arts and culture and libraries beyond comparison. You just don't know til you leave how great a place Northeast Ohio is in the great scheme of things. He and his friends have ended up in small college towns (Athens and Springfield, Ohio), mid sized college towns (Columbus, Ohio) and large urban areas (Boston and Chicago). None of them chose NYC -- basically it was too expensive to live there, and while in school, they would simply be frustrated by their inability to access the cultural activity that abounds there. They all say that they had grown up hearing that Cleveland was the pit, but now they aren't so sure. It looks pretty unique in its own ways and pretty cool for college kids who aren't 21 yet. Ease of access to the Museum and national touring bands as well as the Beachland and local galleries ranks high among these 18 and 19 year olds. They didn't know that there are many kids out there who are so narrow since they grew up being exposed to so many wide ranging activities.

    Here's hoping that 4 years or 6 years from now, Cleveland will be a place that they can return to for work. And here's hoping that they will not be returning to get on the moving sidewalk of first job experiences that Draut describes. that Cleveland is a great place to rear children has already been tested. The kids themselves have spoken on that one...

From Draut to draw - what would draw your son back?

You bring up many interesting observations in this posting. Your son and his friends like the Heights and the area - you mention Beachland and live music, museum and galleries, which are largely in Cleveland. And you hope Cleveland will be a place that attracts them back and retains them after they finish studies. Sounds like they are a good focus grop to teach the powers that be here what is important to the next generations that will either carry the region forward or leave for good and settle elsewhere. So, are these colege-somethings interested in the sprawled assets of the region - will they move back for Crocker Park - or are they interested in core assets. Where would they want to live if they came back, and what lifestyle would retain them here. If we can determine their priorities now, and track them over the next 4-6 years, then we may build by then a community that will be successful for the next generation - if we continue planning based on their parent's and grandparents desires, we don't stand a chance

Disrupt IT