Sunday, June 24, 2007

The State of YP Groups

After thinking about recent articles and talk about YP organizations and the general movement to attract more YP's to Cincinnati, I'm going to issue my take on the state of the Cincinnati YP World. In general, the state is good. We are making progress to attract new people by establishing the life and culture that will attract new people to Cincinnati. That positive has little to do with the efforts of YP organizations, however. I find the YP world has many problems. Here is a list:
  1. There are just too many YP organizations. You can't walk 5 feet downtown without stumbling on someone trying to start a YP outreach group for their organization.
  2. YP outreach groups, those tied to a parent organization, are not really about attracting new YPs to the city, they are about selling tickets, memberships, or gaining donations to the parent organization. There is nothing wrong with this, but these groups shouldn't be confused with efforts to promote the city.
  3. The umbrella type YP groups tend to try do too much, they try to be everything to everyone, instead of focusing on achievable goals.
  4. When you look at who runs the YP groups and who goes to the events they sponsor, you see the same people and same names. The groups tend to get cliquish when the same people all know each other and fail to be open to new people, especially those new to town.
  5. Much of the YP effort centers around talking. Sounding Sessions sound like they have a purpose, but they are about appearance, not about actions. The Mayor's YP Kitchen Cabinet and the Chamber's Bold Fusion I believe have been about talking, not about taking action. If you are all talk, then you are going to end up talking about acting, not acting.
  6. For a significant number of participants, the YP group is self serving. It is a resume filler, a means to help gain a promotion at work, a way to impress others, or just a way to meet people and get laid.
  7. There is a clear disconnect between Native Cincinnatians and the rest of us. The YP movement has failed to address the large number of YPs who grew up here and live in the suburbs. They complain about it sucking here because they don't know what their city has too offer and only live in the stale burbs. This is an underlying problem that if addressed would improve not only the city, but the lives of those YPs living in the burbs. They might wake up and understand that that the burbs are about being boring. If you don't want a boring life, then you have to move to the urban core.
  8. Finally, the YP efforts have been focusing on and programming to the affluent. Much like the efforts to bring residents Downtown, all of the push has been to get the 30 year old lawyer making six figures. We don't have a ton of people like that. We instead have many middle class people who are college educated and are starving for culture. When you can't afford to live in the city, then you are pricing out the masses you need to make the city more vibrant. Similarly, if you really think an average Jane or Joe can shell-out $35 every week for a YP event, then you really have no concept of wealth.
I'm harsh on the efforts of YP mostly because I have been vastly disappointed with what has been going on and what has failed to occur. The YP effort has not lived up to the great potential is possesses. With development coming together in Downtown and OTR, the opportunities are there but are being missed. The only solution I see is for groups to focus on small goals and for those with the ear of the media to stop hogging the spotlight for themselves without really doing anything worthwhile. Breakdown the Native Cincinnatian social walls and help them understand they live in a cool city, but don't know it.

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