10 Things You Need to Learn About Cleveland Before the 2016 Republican National Convention

4 years ago

Forget everything you've heard or read since the GOP announced Cleveland, Ohio as the host city for its 2016 Republican National Convention. As an Atlantic seaboard snob who has now lived longer in Cleveland than anywhere else (26-plus years), and couldn't be happier about it, here's where you need to start your online education about Cleveland - and then share it.

Cleveland skyline from the flats, Image Credit: Erik Drost via Flickr

10 Things You Need to Learn About Cleveland

1 and 2: The Best Cleveland Top Ten Things List and The City Club of Cleveland

Dan Moulthrop, the author of Cleveland: 10 Things Politico Should Know, is CEO of The City Club of Cleveland. Through his programming and presence, he's actively raising the visibility of the individual, institutional and organizational talent and success in our midst.  The City Club is "...the nation's oldest continuous independent free speech forum in the country." And my favorite footnote about that? In 2003, Justice Antonin Scalia received an award for being a free speech champion at an event that was closed to the media. Boo-yah.

3. NBC's Meet the Press featurette: "Cleveland is forgiving"

This two minute forty second video report balances reality with hope. Given that ABC's George Stephanopoulos grew up outside Cleveland (and graduated from my kids' high school), we might have expected him to do a bit more than just name Cleveland as "Big Winner of the Week." But whatevs. Thank you, Kevin Tibbles.

4. Birthplace of the original Meet the Bloggers

Before blogs got any respect from the rest of the media world - or became required of the journalists in the rest of the media world, Ohio's political bloggers were numerous and prolific. I know, because it's the pack I ran with. Meet the Bloggers convened between 150-200 interviews between 2004 and 2008. And although that forum no longer exists, many of these bloggers have gone on to run for office, be in office, or help others win elected office in a variety of ways. Two of the three founders still live in Cleveland, and blog.

5. Keeping it real

In the last few years, Cleveland has been profiled for all kinds of reasons, including but not limited to: our theater hub, blight, the density of culture and arts in University Circle, its beauty (yes, its beauty). And while that is all real, there's another level at which we - you - have got to keep it real. Because Cleveland is not about pretenses.

Angie Schmitt does a great job of this in, "LeBron James Complicates Cleveland's Comeback Story," featured this week in Good magazine. Other local sources to check out for keeping it real: Roldo Bartimole at the Cleveland Leader (sharp-edged longtime sage), Mansfield Frazier at WTAM (and occasionally CoolCleveland.com), Rustwire, and Belt Magazine.

6. TedxCLE presenters reflect our fabric

You can browse all the videos here. But please check out the founders of TedxCLE, Halle Bram Kogelschatz and Eric Kogelschatz, while you're at it. The bridges they've been building reflect several vibrant sections of the fabric that continues to be repaired, reconstructed and added to in this old city - a fabric that's gained an awful lot of attention thanks to the individuals being threaded together to create and sustain it.

7. Cleveland Food = Coma

I don't even know where to begin but let's start with our favorite Cleveland food blogger, Chef's Widow aka Amelia Sawyer aka wife of chef Jonathon Sawyer. We've also got Michael Symon, as most people know, and too many more to name. Cleveland Independents and Edible Cleveland are excellent sources for all things local food establishments. Even Roll Call's gossip blog put out a special foodie edition to preview the RNC 2016 options. You will have options - plenty of options.

8. Newsflash: Lake Erie, its beaches and the Cuyahoga River are not burning

None of them are burning - none. So let's just get that out of the way. In fact, all of them gleam and the city itself almost always looks its best when you are viewing it from the water - although even that is changing. So here are some sources to get you started: we've got a national park that encompasses the Cuyahoga River, we've got incredible Metroparks, and thriving boating and rowing culture.

9. Pro sports will be on hiatus

Depending on how LeBron James the Cleveland Cavaliers do in 2015-2016, and which dates the RNC picks, there might be some dalliance in scheduling conflicts, but owner Dan Gilbert has already said that the Quicken Loans Arena will be available for the RNC. As for the major league baseball schedule, it's expected that the Cleveland Indians will be away. And, for one perspective on the Cleveland Indians mascot-logo-name controversy, Connie Schultz does a nice job touching on most of the sentiments the issues raise in a June 2014 column. Definitely a To Be Continued matter that might see the team sporting a different image.

10. Friendliest city you may ever encounter

Inane lists of what not to miss, and what to miss, will be coming our way over the next two years. But so far one thing I've yet to see on any litany is a remark about how friendly people here are. It's the reason I chose to move here.

My first visit to Cleveland happened on the most typical grey winter day and I got lost on an insufferably ordinary, seemingly endless east-west thoroughfare. I couldn't get over how flat it was (compared to New Haven, CT - which isn't exactly mountaneous) and how many American cars there were. But everyone was so.nice. Uniquely and noticeably. And this is something that you still hear people say.

On top of that, every friend and relative I've had visit me here over the last 25 years has loved it here. Sure, to visit. Sure, because I put on good parties. But ultimately, it's been the city and the region that's done the selling.

Now, if you ask me, the real gold ring for convention selections will always belong to BlogHer. So I'm not writing up this primer for nothing. But either way - I'll be leaving the light on and the fridge stocked in June and July of 2016. I look forward to hosting some of you.


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