Crossing- the Underground Railroad by Charles Webber at Cincinnati Art Museum

Submitted by lmcshane on Sun, 12/29/2013 - 03:14.
Crossing- the Underground Railroad by Charles Webber at Cincinnati Art Museum

The Underground Railroad by Charles Webber

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Quick - Cultural Reflection CLE-CINC

I was fortunate to visit Cincinnati a few weeks ago - it was nice to have a change of scenery and I came away impressed with the culture reflected by development in the "Queen City."  Ohio is a strange animal - we have been settled at different times and by different people who displaced the native American Indians. 

While, CLE is a very diverse town - it was and continues to have a  Western Reserve mentality - of land speculation.

Cincinnati, meanwhile, was an early fort and settlement/trade area - with a very different mentality.  Please feel free to hammer me on my generalizations, but immediately in Cincinnati - I feel the energy of Germanic culture - and the other prominent cultures I feel represented are Jewish culture, African-American/Freeman who came to Cincy as salvation to slavery, and Appalachian-Scottish/Irish.  

I asked my hosts - what the big events are in Cincy and a stand out is Octoberfest.  Beer is integral to Cincy.  We once had a strong German representation, too - but waves of immigrants to CLE - changed our cultural landscape to big celebrations of Irish culture (St. Patrick's Day is definitely - a signature event) - and to smaller extent - summer festivals featuring Italian (Little Italy) and African- American (Family Unity Fest/ Luke Easter Park) and Asian and Latin culture (growing in strenghth and representation) stand out to me.  What cultures am I especially missing - East Asian? Middle East? Slavic cultures?  

We do have cultural strengths that I think we can capture more effectively than some cities - and I hope that we expand and define our selves by our cultural communities - instead of loosing these cultural identities.  Cleveland People is a website that celebrates our unique communities well.  I went to a Turkish restaurant last night and was thrilled to hear Arabic and Turkish conversation.  I feel very fortunate in my neighborhood to regularly hear Spanish and African languages, too.  I guess I am trying to find a way that we can distinguish our selves and attract more folks to celebrate our diversity.  I give myself some satisfaction by marking my calendar for future cultural events.  Next on my calendar - Martin Luther King Day.  We may not be a perfect union, but it provides some happiness to me to see families enjoying cultural activities in University Circle and throughout northeast Ohio on Martin Luther King Day.  

Every year it gets better and bigger and it helps break down barriers.  And, after that I look forward to St. Patrick's Day.  We have a lot to look forward to - and as much as I complain about CLE - I really do want the best for all of us.