It’s that time of year again, guys! That time of year where I have an uncontrolled aneurysm as the result of the stupidity of Cleveland Magazine’s anticipated “Rating the Suburbs” issue.
Every year this plastic-surgeon-supported pamphlet makes a list of the most car-centric, culturally vapid, tract-housing, white-people ghettos in Northeast Ohio. Whichever suburb is the whitest, with the most big-box stores, is generally the runaway favorite for top prize.
Case in point is this year’s winner: Richfield Village. Does anyone want to guess what the racial makeup of this community is? Come on, guess! At the last Census, the village of Richfield was 96% white and 2% African American. You’d be hard pressed to find a whiter place in the region.
With as consistently pale as the magazine’s “top suburbs” are, you’d almost think that was exactly what this “study” was designed to measure. But that would be so cynical!
Of course the Cleveland Magazine article waxes poetic about the “friendliness” of this lily white bastion in a recently rural corner of Summit County a good 20 miles from the city of Cleveland.
“I get a real sense of friendliness and community,” said Denna Coburn, a white person was profiled by the magazine for living in Richfield. Hmm, of course I imagine that friendliness only applies to a certain demographic of people.
Cleveland Magazine measures the region’s communities based on education, taxes, safety, housing and walkability. To their credit, it even has a “City Style” rating (this year’s winner was Cleveland Heights), where they basically throw a bone to communities that aren’t morally and environmentally bankrupt.
I am trying to imagine an alternative rating system we could develop, that would be equally legitimate, that would have exactly the opposite result. What if instead of prioritizing taxes and schools, we prioritized commuting ease and cultural amenities? (Attention Cleveland Magazine: Transportation costs represent American families’ No. 2 household expense, so it might legitimately be a more important factor than local taxes.) Also, let’s say we made diversity a category and called that a good thing. Let’s face it, diversity enriches our communities and our lives. Let’s say, for good measure, we also added architectural quality to the list.
What do you want to bet, Cleveland would be coming out on the top of the list every year? But hey, what real estate agent wants to advertise in a publication like that? (If there are any out there, we are selling advertising now, by the way. We’ll be holding our breaths!)