Saturday, July 30, 2011

NPR's State of the Re:Union Comes to Visit

Lake Erie at Mentor Headlands
A few weeks ago, my friend Diane Hoeptner sends me a link from Craigslist and says, "you ought to do this." "This" was an invitation from National Public Radio's State of the Re:Union show asking listeners from particular cities across the country to write a letter expressing their thoughts about their hometown or region. Sure, I'll give it a go, I said. 

Northeast Ohio has always been my home.  Nothing about living here is mediocre.  We roast in the summer and freeze in the winter.  In autumn, we revel in the bursting foliage, and in the spring?  Well, I count down the cold, cloud-covered days until I can get to the lake again, gaining hope as I see, finally, the leaf buds appear in the trees, the little wildflowers pop through the muddy grass.  When we're poor, we're poor (rated the poorest big city in the US in 2004), and yet we have treasures right here, among and within us, that truly can't be measured.

And so I sent in my Dear Cleveland letter to State of the Re:Union, and about a week later I received an email from its senior producer, Tina Antolini, saying that they'd be in Cleveland soon and they'd like me to read my letter for the program.  Below is that letter, recorded for them on July 25th.  It should be posted on their website ( as an audio file in mid September, and may be incorporated into their broadcast, also to be aired around the same time.  I'll keep you informed!   
Dear Cleveland,

You're a beauty.  A beauty that, yes, has been abandoned by many in search of greener pastures and thicker wallets.  Nevertheless, you persevere -- you're a hard-working, gritty town, proud and tough.

Indeed, you're a tough city along a rough lake.  But you're not afraid to live with a moody Lake Erie, enduring her icy storms and Lake Effect howlings like a  husband endures a half-mad woman with PMS during a full moon.  You know she'll come around, in her time.  And she does, offering her cool tranquility during a summer's heat wave, providing a perfect place to watch the sun slip quietly below her waters, or slide down, raging, after lighting the clouds afire with pinks, oranges, and purples.

A while ago, you had enough of the Cleveland jokes.  True, you're among the poorest cities in the nation.  But, remember, you birthed rock-n-roll -- you've got soul.  And lately you have dug down deep to take pride in what other, more genteel people could already see.  Home to an thriving arts culture, your jewels include the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra, The Cleveland Museum of Art, The Museum of Contemporary Art, University Circle, The Bonfoey Gallery, the Rock Hall of Fame, Playhouse Square, Karamu House, and a vibrant local art scene in neighborhoods like Tremont, Little Italy, Lakewood, and Waterloo.  

Art that moves the spirit is often born of pain and struggle.  Thank you, Cleveland, for offering so much that inspires my own artist’s heart.  Just as you do, I continue on. 

Pat Washington


Diane Hoeptner (hep-ner) said...

Pat: I am soooooooooo proud of you!! You wrote that elegant letter in less than an afternoon--When I found out NPR was sending out an audio crew to record you reading it, oh, well, it was just TOOOO exciting.'s a bit of recognition & validation that you deserve. Now, I just hope they'll air it on the radio!!!

Pat Washington said...

And where would I be without you, Di? Thanks for the suggestion, and for your support!

Tim DeMarco said...

Great letter Pat. Cleveland is an awesome city. Many wonderful places and great people.

Pat Washington said...

Thank you Tim. Good of you to stop by!