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Manhattan meal. It is babushka and snakeskin boots. It is babushka in snakeskin
boots. It is wear: old wood and steel and vacancy. It is contradiction, conflict, and
standing resiliency. But most centrally, Rust Belt Chic is about home, or that
perpetual inner fire longing to be comfortable in one’s own skin and one’s
community. This longing is less about regressing to the past than it is finding a
future through history. (Piiparinen & Trubek, 2012)
It is hardscrabble cities like Cleveland, Detroit, and Pittsburgh that are making a comeback
not because they are imitating other popular destinations but because they are “offering the
promise of a better (cheaper) quality of life and yes, the ironic pleasures of bowling,
pierogies, and polka Rust Belt cites truly have become ‘chic,’” according to writer
Douglas Trattner (http://www.freshwatercleveland.com/features/rustbeltchic060712.aspx).
Cleveland is an edgy city where creativity is thriving precisely because it lacks pretense, at
times self-deprecating, and is now enjoying entrepreneurial buzz because of reverse-
migration trend of “brain gain” as “talented, educated, creative people are no longer fleeing
the region they’re flocking to it, according to an article in Details magazine in April 2012
(http://www.details.com/culture-trends/critical-eye/201204/rust-belt-revival-brain-gain-
think-tank). A video segment on MSNBC (March 12, 2012), with writer Jesse Ashlock from
Details magazine, discussing the Rust Belt revival such as this design company in
Cleveland called, “A Piece of Cleveland” that is upcycling the old growth timber, glass, and
metal in homes that are about to be demolished and turning into sellable architectural
pieces. Phillip Cooley, a model who returned to Detroit, to co-found a BBQ joint “Slows
Barbeque” and then started created a shared work area, costing 10 cents per square foot
with the only stipulation that the tenants teach their craft to the community. A new game
changer is the idea that creativity is not just about being in the right place but how we
make something happen where we are.
The other project participants in the New York City and surrounding Hudson Valley area
include Kate Farrell, former freelance Olympic television and Super Bowl producer, and
now is a full-time executive producer for WE-tv; Sheryl White, copywriter for major national
accounts; and Bill Cavanaugh, audio engineer for the History Channel, M-TV, VHI, Nova,
Discovery, etc. Carol E. Beck, from Atlanta, is an international videographer who works for
major national projects including Mercedes Benz, Panasonic, and is involved with the
Emory-Tibet Partnership, which is collaboration between Emory University and several
Tibetan institutions. Although this group lives in cities more amenable to independent
media work, they share similar issues and concerns about securing and getting paid for
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