Rachel Richardson: Local artists show Toledo prideWritten by Rachel Richardson | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Camaraderie is where it’s at! There is strength in numbers! United we stand! Divided, we can’t get squat done! The more the merrier! Kumba-freakin’-YA!
Perhaps you’ve heard that Toledo is the coolest and most revolutionary city in the Midwest? If not, you haven’t been hanging out Downtown with the world changers, which means you may not know that in some of the particularly happening spots, you will always find several people wearing Toledo gear (I’m wearing my Shine 419, “Portland doesn’t need you” shirt as I write this), drinking out of pint glasses emblazoned with logos of local nonprofits (designed by talented, long-time friends), or fantasizing about buying (better yet, actually buying) the local art on the walls.
We’re shouting it from the rooftops! Well, actually, from our Facebook pages … but still, this place has some serious spirit. And do you know why? Because it is very easy to get behind and show support for people and places that are trying to improve the state of things, and who are really good at it, and who are having a really good time doing it. Here are some examples. The Ottawa Tavern on Adams Street has live bands six out of seven nights a week for free. They also hold regular fundraising events for things like teachers trying to supply their classrooms or community members with outrageous medical bills. Wesley’s Bar and Grill, also on Adams Street, hosts the best weekly dance party you’ve ever seen and also hosts regular fundraisers for friendly politicians and nonprofits.
The Glass City Rollers are a team of athletic personalities who are easy to love, even if you don’t think you like sports. They also donate half of their 50/50 raffle winnings to local nonprofits at each of their home bouts. Old West End Records represents so much musical talent that I could write an entire column about the different combos it turns out to play each week. They also donated sound equipment and know-how to a memorial celebration of the life of Dr. Robert Brundage during the summer.
Toledo GROWs is creating community gardens and teaching urban populations about sustainability. The Center for Choice is providing women with reproductive choices and quality care. My organization, Independent Advocates, is working to change the community’s response to domestic violence. Some of my dearest friends are working on campaigns for Carol Contrada and Marcy Kaptur.
This is important work and we’re all running full speed ahead into our duties to leave this place better than we found it. It’s a big job, no doubt. But we’re leaning on each other and getting an awful lot done.
If you’re paying really close attention, you’ll notice something else. The staff at the Glass City Cafe is wearing Glass City Flamingos T-shirts (a very new softball team coached by none other than Star columnist and everyone’s favorite hippie, Stacy Jurich), and Independent Advocates’ staff are wearing Glass City Rollers T-shirts. I bet the next time you see local artist Anthony McCarty, he’ll be wearing a Devicious T-shirt (the one with the sunglasses seems to be his favorite).
Cross promotion does not begin to describe what is going on here. We are all so proud of each other and are so moved by each other’s work that we can’t help ourselves but to gush over and laud what everyone else has going on, which buoys the spirit that much more.
The hope that we are making our contemporaries proud has become a certain fuel that we run on. Productivity seems to be growing exponentially. It’s as if we were all born at the exact right time to do this very thing.
And of course we were.
So, what’s your cause? You have one. We all do. I know a woman who recently lost a dear friend to breast cancer. In the six months or so since her friend passed away, she has established a memorial fund and built and raced a team in her honor during this year’s Race for the Cure. She could not help herself but to answer a problem with something positive and powerful. It’s in the water in Toledo!
Together, we really are changing our corner of the world. We cannot help ourselves.
Rachel Richardson is an activist, musician and a product of Toledo. E-mail her at email@example.com.