Richardson: Diving inWritten by Rachel Richardson | | firstname.lastname@example.org
If you love Toledo, it will love you back. I promise. I’ve learned this in the past three years. I don’t know what it is, besides some hippie dippy “the universe is unfolding as it should” kind of talk, but something happened in 2007.
A cohort (my favorite vocabulary word from my first semester of sociology at Kent State) of action-oriented people decided it was time to create a city that was hip, unique, socially conscious and action packed. Ever since then, the constant popping up of interesting and cultural opportunities is unstoppable, as if some kind of domino game set itself in motion that illustrated the possibilities for creation. Its momentum is still remarkable.
I should say here that it is entirely possible that the beginnings of this movement came before 2007. I only know that this was the time I began to pay close attention and placed myself as close to the center of it as I could possibly get. I can point to three concrete examples of what I mean here and certainly do not intend to leave anyone or anything out. But, these three things filled up my life in such a significant way, and led to so many other opportunities to be involved with my community, that I will give them the most credit in my personal history.
As far as I understand it, they all appeared in 2007, which has had me analyzing that fact pretty intensely.
I encourage everyone reading this to make a list of the three things (or more) that make Toledo what it is to you and to love and feed those things with your energy and devotion (a little more hippie talk) and you will see exactly what I mean. My three things are as follows: Independent Advocates, Wesley’s Bar and Grill on Adams Street and the Glass City Rollers.
Independent Advocates is something that has gotten a lot of attention lately and is obviously built in to my experience because Rebecca Facey and I created it. Beyond that, it has shaped my relationship with Toledoans who care about the issue of domestic violence and will do whatever they can to support our efforts to improve Lucas County’s response to it.
Heavy stuff, but activism is so much fun! It has been pleasantly challenging to come up with as many different ways to engage and involve the community in this work as Toledo will provide. We filmed a public service announcement with Mayor Mike Bell, several City Council members, Toledo Police Chief Mike Navarre and more than 50 Toledoans all saying, “It’s our responsibility to stop domestic violence!” Each of those people took that message with them.
And a couple hundred more recently left an Independent Advocates fundraising event with a bumper sticker stating the same. This ripple effect is powerful to watch.
The second item on my Toledo list is just pure fun. Which is, of course, necessary to keep doing the work. Every Friday night at Wesley’s Bar on Adams Street, there is a dance party.
And that was just the understatement of the year. Since November of 2007, three DJs have shown up with their turntables and crates of records and given us Downtown kids a place and soundtrack to, literally, dance our troubles away. The DJs are amazing. The atmosphere is even more so. It’s a night for friendliness and grooving together. What could be better?
The third item is going to explode this year. Mark my words. Have you heard of the Glass City Rollers? It’s only the coolest sports team I’ve ever had the pleasure of cheering on and becoming its No. 1 fan. I don’t know the exact history, but I do know some of the people involved in bringing roller derby to Toledo and I am beside myself with gratitude for it.
It helps that a handful of my favorite humans are on the team, but I think I could objectively identify the uniqueness and character that this team lends to its hometown. Do yourself a favor and go to the home bouts this season at the SeaGate Centre. The crowd is diverse. The game is intense. And the roller girls are incredibly lovable.
My three things keep me pretty busy and barely scratch the surface of opportunities to love my experience living in Toledo. Please dive in. Only good can come of it.
Rachel Richardson is an activist, musician, co-founder and co-director of Independent Advocates, and a product of Toledo, Ohio. E-mail her at email@example.com.