Tag Archives: Brain Drain

A Detroit Band with Staying Power

Source: musicboxpete.com

If you have’nt heard of Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers (JH+TRS), don’t worry, because you definitely will. Like a breezy breath of cool, fresh air blowing off of our lovely blue waters, this band brings to life a captivating musical style and awesome songwriting both on the stage and in its recordings. Their shows are filled with superb music and musicianship, tons of rollicking good fun, an eye-popping blizzard of floral/Hawaiian patterns, hilarious/zany eyewear, colorful balloons, and bouncing beach balls. It’s obvious that JH+TRS are having a great time on stage and everyone in the audience is invited to join the party…and they most certainly do.

 

Source: joehertler.com

Outstanding and often poignant lyrics will captivate you and draw you into each song’s story. Many of the song titles and themes may be Michigan-based (Ego Loss on Grand River Avenue, Red Wings, or J.L. Hudson for example), but the lyrics are truly universal. Meanwhile the hooks, melodies, and guitar riffs will have you bobbing your head and dusting off your well-worn air guitar to play along.  Here is what many considered the band’s signature song (Ego Loss on Grand River Avenue) from the album On Being:

And here are two excellent recent additions to the band’s discography (Your Story and Hometown)

What’s most enjoyable about JH+TRS is the way each of their tunes seeps down into you and occupies your heart and soul.  You’re not just idly listening to music by JH+TRS: you are experiencing it, as they skillfully portray life’s ups and downs from a Michigander’s/Rust Belter’s point of view.  And it is nice to know that we Michiganders and Rust Belters have some really cool (and important) things to say–without having to move away to say it!

Rick Brown

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Brain Drain, Featured, Great Lakes

'Smartest' US Cities Have a Rusty Tint

SOURCE: contentrules.com

According to a June 6, 2012 piece by Richard Florida published by The Atlantic Cities, a recent analysis by Lumosity shows that more than half of the 25 smartest cities in the United States are situated in the Rust Belt. In order to calculate the smartest metropolitan areas, the article indicates that the following research methodology was utilized:

“…scientists at Lumosity tracked the cognitive performance of more than one million users in the United States on their games, mapping them across U.S. metros using IP geolocation software. Individual scores were recorded in five key cognitive areas: memory, processing speed, flexibility, attention, and problem solving.The data was normalized into a basic brain performance index controlling for age and gender. Only metros with more than 500 observations were included. The data cover 169 metros.”

Based on the research, below is the list of America’s 25 brainiest metros, according to Lumosity’s metrics, with the city’s ranking in parentheses:

  • Lafayette, Indiana (2)
  • Madison, Wisconsin (4)
  • Cedar Rapids-Waterloo-Iowa City & Dubuque, Iowa (6)
  • Johnstown-Altoona, Pennsylvania (8)
  • Champaign & Springfield-Decatur, Illinois (9)
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota/Wisconsin (10)
  • Rochester, New York (13)
  • Lansing, Michigan (16)
  • Burlington-Plattsburgh, Vermont/New York (18)
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (19)
  • Syracuse, New York (20)
  • La Crosse-Eau Claire, Wisconsin (23)
  • Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York Pennsylvania (24)
  • Springfield-Holyoke, Massachusetts (25)

According to Daniel Sternberg, who developed the brain performance measure,

“The result is not driven principally by college students. “Since our analysis controlled for age, the reason they score well is not simply that they have a lot of young people,” said Sternberg. “Instead, our analysis seems to show that users living in university communities tend to perform better than users of the same age in other locations.”

An informative map (see below) prepared by the University of Toronto’s Martin Prosperity Institute depicts the results of the Lumosity study graphically. It clear shows concentrated strength throughout much of the Northeast, Great Lakes, and Midwest, with other areas scoring well along the Pacific Coast, Alaska and Hawaii, the I-35 corridor of Texas, and those larger metropolitan areas of the Rocky Mountain region.

 

The good news that could be derived from this report is that the “brain drain” may not be quite as bad as first thought. However, this represents a snapshot over one period of time. A more reliable long-term measure will be when this data is spread out further so trends can be observed.

The results also present an excellent marketing and public relations tool for many economic development agencies in the Rust Belt. Here’s is a weblink to one such press release from Greater Lansing’s LEAP (Lansing Economic Area Partnership).

Congratulations to all those cities who scored well in this report. As a graduate of Purdue University in Greater Lafayette, Indiana and a resident of Greater Lansing, Michigan, I was very pleased to see the data show what I already knew about these two terrific cities of the Rust Belt.

More details about the report and the story itself are available at Atlantic Cities.

Rick Brown

1 Comment

Filed under Brain Drain, Economic Development, Education, Headline, Public Education, The Media, Urban Planning

The Rust Belt's Brain Drain Expressed in Music

Greater Lansing has an amazing music scene, but it’s seldom heard about outside a 100 mile or so radius from the state capital. Probably the best known band to hail from this area is The Verve Pipe, with its memorable #1 hit single “The Freshman.” Frontier Ruckus, The Hard Lessons, and Autumn Lull (among others) have also made a decent amount of buzz outside of their Greater Lansing roots.

Source: soundcloud.com

The Greater Lansing area alternative rock band Elliot Street Lunatic recently released their album Ghost Town Lullabies, and it’s simply superb! I cannot give it a high enough rating–it is literally off the charts for those of us who like alternative rock or indie music.

If there is any downside to the album, it is the sense the listener gets that the band feels it will eventually have to leave Mid-Michigan for the limelight and better opportunities elsewhere. This melancholy feeling is most clearly evident from some of the lyrics contained in the last two tracks, “Shine” and “Lullaby.”

Shine

“He said

That we are all out of time

As we head to the sky

So pack your bags tonight

 

And I know

That the world is slowing down

And I can tell

That everyone is lost, lost, lost, lost


And I can tell

That we will be on our own

So long

To everything you know

To everything you know.”

Lyrics by Elliot Street Lunatic

Lullaby

“And I know some day we will leave

To find a better place to call our home

And now we’re all alone…

And what if we could change it all

Would we be here watching the sun rise and fall

I thought we knew it all.”

Lyrics by Elliot Street Lunatic

As it turns out, two members of the band are already moving on. At the CD release party, it was announced that one is leaving for Denver and the other for graduate school. One can perceive the conflicted emotions that come with a move away from one’s friends and hometown roots. This contradiction is most clearly evident in the lyrics in the track “Hollow Tree.”

Hollow Tree

“You left it all behind

To start a brand new life

We could have had it all

But that’s not who we are

 

We live in a hollow tree

That doesn’t bother me

To sleep out in the cold

Is where I want to be

 

But when I hear them say

You could have been someone

I’ll never understand

Cause I know where I am.”

Lyrics by Elliot Street Lunatic

As a parent of three grown sons, all of whom may move away some day (the oldest will be moving out east this summer), these songs and this record really hit home. In Michigan and throughout much of the Rust Belt, the “brain drain” is a very real problem that continues to be difficult to overcome no matter how many cool cities, music venues, placemaking features, and great third places we create or highlight.

Despite efforts to beef up the cultural and economic vibrancy of the region, in the opening song “Ghost Town,” the band’s lyrics reflect a concern that at least some communities remain stuck in neutral.

Ghost Town

“When no one’s around to ever make a sound

When no one’s around to ever make a sound

Cause this old Ghost Town’s going nowhere.”

Lyrics by Elliot Street Lunatic

Whether the band is referring to Greater Lansing or another community doesn’t really matter. The perception among young people growing up in many parts of the Rust Belt is there are brighter lights and greater opportunities elsewhere. It may be as close by as Chicago, or as far away as the east and west coasts. Either way, it is bad news for many communities dotting the Rust Belt.

 

Elliot Street Lunatic - Source: statenews.com

Personally, I hope the two remaining original members of Elliot Street Lunatic will maintain their roots and thrive with their new bandmates here in Greater Lansing. In our digital world, geography has become virtually irrelevant when is comes to finding outstanding music like Ghost Town Lullabies.

 

Rick Brown

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Brain Drain, Economic Development, Headline

Caution to Cities: Don’t Overly Focus on Increasing Degree Share

Lots of people who care about cities have focused their energy on helping cities attract college graduates, as the college degree share of a region is highly correlated with how successful it is economically.

This report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland cautions that  “too narrow a focus on the graduates can lead to misguided policies”

It continues:

“It is a summary statistic that can change for many reasons. One metro area could have a fast-rising share because it has a lot of universities graduating local students or attracting high-skilled immigrants. Another area might achieve a rising share by losing unskilled workers when its low-skill industry declines. To understand the factors that have shaped the degree share, we need to dig behind the summary statistic and examine what is happening to both the graduate and nongraduate populations.”

What do you think?

The Fed report concludes:

“Some metro areas that appear to be highly successful at raising their college degree share are really just keeping pace with the national growth in college graduates while not offering an attractive standard of living to adults without college degrees. It may not be politically desirable, or even possible, for other metro areas to copy their ‘success.’ Likewise, there are metro areas that are gathering massive workforces of college graduates, but they receive less attention from regional development experts because strong in-migration of nongraduates keeps the college degree share at a modest level.

The point to take away from this analysis is that the growth in the nondegree population has to be taken into consideration when the divergence of education levels is discussed. Educating students, retaining graduates, and attracting migrant graduates all matter, but retaining or attracting nongraduates also matters. The populations of adults without college degrees are not static or immobile. Looking at growth relative to a historical baseline refocuses our attention on the majority of the workforce that does not hold an undergraduate degree. Understanding how they impact “smart places getting smarter” is an important step toward deriving useful policy recommendations from this phenomenon.”

-KG

Leave a comment

Filed under Brain Drain, Economic Development, Good Ideas

Battling “Brain Drain”

More than 50 US cities are competing to win a $1 million prize if they increase their number of college-educated residents.

The Talent Dividend Prize will be awarded by CEOs for Cities to the metropolitan area that exhibits the greatest increase in the number of post-secondary degrees granted per capita over a three-year period, the organization announced recently.

Competing cities include: Akron, Baltimore, Buffalo, Chicago; Cleveland, Dayton, Detroit, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Rochester, St. Louis and Youngstown.

Read the complete list of competing cities and more details here. Is your city on the list?

What do you think of the contest? Is this a good way to help cities realize their economic potential?

-KG

Leave a comment

Filed under Brain Drain, Economic Development, Good Ideas

Are Ohioians the Okies of the Great Recession?

“Go Home Buckeyes,” was the caption in an article in The Charleston City Paper published this spring.

The command was wrapped around a brick in the photo. The subhead was “worthless nuts.”

brick-mag

“They have gelled hair, wear cargo shorts, vertical-lined shirts, and, if you’re really lucky, high black-and-white socks with tennis shoes,” says a “sixth generation Charlestonian.”

The article continues: “Each spring they attack the city, gumming pralines and Hyman’s hush puppy samples. Their legions are strong, and their numbers are growing. They’re called Ohioans.”

Angry Charlestonians have created a website Gobacktoohio.com, according to the article.

It also includes an interview with a charming Charleston resident who sells “Leave your daughter and go back to Ohio” stickers for $3 a pop.

My best friend from high school recently moved to Charleston, following her boyfriend. She said there is a very distinctive anti-Ohio attitude in the city.

It got me thinking about The Grapes of Wrath, with its references to the derogatory “Okies” from Oklahoma that fled Midwestern dust bowl despair for California’s lettuce bowl during the Great Depression.

Are Ohioians the new Okies?

I guess I never thought much about how our economic diaspora might be affecting other communities. Aren’t we the ones responsible for the gangbuster real estate industry in the South?

According to my friend, Natalie, however the job market in Charleston is abysmal. In Ohio, she sold print advertising. Now the college graduate is a waitress, and she’s not optimistic about her prospects.

Ohioians are attracted by South Carllina’s beaches and sun. About 40 percent of the state’s residents were born elsewhere. It is a “magnet state,” while Ohio is just the opposite. Natalie said all of her friends, a group of about 10, are from Ohio.

Charleston is a tourist town and it has a tourist economy too. That means lots of service industry jobs, few corporate headquarters and a cyclical business season that all but shuts down in the off-season.

My guess is that the Ohio backlash is economic. In the article, one Ohio detractor says, “they take our jobs and harass our women.”

The joking tone of the article and its sources aside, I think there is some real tension and it’s economic at heart.

It’s strange to see white Midwesterners on the receiving end some of the prejudice that international immigrants have battled for years.

-AS

8 Comments

Filed under Art, Brain Drain, Headline, Real Estate

Original Documentary: A Dream of Youngstown

Rust Wire is very excited to share this newly released, original documentary by our own contributor, graduate student and photographer Sean Posey.

The past three decades have erased much of the city of Youngstown that
my father and grandfather knew: An area once known as ” the city of
homes” became known for widespread arson; a city once indelibly linked
with steel and manufacturing became known as the grave yard of the
American steel industry. Youngstown, much like Detroit, went from being
a symbol of the American dream to being a worst case example of the
“urban crisis” that has engulfed so many of this country’s inner
cities.

Yet, we should not overlook the fact that much has changed for good in
the Steel Valley. Corruption trials in the late 1990s broke the
decades long grip of organized crime in the area.
The downtown area, once a ghost town, has rebounded. Even the moribund
steel industry has added jobs with the recent expansion announcement
by V&M Star Steel.

This documentary looks at the individual stories and struggles of
Youngstown citizens who still believe in the city despite all that has
transpired. These are people still fighting the good fight in a town
once given up for dead. As we enter 2010, we should not forget the
tribulations of the past, nor the trials of the present; instead, let
us look to a future where both can inform the tough choices that will
have to be made so that future generations may be willing to call
Youngstown home.

-Sean Posey

256px-youngstown2_036

4 Comments

Filed under Art, Headline, Real Estate