Dave Rolfes: A Year at UrbanCincy

It was exactly one year ago today that I published my first UrbanCincy post. It was a riveting piece to be sure, about the Cincy Beer Fest that was being held in <gasp!> Covington, KY. I had long been a resident of the Cincinnati area, always to the north of the river, but a move about two years prior into the Covington portion of our urban core had really helped me start to see our area in a different light. So the fact that my first UrbanCincy post captured what some considered to be a poorly named festival actually made total sense to me. It was a uniquely Cincinnati event that happened to stretch a few blocks south of the Ohio River, just as I had myself.

After spending many years on the sidelines and being a mostly passive member of the community, getting started helping with UrbanCincy gave me a chance to explore the world around me in a new and unique way. Having a part in the story telling of the rebirth of Cincinnati is not only something I take great pride in, it is something that has exponentially increased my passion for the Queen City. In these parts, depending on who you listen to, or who you read, it is easy to get bogged down in a lot of negativity about our fair city. I believe though, that the reality of the situation is quite different, and I am not alone. In fact, there is a growing group of energetic people involved in making Cincinnati a great place to live, work and play and UrbanCincy put me on the path to finding them.

As UrbanCincy has helped rekindle my passion about Cincinnati, it has also helped me become more involved with the community. As you know we are in favor of rail transit as urban development, so I spent time volunteering with Cincinnatians for Progress. We are passionate about activity in the urban core, so I played in the Fountain Square Broomball League. We are of course focused on doing everything we can to make the Cincinnati Streetcar a reality, so I went down to City Council and spoke my piece about the $64M bond issue to help fund it.

The beauty of all this is that I learned that Cincinnati is a place where anyone can make a difference and that is truly the most eye opening part of the past year. Try going to a bigger city, say Chicago, and helping shape the future of the city. That is quite a large city to have your voice heard and impact change, good luck. You could head to a smaller town where it may be easier to make a difference, but you will not find near the amount of activity and development like you see in Cincinnati. To me, and to many, we are at the right time and the right place in Cincinnati to step up and really impact the future.

The urban core of Cincinnati has an incredible amount of momentum right now: Cincinnati Streetcar is on the way; The Banks and Central Riverfront Park are taking shape; 21c Hotel is coming; people are choosing to live, work, and play downtown. However, it is not only the changing environment around us that will attract and retain talent; it is this chance to get involved as well. The chance to make a difference and have an impact is not something that is easily seen or easily measured, but it is what will keep our momentum sustainable for years to come.

While UrbanCincy has helped me find my way and my voice and increase my engagement as it relates to the future of Cincinnati, it is definitely not the only way to get involved. I encourage you to take a look around, and if you aren’t already, start to view this city as a place with a bright future. There are too many good things happening for there not to be a substantial positive change in our city. I ask you to think about what inspires you, and reflect on it. I recommend you go out and find a way to make Cincinnati a better place to live. You will not regret it, I know I haven’t.

  • Hard to believe its only been a year Dave. This highlights what I hate about the discussion when people get hung up on the whole is a blogger a journalist debate.
    I say no, a journalist reports on what they observe, meanwhile a growing group of us bloggers are slowly but surely exerting our will on our world and city.

    Keep up the good work.

  • great

    Wonderful; bravo. You’ve helped reverse the trajectory of white flight back into the urban core, where gentrification can further drive out the ‘negative’ people of the city (black people). It’s our city to beautify , our white , crystalline city. That’s awesome that you play broomball and help a bunch of rich developers gain even more money for projects that pretty much only serve to increase value in a top-down effect (read: drive out the impoverished). God knows that they don’t deserve it.

  • “great”–

    I’m sorry you feel this way. I see development in our urban core as a positive thing. Just because people of different incomes or races move to the urban core doesn’t mean that “gentrification” is taking place. There is plenty of room for additional residents and businesses in Downtown, OTR, and the West End. Perhaps the new residents will make our urban core an even more diverse place which will benefit everyone. I think your claim that “rich developers” are trying to “drive out the impoverished” is unfounded. It sounds to me like you’re trying to tell certain demographics that they don’t “belong” in a certain neighborhood, which is quite a discriminatory point-of-view.

  • “Great”
    What is you plan? Instead of telling us that we suck for existing, why not offer up some actual plans or ideas that would actually change things for the better?

  • Kevin Wright

    I know I’m late to this comment string, but after reading it I felt the need to put in my two cents.


    While I think you concern about gentrification is legitimate, I have to agree with Travis and Brian. Instead of posting a sarcastic comment directed at UrbanCincy, I would suggest finding a way to start a conversation about ‘social justice’ and it’s relationship with economic development. Economic Development is essential to our city; however,you are right in that we should be careful in terms of how we treat current inner city residents. I believe that Cincinnati has a unique opportunity to merge social issues with economic issues in a productive fashion, we just have to create a dialogue between the two groups. This is one of the reason UrbanCincy exists, so please help us push the conversation forwards not backwards.