I grew up on the other side of the Hudson River from New York City. Although it was the ‘burbs, when you are less than 5 miles away from one of the largest cities in the world, you become a city girl. I could get to the Empire State Building faster than you can get from Beachwood to Westlake. And now I live 30 miles south of Downtown Cleveland and 20 miles west of Akron in the small town of Medina.
So when I moved to Northeast Ohio and settled into quaint Medina over 10 years ago, I often got the question, “What brought you to Cleveland?”. This question was tinged with surprise and sympathy. Cleveland had not hit its stride back in 2004, so I often asked myself the same question. The answer I offered was “my husband was transferred here, so we followed the opportunity”.
My move to Northeast Ohio, was the last leg of quite a few moves for my husband and me. We met in New Jersey, moved to Dallas, moved to the British Virgin Islands (yes, I left the Caribbean), and moved back to Dallas, then to Nebraska before landing in Ohio.
When I arrived here in 2004, I didn’t know the Eastside from the Westside or The Gund Arena from Jacobs Field. All I was concerned about was living in a community that offered safety and great schools for my then 2 and 5 year old girls.
So I knew even less about Medina, which I thought everyone was mispronouncing. I kept asking isn’t it “Me-deena” not “Muh-dina”?
True to the stereotyping of Midwesterners, I found Medina to be a caring and civic-minded community. That was a huge plus, which made up for the fact that I had to drive 15 minutes to Fairlawn or 25 minutes to Strongsville for a Starbucks.
Thanks to Medina’s caring nature, no surprise there were many ways for me to plug in and get connected. As a parent, the most obvious place to start volunteering was the schools. Thanks to my corporate MBA background, I quickly realized that I was a bit overbearing for the PTO. So I found opportunities to help with district wide matters, such as school tax campaigns and the district’s foundation organization.
I have moved on from school volunteering to broader based economic development efforts for Medina, through such organizations as the Medina County Economic Development Corporation and Main Street Medina. There is a broad spectrum of philanthropic and community based organizations that allow transplants, and long-time residents, to connect and give back.
Over the last 10 years while I was making Medina my new home, Cleveland and the entire region transformed into a happening place to work and live. Cleveland’s renaissance has positively impacted many of the surrounding communities, including suburbs such as Medina.
Our once partially occupied historic square is booming and bustling with boutiques, an array of dining options and family-friendly destinations. For instance, Medina is home to Castle Noel, America’s Largest Indoor Christmas Entertainment Attraction, which has a life-sized replica of the slide from the movie A Christmas Story. We even have two Starbucks – but I often choose to support locally owned coffee shops.
Although I came to the area as a lukewarm “trailing spouse” for my husband’s job, there is no way I could have predicted the turn around and growth of this region. So when I am asked, “Why Cleveland”, my response is “Why not Cleveland, it’s hot and happening!”