Friday, April 24, 2009

A Great De-Constructive Idea for Youngstown

I sometimes lovingly refer to Youngstown as "the land that time forgot." Driving across some areas of the city and its suburbs, it seems as though the place lies in wait for the steel mills to reemerge.

But right now Youngstown wants to move on in a very positive way. "Deconstruction" promises to remove urban blight through re-use and recycle methods.

A public meeting was held last night in Youngstown with national deconstruction expert David Bennink, who is helping the city with this project. Bennink explained how rather than totally demolishing a home, deconstruction seeks to salvage reusable materials. This of course has a popular green element to it, but deconstruction would have many other positive effects in Youngstown. On his blog, Youngstown Renaissance, Tyler S. Clark Can lists some of the benefits of deconstruction:

* Provides 20 times more jobs than demolition
* Provides skills for workers they can parlay into future jobs
* Keeps Youngstown's legacy of homes at home (instead of shipping it away to West Virginia, et. al.)
* Value-added markets can be created from waste materials

No one would argue that there are many houses around Youngstown that are abandoned and beyond repair, creating an unfortunate eyesore in what is still a welcoming, tight-knit community. For years, residents have asked why such homes haven't been torn down. Now there is an alternative to that, one that removes the blight and in a very productive and potentially lucrative way.

This makes total sense for Youngstown, and I applaud the city's forward thinking! Unfortunately, the public meeting with Mr. Bennink drew only about 50 people, according to an article on Such a great opportunity should lure more residents out of their homes to learn how Youngstown is going to turn lemons into lemonade. Hopefully, the City of Youngstown will construct a giant "lemonade stand" in the form of marketing and advertising to let everyone in and around the city understand what good things deconstruction can bring to the Mahoning Valley.