It’s something that my husband and I noticed when we first moved here 12 years ago. The tendency of some Erie-ites to badmouth this city. Or make fun of it–in a mean way.
Cities like ours, rust belt cities, are working hard to improve their self images. Because it has to start with the city, first, for others to take notice. Every city has a vibe, a pulse. I think it’s a resonance of the collective opinion of its residents. When you visit cities with a healthy self image, you can feel it. It’s reflective in the way people walk the streets and go about their business; how you’re treated when you walk in a shop or a restaurant; the general feeling of optimism or pessimism that hangs in the air. Spend some real time in Pittsburgh–you’ll see what I mean.
It’s baffled me as to why Erie doesn’t exude that type of confidence–especially with abundance of beauty that surrounds us, including the limitless natural resources, the historic architecture of manufacturing days gone by, and the palpable efforts to revitalize and invigorate the commerce and economy. Whether you agree or disagree with those efforts, the truth is they emit a healthy pulse that we live in a thriving small city that earns other’s envy.
I give you Lake Erie. When we moved here, we were, and still are, continually amazed–and not in a good way–at how routinely people who’ve lived here all their lives take it for granted. It’s almost as if they cease to see it all. And that’s more than a shame. I didn’t find this attitude when I lived in Boulder, Colorado, which is located at the foothills of the rockies. Residents routinely awed at their beauty and spent much of their free time exploring them. Not so here. It’s as if the lake doesn’t exist.
Perhaps therein lies part of the reason for this inferiority complex. Those who denigrate Erie haven’t lived anywhere else. There’s nothing to compare it to, so why not just grouse about what’s wrong rather than to truly see what’s right.
I believe Erie deserves to feel great about itself, problems and all. But we need a healthy self esteem, first. If Pittsburgh can tranform itself, no reason we can’t, too.