Two corporals of the V-22 Osprey mentioned that their two friends were killed in a crash in Morocco back in April. They were so “that’s just the way of the world” about it. The airplane helicopter hybrid has for years been criticized for over the top costs.
“I’ve been doing this stuff for about four years now,” said the first flight crew member.
“If you don’t mind me asking, how old are you?” asked Chris delicately.
“Twenty-two. Yea, pretty much joined after my first year of college.”
After talking for another fifteen minutes and seeing the sun go down from the East Ninth Pier, adjacent to the obscure looking Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame and Cleveland’s skyline. The clouds covered the horizon and caused the sun to look as if it were bleeding into Lake Erie. The Marines played taps and lowered the flag while most of the people stood in upright postures playing along by saluting during the ceremony. Perhaps they were all veterans. The crowds morphed into a music festival type of extravaganza during their invasion of Burke Lakefront Airport exercise. Armored personnel carriers came up from Lake Erie and a hundred or so Marines sprinted out of their lowering ramps into the brush of the vacant looking airport. There they shot off green smoke proceeding by loud popping blanks. After a few minutes and for the rest of the show, various pieces of hardware dropped Marines, picked them up, and flew in many formations, shaking the grounds with the sound of their powerful Rolls Royce engines.
Most of the people likely hit the road after the sea, water, and air assault. Still, the casino grabbed many handfuls and the Indians were playing the Pirates on the other side of town. Cleveland was alive and well, but it didn’t take long for most of the excitement to die down. The Marines had no trouble getting people to buy them drinks that evening in the bars. Most Clevelanders, however, retreated to their respective suburbs for the peace of the green grassed yards and long couches to stretch out on. The amount of relaxation and even minor isolation leaves many people seeking for happiness in the strangest ways. So many restaurants and shopping villages, driving all over the place, and only enjoying home when people come to visit.
Take Avon Lake, Ohio for example. About 25,000 people inhabit the lakeside town and collectively hold tens of millions in assets. What is the community like? This usual question by new residents is never accurate. There is a lot of idealism in the mission statements of towns or their philosophy on what it means to be a community. However, Avon Lake is not alone. Most suburbs in America follow the same restrained American Dream policy insulated from most of the world’s realities. It is without a doubt the priority when politicians talk about maintaining the American Way of Life. The stability beneath is what the high demand of it all is about. People able to work anywhere in the world, but stay within an artificial tribe. On the weekends during the autumn months, high school football gets people up in a rush. Other than that, it is rare that all of Avon Lake would ever be in one place. Times are changing though and with the bicentennial on the horizon, there has been talk of massive development along the shoreline. Rumors have surfaced from various dinner party conversations and idealistic drunken conversations around campfires. Nearly all the land along the lake is residential, with a few open areas with small beaches or simple boardwalk access. Word came few weeks ago that the very large Pink Floyd Animals looking coal power plant will be closing in April 2015. What then? One side hopes to restore the lease with another company, another want to have it destroyed and turned to residential or other community land. In between those two arguments, rational people scratch their heads as to why something grand could not take its place.
Cleveland is expanding and will continue to do so, according to many reports. One group of young college grads who have returned to temporarily live with parents have been talking about developing it into the grand place of the midwest. Their high hopes may be way out of the range of spending risk the city or investors are willing to make. The plan would take the entire land around the coal power plant and turn it into a community resort and apartments. Parts of the plant would naturally have to be destroyed, but to benefit off the industrial architecture for shops and apartment lofts, will be renovated and refurbished. Initial costs rise into the millions, but the payoff may be extraordinary in the long run and turn Avon Lake into the town of innovation and forward thinking. Along with commercial development, the group hopes to make a deal with the school district to open up some of the new rooms as a conference center and classrooms. It will truly be a community center and as people grow accustomed to it, treat it as if it were their own. The green space in the area will be cultivated into community gardens. Coffee shops will reopen and the already developed but under utilized Avon Lake plaza will return to life. All it will take is a little push by those who know how to get things done. Let’s do something grand and see what happens next. Imagine the possibilities. Plus, it will be fun.
The returned Avon Lakers do not have high expectations to go along with their hopes. If college and all the wasted money on that venture was the best that many people can come up with, then an idea of infrastructural development and change may be too much to handle. They have been sharing stories of growing up around campfires, but when it comes down to getting a job, they all expect to move out of Avon Lake. Why? Because there is just not a whole lot worth hanging around with. Like the Marines in Cleveland, these young people need to know there is a community behind them and ready to help them reach their potential and go through with their plans, or at least be listened to enough for the project to commence. Those Shoremen.