Who cares what a bunch of millennials thinks about the Lima region’s future?
We all should.
Today The Lima News kicks off a new series, “Their Turn: Rising generation offers blueprint for Lima’s future.” We gave people under the age of 40 their opportunity to tell us what they envision as the regions strengths and weaknesses. Over the next few months, we’ll share their thoughts, along with our own research about the issues they mentioned.
The series started with a conversation reporter Josh Ellerbrock and I had a few months ago. He sat through some presentation purporting to have all the answers about what young people wanted out of this area.
Josh is part of the target demographic. The speaker’s answers didn’t match up with his experiences.
I’m admittedly not a part of the target demographic. I’m part of Generation X, that sandwich generation between millennials and baby boomers that fit into society by acting as much like baby boomers as we could, while maintaining our mopey sarcasm from the early 1990s. I’ll admit to buying into some millennial stereotypes too.
Josh wondered aloud if the speaker even talked to any young adults. I offered the simple suggestion we should get a group of them together and listen.
The groups met for about two and a half hours so far. I listened and tried to stay out of the conversation, aside from once when Omar Zehery called me an “oldie” toward the end of my 12-hour day. I reminded him I was a prematurely gray man only a few years older than he was (although admittedly outside the target audience).
I’d urge decision-makers to look at this information with an open mind. Most of their expectations aren’t unreasonable.
They want to live in a vibrant city. We all do. What makes it vibrant might be up for discussion, but we should make it a discussion and not a monologue.
One participant in a forum defined vibrancy this way: When he drives through an unfamiliar city, he sees a lot of foot traffic. It makes him curious about what’s interesting there. He’ll stop and explore it.
If we’re being honest, that doesn’t happen a lot here. And while no state route goes along Lima’s Main Street, we do have an active corridor with state Route 309 that offers the city this opportunity.
The younger generation needs to be heard. It also needs to listen.
Some people at the forum spoke about how there’s much more to do here than people realize. People shared their experiences about hearing about something interesting after it’s already happened. There are interesting things happening at the region’s libraries, museums, entertainment venues and more.
For this, they can somewhat blame themselves. There are 20-plus events on The Lima News’ community calendar, LimaOhio.com/calendar, most Fridays and Saturdays, plus an interesting assortment throughout the week. Every day, another dozen events come in to be added to the calendar. Last year, 25,504 people looked at the newspaper’s calendar webpage.
It’s by no means everything that’s happening either. We, too, hear about things that didn’t get submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion on this list. It’s a good start for seeing the range of things to do in this region, though.
I’ve heard people complain about “brain drain,” where the region’s best and most talented young people leave and never come back, for the past 20 years. Instead of complaining, we should be listening and working to make this a place where this young, talented group wants to return.