While I haven't seen it yet, what sounds like a great exhibit opens today at the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry & Labor entitled "Working Ohio/Working Youngstown" and features the photos and words of firefighers, steelworkers, lab technicians, and janitors, the working men and women of Northeast Ohio. The exhibit is sponsored by Center for Working-Class Studies and the journalism program at Youngstown State University.
The exhibit started as a journalism project in Assistant Professor Alyssa Lenhoff's advanced journalism class, where students were tasked with capturing the experience and perspective of workers. According to Dr. Sherry Linkon, Co-Director of the Center for Working-Class Studies, the exhibit is exciting because it brings students into the process of redevelopment within Northeast Ohio. Projects like this "engage our students in the community, and for journalism students, it helps them learn that "news" is not only about the most visible, important members of the community but about everyone," said Linkon.
Linkon hopes that the project can help all of us get a sense of how work is shaping the Mahoning Valley today. "After the mills closed and as the auto industry declines, our shared identity as a community of industrial workers has faded, and we don't know what to replace that with. People ask me all the time, "what do people do there now?""
Here's what we do: we teach school, we run medical tests, we staff retail stores, we make high-tech materials and dance clothes, we work in offices, and much more. We work, largely in the service industry, many in locally or regionally-owned small and mid-sized businesses. Many of us work multiple part-time jobs, while some are building careers in fields that go almost unnoticed."
In addition to student photos, the exhibit features the work of Cleveland-area photographer Steve Cagan. If you are interested, the show runs through May 4 and admission is free. If you can catch it, a reception and gallery talk will be held at 7 p.m. tonight.
View Steve's online gallery of images from the show here.