Myth Informed

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    Myth #1: There’s No Diversity in Cincinnati

    If you’re still believing this myth, you probably missed our March 24 “Queen City Culture” issue, which featured both the well-established and growing diversity in the Tri-State. More than 50 countries are represented in the overall makeup of the Queen City’s population. This results in an array of events and activities with influences from many cultures around the world.

    0208GIBBERMAN.gif First-time transplants are always surprised by the region’s diversity and cultural secrets. “I love the fact that you can cross the river and be in a different state with a very different culture,” Sarah Simpson of Mt. Adams shared with the Cincinnati USA City Guide 2008, a supplement to Cincinnati Magazine.

    Our Tri-State boasts a wide variety and many diverse events So, when you’re feeling like globetrotting, check out these events, without jet setting out of town.

    Myth #2: The Young People are Still Leaving in Droves

    There’s an assumption, a myth if you will, that young professionals (YPs) — those born between 1965-1982 — are making a mass exodus out of Cincinnati for greener professional and lifestyle pastures. But as with any stereotype or myth, there’s a grain of undeniable truth, somewhere. Back in the 1990s, more than 7,200 people born between 1966 and 1975 did leave Hamilton County, a 6 percent loss, according to an analysis of Census data by The Cincinnati Enquirer; Hamilton lost more young professionals than any other urban county in the Midwest.

    But that was then and today is now.

    According to Forbes, the Queen City actually ranked 18th on the magazine’s 2007 “Best Cities for Young Professionals” list, nationwide. Why the Cincy-appeal? Well, according to the article, the ‘Nati offers the right mix of what every young-blooded, ambitious, over achiever desires: “a combination of quality companies, plus good starting salaries and affordable living.” Forbes also ranked Cincinnati 15th for the number of elite graduates moving town, meaning that other young people from different cities are considering and giving Cincinnati a shot, rather than bigger cities such as New York and Chicago.

    And the city is doing everything in its power to make sure it keeps climbing that Forbes‘ list and the list of YPs everywhere. Soapbox, a weekly-email newsletter chock full of positive and uplifting coverage of the region, was designed specifically for local employers seeking to lure elusive YPs to their doorstep. Organizations such as Give Back Cincinnati and The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber‘s HYPE: Harnessing Young Professional Energy, were founded with YPs on the brain and to ensure that they have a reason and purpose to stay in and not leave Cincinnati.

    Myth #3: Cincinnati is Nasty

    We’ve all heard the slang “nasty ‘Nati” thrown around by the younger generation in describing Cincinnati, and though it’s hard to tell exactly where this self-deprecating moniker originated, one thing’s for sure: Cincinnati is in fact, far from being nasty.

    In a sense of ironic reality, the Queen City has become infamous for it’s aversion for anything remotely perceived as nasty. Exhibit A: The highly publicized and controversial legal hoopla surrounding photographer Robert Mapplethorpe‘s installation of “The Perfect Moment” — in particular, seven black and white photographs depicting explicit homosexual and questionable child pornography resulted in the unsuccessful prosecution of the Contemporary Arts Center of Cincinnati and its director, Dennis Barrie, on charges of “pandering obscenity.”


    Exhibit B: Just today (Monday, June 9), Citizens for Community Values (CCV) — a coalition that promotes, according to its Web site, “Judeo-Christian moral values and attempts to reduce destructive behaviors contrary to those values” — held a press conference at City Hall downtown to publicly ask CityBeat to voluntarily stop accepting and advertising sexually-oriented personal ads in both its print and online editions. CCV would like CityBeat to stop running the ads within two weeks. 0608TRINA.gif



    CCV said the local law enforcement agencies, including those in Hamilton County, have made arrests after calling the phone numbers in the ads and tracing them to illegal massage parlors.

    “We have 28 documented cases where by the Sheriff and Cincinnati Police Department have filed charges against individuals who have used and CityBeat newspapers. So, 28 charges we have regarding that, seven this year. This is information that we have documented,” said CCV member, Charlie Winburn.


    Citybeat’s response? “Apparently today is “Let’s Gang Up on CityBeat” Day in Cincinnati. Just about every public official listed in today’s Enquirer article as being a leader of this “coalition led by Citizens for Community Values” has been the subject of critical news articles, columns and editorials in CityBeat — one of our most important duties is to report on the actions of public officials. For years Citizens for Community Values has actively tried to interfere with our business operations by working to get distribution points to drop CityBeat.

    We make decisions about our business every day and on our own terms. We won’t be bullied or intimidated by any outside force that thinks they can make those decisions for us,” John Fox, Editor/Co-Publisher and Dan Bockrath, General Manager/Co-Publisher, signed in a released statement. It’ll be interesting to see how this one pans out.


    The Mapplethorpe fiasco, coupled with the fact that there is not a single X-rated theater, topless bar or massage parlor inside the city limits and actions by groups like the CCV, Cincinnati has made a name for itself as a “porn-busting town”: Censornati.

    Myth #4: Cincinnati Hasn’t Put Itself on the Map

    According to the article “The Birthplace of Branding,” in the Cincinnati USA 2008 City Guide, many people don’t even realize that many of the household products that are so dear and near to their heart, were branded right here in lil’ ole Cincinnati.


    “The quick factoid is that you cannot walk down the grocery aisle in any place in the world without seeing a product that’s branded in Cincinnati,” says Doug Moorman, vice president for economic development at the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, in the article. “That ranges from Kentucky Fried Chicken to Valvoline to Pampers and Jif…almost any consumer product imaginable is branded, managed, refreshed and kept current by people working in the Cincinnati USA region.”

    Another indication that the Queen City has earned its gold star on the proverbial global map is the decision of Swedish-furniture-retailer-conglomerate IKEA choosing West Chester, Ohio as the location for opening its 34th store in North America. Joseph Roth, IKEA’s director of expansion for North America, said he started analyzing Ohio in 2004 and studied both Cleveland and Columbus before settling on the up-and-coming West Chester suburb.

    Myth #5: Over-the-Rhine is Still Overrun with Drug Dealers and Hooligans

    During the 19th century, Over-the-Rhine (OTR) was one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the Midwest. As the center of German life in Cincinnati, the population of the district reached 45,000. However, during the later 19th and early 20th centuries, German-Americans began abandoning their ethnic enclave, amid a more general trend of slowing European immigration. Over time, this once-dense area became abandoned and run-down.

    In fact, if you ever want to get a sense of this era in OTR, rent the movie “Traffic.” According to IMDb, writer Stephen Gaghan originally planned to set the Wakefield family storylines in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. During his research, he determined that Cincinnati’s bad neighborhoods (i.e., OTR) looked worse than Louisville’s and would serve the finished film better, so he moved the Wakefields’ stories to Ohio.

    Main St. was the only well-traveled area in OTR during this time, known for its long line of popular watering holes. But on April 7, 2001, riots broke out downtown, and they ensued for three days before the city was able to contain the confusion. The once vibrant Main St. bar scene suffered a slow death, as many Cincinnatians grew increasingly fearful of OTR.

    But all that has changed thanks to the courageous and persistent like-minded residents, business owners, developers and stakeholders who refused to let a neighborhood — or a movie define them or their city. Organizations such as iRhine and The Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce are taking on responsibilities and making sure change happens, “Cincinnati’s greatest asset lies in the heart of our beautiful city. Other towns have stadiums and amusement parks, but they are not the ‘Paris of America.’ We must work together to revitalize Over-the-Rhine. From galleries and shop owners, to bakeries and grocery stores, let’s make it safe, clean and profitable for everyone. This is the future of Cincinnati, and it is time that the citizens take responsibility for their community,” states Ran Mullins, iRhine’s founder and CEO/Creative Director of Metaphor Studio, LLC. Businesses such as the Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, OTR Brewery District and The Gateway Quarter also have had a tremendous and heavy hand in birthing a revitalized OTR.

    According to the OTR Chamber, District One, which includes Over-the-Rhine, West End and downtown, has had 18 consecutive months of decline in crime. Between 2007 and 2006, crime was down 25 percent. Between 2007 and 2002, crime has nose-dived 41 percent. In fact, 2007 crime was lower in this area than in 2000. District One now has the lowest crime statistics of Cincinnati’s five districts.

    Recently, OTR made pop-culture and media headlines — and not to mention a local frenzy — when popular alternative rock band, 3 Doors Down chose Cincinnati as the location backdrop for their “It’s Not My Time” music video. When asked why the Queen City was picked, the group said they chose Cincinnati because it has a big city look and a big city feel, without the big city red tape for production purposes. Director Shaun Silva also loves the “look of Cincinnati” and claims that it has a very diverse look and feel to it. In addition to OTR, shots were filmed on Fountain Square, at Ault Park and the Eight Street viaduct. Click here to see the video in its entirety and see if you can spot the familiar Cincy spots!


    Editor’s note: Update! We were just alerted by a Cincy Chic reader that she, Amanda Bentley — a model/actress and full-time interior designer who specializes in custom hardwood floor design is featured as the mom driving the car in the 3 Doors Down video and she just wanted to let everyone know that, “…it might be cool for all to know the actress in the video isn’t from L.A. but a native Cincinnatian!” Way to go Amanda and thanks for letting us know!


    So, nowadays, instead of the lowered tones of shame and embarrassment, Mullins says that new mantra will be, “‘I live in Over-the-Rhine, I work in Over-the-Rhine, I eat in Over-the-Rhine, etc…I Rhine!'”

    Myth #6: Cincinnati is Always 20 Years Behind the Times

    Another myth floating around the Cincinnati stratosphere is a remark that Mark Twain once made: “When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it’s always 20 years behind the times.”

    Some may argue that this myth is one we can’t completely refute, as demonstrated by the continuously delayed Streetcar and The Banks initiatives, however, Cincinnati is taking strong stances on certain things, such as BODIES: The Exhibition.

    Despite the controversy and questions regarding the origins of the bodies — critics and human-rights watchdog groups claim that not only do the bodies come from China, a country with a long history of human-rights abuses, but the people whose bodies are used, did not give permission for their bodies to be put on display, for either medical, educational or profitable use Cincinnati agreed to be one of only eighteen cities in the world to host the exhibit. Other cities include Madrid, Las Vegas, New York and Vienna, just to name a few.

    According to Douglass W. McDonald president and CEO of The Cincinnati Museum where the exhibit is displayed it was an important and delicate decision in not backing down on what he thought was best for the city, “The Cincinnati Museum Center remains confident in its decision to bring Bodies…The Exhibition to the community. We have always believed such an exhibition – involving real human bodies – must be handled with sensitivity and consideration, which is why we convened an ethics panel to review information about all of the different “body” exhibits and vendors, and all of the issues surrounding this type of exhibit, including the specimens’ origin. This panel, including area doctors, university professors, philosophers, theologians, and legal experts, along with Museum Center leadership unanimously agreed it was important to present this extraordinary educational experience to the Cincinnati region.

    After reviewing the information presented in the 20/20 story, we have not changed our position, although we have taken additional steps to ensure we are continuing to handle this exhibition in the utmost responsible manner,” McDonald stated in a press release on the Museum’s Web site.

    It’s a decision that, on the whole, Cincinnatians are glad was made, “We have been encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive response from the community and visitors who have been through the exhibition. These visitors thank us for offering them a powerful and unsurpassed learning opportunity,” McDonald reports.

    Just an example that Cincinnati and Cincinnatians aren’t behind the times.

    Myth #7: There’s No Talent in Cincinnati

    Whoever came up with this myth is obviously a ‘Nati-Debbie-Downer. In reality, Cincinnati is a breeding ground for innovative and progressive talent. In particular, local women are forging their way to the head of the class and everyone is taking notice.

    The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber is one organization that took notice and has been proudly showcasing local women through their WE Celebrate awards event. The event honors women and women-owned businesses for their achievement, innovation, social responsibility and mentoring and provides women business owners the chance to come together with others who know what it’s like to honor the sacrifices and successes that all women been through. “The breadth and depth of talent among greater Cincinnati’s business women is amazing. When we shine a spotlight on these successful women, their stories and learnings empower other women to aspire to their level of success,” says Vanessa Freytag, executive director, Women’s Fund, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation WE Celebrate.
    Cincy Chic and our very own Amy Storer was awarded the distinction of the WE Celebrate “Best New Product or Service of the Year.” Click here to see a list of the other women winners who have squashed the rumors that there’s no talent in Cincinnati.

    Think all the great writers are in New York and Las Vegas? Well, you guessed wrong. The Cincinnati Playwrights Initiative (CPI) is a grassroots arts organization of local playwrights, directors and actors devoted to bringing new plays by local playwrights to the Cincinnati stage, proving that writing talent can be found in the Queen City. Through CPI’s New Voices Series, the group has offered 170 readings of 145 new plays, many of which are in the 2008 Fringe Festival lineup.

    Another vehicle of local talent is the upcoming 48 Hour Film Project. The 48 Hour Film Project comes to Cincinnati on the weekend of June 13. Filmmakers from all over the Cincinnati area will compete to see who can make the best short film in only 48 hours. The winning film will go up against films from around the world for the title “Best 48 Hour Film of 2008.”

      Created by a group calling itself Mirepoix Pictures, “Held in Sway” was named Best Film at last summer’s 48 Hour Film Project/Cincinnati. For that matter, it also won best direction, cinematography and musical score. Worldwide, more than 30,000 filmmakers entered 48 Hour competitions in 55 cities, according to this article. The film won the team a place in the famed Cannes Film Festival, which opened in the French Riviera resort town on May 15, 2008. Click here to see the award-winning flick!

    Myth #8: There’s Nothing to do in Cincinnati

    “I love the fact that there’s so much to do in the metro area. One can get good food, entertainment, cultural activities, educational events, plays, ethnic exposure and really good shopping,” says Zebulun Davenport in the Cincinnati USA 2008 City Guide.

    So if you’re looking for something to do in Cincinnati, the key is knowing where to go! Check out the following links:



    So the next time you hear someone saying something negative about Cincinnati, or you are guilty of doing so, consider this: according to this source, Joan Kaup, who recently ran for Cincinnati City Council, has an e-mail signature which includes the question: “What great thing have you said about Cincinnati today?” An important question we need to continually ask ourselves. Because the more good things we have to say about Cincinnati, the more myths we can bury.


    Photo: Neysa Ruhl Photography
    Location: Gateway Quarter
    Model: Emily Schellenbach

    Makeup Artistry: Cecily Claytor, Zoë Custom Cosmetics