One year ago yesterday I started Clue Into Cleveland. I’m both a little surprised and proud of myself for keeping this up for twelve months. Before this blog, I had had Livejournal and Blogger sites, but they were personal blogs and after a few months my interest in them would wane.
I had partially given up on blogging because I couldn’t think of anything worthwhile that I wanted to write about. However, early last year on a long car ride between Philadelphia and Cleveland, Scott and I were discussing the notorious Forbes article and I found myself getting really worked up.
This outburst had been building up for a while – a culmination of other little moments where I’d have to defend Cleveland to people we know or listen to jeers about the city. But it was the miserable Forbes article that tipped my frustration over the edge. I couldn’t understand why Cleveland had such a negative reputation — I had lived in the city for only three years but was in love with it. There was so much to do, I could afford to do it, and the people here were friendly and passionate about the community (two attributes in people that are really important to me).
At some point in the conversation, Scott asked (probably a little tired of listening to me go on about the subject) ‘Why don’t you do something about it?’ I replied that I didn’t think there was much I could do. However, knowing that I used to enjoy writing, he suggested starting a blog and seeing where that took me. An hour later, we even had a name - Clue Into Cleveland. It seemed appropriate enough since we thought people needed to get a clue about what this city has to offer.
So, here I am one year later and still “#HappyinCLE” to be writing about this city. Looking back, I was never sure where the blog would take me and I’ve ended up in some (pleasantly) surprising places.
I think that I’ve been most surprised by how much I personally clued into the city by blogging about it. Although I may have started Clue Into Cleveland because I wanted to tell friends and family back in Philly and Virginia about the places I love here, I discovered so many new things along the way. From the Cleveland Sketch Crawls, Hidden Cleveland Tours and various festivals, it’s been a whirlwind year exploring Cleveland more than any other city I’ve lived in before.
By opening myself up to these new experiences, I’ve found organizations and businesses that have given me my truly favorite moments of the last twelve months (and some of the best turnout on my blog):
- Burning River Roller Girls: In a year when Cleveland saw the nasty side of pro sports, our city’s roller derby league provided a welcome alternative and demonstrated true athleticism and sportsmanship. Their new season opens up this Saturday. I’ve already purchased my season tickets so you know I’ll be there!
- Great Lakes Theater Festival: One of the best designed theaters I’ve ever been in with a fantastic company of actors and crew. I’m looking forward to Complete Works of Shakespeare Abridged on Sunday and Two Gentlemen of Verona in April.
- The Happy Dog: Not just a great and unique dining experience, but also a fantastic bar with events like DJ Kishka’s Polka Happy Hour and Orchestral Manouvres at the Dog. Whenever I have visitors in town, this is usually our first stop.
- The Cleveland Play House: I’m amazed by the variety and frequency of shows the Cleveland Play House produces — and how well they do it. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season, Fusion Fest and the beginning of their next chapter as they move to PlayhouseSquare this Fall.
- The Cleveland Orchestra: With world-class musicians playing in the breathtaking Severance Hall, it’s easy to lose yourself in a night of music with the Cleveland Orchestra. They also do an excellent job promoting the community not only at home with music education programs, but also throughout the country and abroad when they go on tour.
In addition to affording me the opportunity to observe Cleveland, writing this blog has also pushed me to get involved. Without it, I would not have been introduced to organizations like PlayhouseSquare’s Partners and Twestival. It’s been a very rewarding year being able to help with Jump Back Ball and Partners’ other initiatives and I’m really looking forward to how Twestival Cleveland comes together on March 24th.
Most of all, though, I’ve enjoyed meeting other members of Cleveland’s community who are as passionate and proud of this city as I am. I mentioned earlier how amazed I’ve been over the last twelve months to learn about what Cleveland has to offer. However, none of it would be possible if we didn’t have community members who strive to make it all work – from the Downtown Cleveland Alliance to groups like Emerging Chefs (and all of the restaurants in our thriving food scene!) and the Gordon Square Arts District. These are just a few of the organizations working to continue Cleveland’s revitalization.
I’m also happy to be a part of a network for Ohio bloggers. The Ohio Blogging Association has been a fantastic introduction to a vocal group of individuals throughout the state. From personal and fitness blogs to blogs about food, motherhood and Cleveland, it’s been a great experience getting to meet other people who feel strongly about their community and want to share this commitment. I’m looking forward to our next event on March 23rd when we head to the Cleveland Food Bank to volunteer for two hours.
Now that I’ve made it through my first year, what’s next for Clue Into Cleveland? Right now I’m focused on working with @KaseyCrabtree and @KimiKay on Twestival Cleveland. We hope you can join us on March 24th at AMP 150 from 5-9pm. Be sure to keep an eye on cleveland.twestival.com and @TwestivalCLE for today’s announcement about which local charity was selected to benefit from the event!
I’m also always on the lookout for new ways to get involved with the city and new experiences to write about. So, if you have any suggestions, let me know at clueintocleveland (at) gmail (dot) com or on Twitter @ADHicken.
When Scott and I were visiting Philly a couple months ago, we ran into some friends we hadn’t seen in a while. After a night at an old Irish bar we used to frequent, my friend Lou commented that I seemed really happy. Like honestly, truly happy. This made me pause for a moment because it’s not something I think about that often. However, as I was sitting there, I realized I had to agree with him.
I am happy – happy that Scott and I have found a home as rewarding as Cleveland and that I get to share it with all of you reading this. So thank you for accompanying me on this adventure so far and I hope you stick around as I find out what happens next!