Jaynie Levinson — Connecting Jewish Young Adults
The Grand City Experiment is Attempting to Make Lasting Changes to Cincinnati
It’s inspiring to see young people in Cincinnati trying to break the mold and make real change. The young spirit here is blossoming, and the Grand City Experiment is a perfect example.
The Grand City Experiment addresses a common criticism by newcomers to Cincinnati who say that the people here are not welcoming. While people here are friendlier on the surface than on either coast, there is a hesitance to welcome you into one’s social or communal circle. Recently I met Aftab Pureval, who is part of the young spirit changing this town. Aftab is a member of the Cincinnati Chamber’s C-Change Leadership Class. These young people on C-Change want to make real, unique change in Cincinnati, and Grand City Experiment can do just that.
The Grand City Experiment is “a movement to engage each other in a daily charge to make Greater Cincinnati more welcoming.” Each day during the month of October, the Grand City Experiment folks will offer up a challenge via e-mail and social media. “It’s as simple as an invitation – to dinner, drinks or an art gallery, or to play pick-up basketball,” says their website.
“Not everyone feels welcome in our city. Not everyone feels like a Greater Cincinnatian. Greater Cincinnati is friendly, but friendliness does not always equal welcoming. We have allowed pride in our neighborhoods, high schools and demographics to drive a wedge between us. This is driving away skilled, educated and diverse talent from our city.”
I couldn’t agree more with these statements and this initiative. I’m going to be candid about Cincinnati in this space: I think these are common feelings for those who are new to town or have spent any time living away from the city. Moving back to Cincinnati from New York City, I feel that sometimes Cincinnatians may be friendlier on the surface, but those in other cities I’ve found are more welcoming and will bring you into their social circles a lot easier. I’ve found New York and (living in) D.C. to be a lot more inclusive, and truly more welcoming, than Cincinnati.
The fact that some young leaders are taking this quality of life issue head-on in a productive way is exactly what we need to make Cincinnati a better place. If we want young people to live in this city, we need it to be diverse, welcoming, and inclusive…regardless of what high school you went to, race, sexual orientation, whether you want to live in the suburbs, or any other factor that might divide us.
The Jewish community locally is welcoming in many ways, and I think organizations and congregations are taking big, positive steps to integrate new people into the community. However, until we have an influx of Jews in our community and in our buildings, I think there is work to be done. I encourage you during these high holidays to take a look at how we can be more welcoming, and find some active steps to take to integrate a new person into your life. We have the opportunity to take the lead, especially in our initiative to attract and retain Jewish young adults. In addition, there is a Jewish-themed challenge on the first full-day of Sukkot (October 9th). Look out for that!
So let’s make some real change in Cincinnati on an intangible, X factor, to make Cincy better, join the Grand City Experiment. Check out The Grand City Experiment’s new video to learn more about what it looks like to participate. Share the video and sign up at http://www.thegrandcityexperiment.com to engage in the ripple effect! After signing up, you’ll start receiving daily emails when the experiment begins October 1, 2014.
So take the daily challenges, share your experiences through social media (@tgcexperiment, #thegrandcity), and be a part of changing this region!