Changing Gears is a public media project about the future of the industrial Midwest. Each week, reporters Dan Bobkoff in Cleveland, Niala Boodhoo in Chicago and Kate Davidson in Ann Arbor cover issues of interest to the Great Lakes region. Changing Gears also sponsors public events and conversations.
Name:Geoffrey Taylor Midwest Home: Sioux City, IA
New Home: Eddyville, OR
My knowledge of my hatred of and my love of the Midwest is informed by many years spent there.
My high school is now a vacant lot, where scabrous alley cats urinate in the dirt, and the cold wind blows old papers in the same spot where I had to study algebra. Yet my mind goes back to the room where Miss Edith Pollock taught me how to write.
I love Sioux City so much it hurts. I wish to hurt it back.
Would I move back to the Midwest? Not if they made me the governor of Iowa. Not for a million dollars in cash. Not at gunpoint. Not if I got to relive it all, and be a teenager again. But the memories of that place and time are precious.
The part that’s not so Super It’s Super Bowl weekend in Indianapolis. Cities that host the Super Bowl are usually hoping for a big economic boost. But there’s one kind of economic activity that Indiana officials are hoping to avoid: sex trafficking. Reporter Michael Puente from partner station WBEZ had a look at the city’s efforts last week.
Land for sale If you’re looking to buy some land, you might want to check in with Cleveland-based the Forest City real estate company. The company, which built its empire on land purchases, is now looking to unload more than 6,500 acres of land.
Call it the Timex of assembly plants. Chrysler’s Belvidere, Ill, factory takes a licking and keeps on ticking.
On Thursday, the carmaker said it will add 1,800 jobs at Belvidere, in northwestern Illinois, not far from the Quad Cities area. Some of the workers will make the new Dodge Dart, a revival of the 1970s nameplate, which Chrysler unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show. Others will produce the Jeep Liberty and Compass.
Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews is special to us at Changing Gears. He gave us his song “Right to Complain,” for the Changing Gears theme song. He’s doing his part to help kids in New Orleans, in the same way that people are trying to help out in the Midwest.
Now, Andrews has gotten the ultimate New Orleans honor. He’s the subject of this year’s Jazz and Heritage Festivalposter. It’s called Porch Song, and shows Andrews on the porch of his home in Treme. The artist is Terrance Osborne.
Andrews, 25, is joining a heralded group of musicians who’ve appeared on the poster, including Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint, Louis Prima, Jimmy Buffett, and Fats Domino.
We talked to him not long after Changing Gears went on the air in 2010. Hear his interview a few months ago with our friends Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis on Sound Opinions, from our partner station WBEZ.
Name: Stephany Wilkes Midwest Home: Michigan New Home: San Francisco, CA
I left Michigan in August 2001 after my employer, Borders.com, sold their online division to Amazon and laid off most of my colleagues. Though I was not among them, the writing was on the wall.
In addition, I didn’t find Midwest work culture particularly friendly or flexible. There is thinking that one should be grateful to have a job, any job, no matter how awful it might be.
I moved to San Francisco in 2007 where I work in data science and software development.
Being in San Francisco and the Bay Area has made me realize that geography does still matter. I am not sure how I would find the number of highly skilled, highly educated engineers I need in Michigan. I wouldn’t be able to conduct frequent meetings with venture capitalists on short notice. I’ve also fallen in love with the Bay Area’s “work to live” culture, its mild weather, the huge diversity of people and lifestyles, and other quality of life aspects.
700 jobs short Google is celebrating its fifth birthday in Ann Arbor. When the company first opened its Ann Arbor office in 2006, it was huge news for the state. The company said it would hire 1,000 workers in the first five years. The actual number is closer to 300. (We tried asking Google: “Where are the rest of our jobs?” The search didn’t turn up anything useful.)
The story of the economic transformation in the Midwest is a story about new jobs, new industries and economic growth.
But it’s also a story about how we regain our swagger.
And part of regaining our swagger is reminding ourselves what we love about where we live. There are now countless official PR and advertising campaigns aimed at doing just that. But there’s also a growing movement of young entrepreneurs who want us to wear our local pride. Wear it like a shirt.
But here in the Midwest, selling t-shirts with a local message isn’t just a business plan. It’s a transformative idea. Whenever you see one of these shirts on the street, you’re seeing a person that’s invested in the survival, growth and reinvention of our region. At the very least, they’re willing to invest $15 in it.
And wherever you live in the Midwest, there’s a now a t-shirt to show your local pride. Here’s a list of some of the t-shirt companies we’ve found: