With a 1-6 starting record, the Cleveland Browns are in the middle of one of our worst seasons ever, and I am growing weary of logging into Facebook and seeing post after post of negative comments about how awful our city is. Yes, there are areas of improvement. And yes, I have often dreamed of moving south to warmer weather and slower times. But I love Northeast Ohio. Not just because I grew-up here and all of my family lives here, but because of what is has to offer. Optimism, Clevelanders, optimism.
#1) Insects & Animals
Scorpions, cobras, lions, tarantulas, alligators, gorillas, sharks. Northeast Ohio is home to none of these deadly wildlife creatures. There may be a very rare sighting of a coyote or bear but if our wildlife excitement revolves around the local deer jumping freely onto our highways or those nasty lake flies covering every surface of the outdoors in June, I’ll take it. As an Ohioan, I don’t need to remember how to care for a snake bite or play dead for a grizzly bear – skills I am thankful for not having to know. While I am a huge outdoors/nature fan, I am not into creepy crawlers and Ohio’s pretty mild wildlife makes camping and the outdoors much more safe and enjoyable.
Living in Northeast Ohio allows us to experience the best of what God has offered mother nature – the four seasons! The Cleveland area does receive our fair share of “lake affect” snow during the winter months and when it comes, I find myself asking why haven’t I moved yet. But we do enjoy four wonderful yet completely different seasons and the changing landscapes brings excitement throughout the year. I look forward to the upcoming season. What’s Christmas without snow? Or Halloween without the changing leaves? We also don’t experience as crazy life-threatening conditions other areas across the country do. I am always thankful when I see disaster after natural disaster reported on the news. We are not in an earthquake hot spot or tornado alley (although we have had a few tornadoes pay us visit) and we don’t get tsunamis or hurricanes or wildfires. So bring it on, snow.
#3) Cleveland Sports Teams
The drive, the fumble, the shot, the decision – the one thing Cleveland doesn’t have is a championship. Being a Cleveland fan is not for the faint of heart. It takes dedication to be a life-long Cleveland fan. We’ve had our fair share of great teams and awful teams, both of which have produce zero championships since the 60’s, which builds disappointment and cynicism in our town. But you better believe we have loyalty, guts and pride like no other city in the nation. You’ll hardly ever find a fair-weather Cleveland fan, and constantly defending our city’s teams to outsiders builds personal character and makes you a better resident of this great city.
#4) Our Great Lake
Yes, I know Lake Erie is not the ocean. We don’t have whale or dolphin spottings and you may never see your toes in the sand through the not-so-crystal clear water. But it’s big enough and beautiful enough for us all to enjoy. From local wineries, Cedar Point and jet skiing to the Lake Erie Islands, metroparks and our local beaches, Lake Erie is a great back-drop for vacation-like activities throughout our summer days. With Cleveland positioned right on the lake, it is a symbol of our great city and something to take advantage and be proud of. Plus, when the projected water shortage hits our nation, guess who’s in the best position for survival?
#5) The Mix of Cultures
You may not think of little old midwest Ohio as being a diverse place, but that simply isn’t the case. Cleveland was once a rich melting pot of immigrants and the city I live in is known as the “international city.” Northeast Ohio is full of rolling acres of farm land that produces great agriculture and our farmer markets are excellent. Our county fairs remind us the country lifestyle if alive and thriving. Yet a 20-minute drive puts us downtown to a bustling community of museums, arts, festivals, theater productions and concerts. Whatever lifestyle you choose to live – country, bohemian, cabin, Amish, urban, suburbia, house boat – there is a place for you here.
#6 ) The People
The Midwest boasts of its friendly, welcoming people and Ohio is no exception. We are hard working people, both blue & white collared families trying to make ends meet. With family- and God-centered values, I think Ohioans understand what is really important in life. We’re not snobby or pretentious and we don’t act superior because our sports team beat your sports team (an unlikely scenario). Our communities are inviting, warm and welcoming. We value friendship, education and loyalty. We enjoy life.
We may not have the Grand Canyon, Yosemite or Rocky Mountain National Park, but Ohio is a beautiful place that has its fair share of nature to enjoy. Hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, boating, skiing, camping – Ohio offers it all. Our local metroparks are high-class, providing thousands of acres of outdoor attractions to enjoy. They offer amazing programs, educational opportunities and special events for the entire family and really promote healthy, sustainable living. Our state parks are awesome. Some of my favorite memories growing up are from spending summers down in Hocking Hills, enjoying the hikes, caves and waterfalls. Any nature-enthusiasts has plenty to enjoy in every season of the year.
#8) The Swing State
So goes Ohio, so goes the nation. Every four years, Ohio gets loads of national spotlight for being such an important win in the presidential election that it’s hard not to feel special. Since 1944, Ohioans have sided with the winning candidate every single time except once – opting for Nixon over Kennedy in 1960. That is 68 years of getting something right. Who wouldn’t want to be a resident of Ohio, just for that reason? Eat that, Boston. You can win a championship, we’ll choose the next President of the country. Thanks.