How the Van Aken District Brought New Life to Shaker Heights: An Illustration Essay

The Van Aken District was once a glorified strip mall with more parking space than storefronts, but thanks to a strategic plan designed to help improve Shaker Heights, a suburb of Cleveland, the District has been revitalized into a vibrant, welcoming space for dining, shopping and community gatherings.

Resettlement to Revitalization: Toledo’s History of Immigration

Between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a period of rapid growth for Toledo, immigrants played an essential role in building Toledo’s economy, infrastructure, cultural heritage and even ecological landscapes. Today, as Toledo works to revitalize its economy and overcome ongoing trends of depopulation, looking to the past may provide valuable insights. If immigrants built Toledo yesterday, could they rebuild it today? This article is the first in a series titled “Resettlement to Revitalization,” which explores the past, present and future of immigration to the city.

How Climate Change is Transforming how the Midwest Farms

Across the United States, and particularly in the Midwest, a multitude of industries depend on the agricultural success of the nation’s farmers. Climate change is altering how farmers have to approach their jobs by causing irregularity in a crucial resource: water.

The Attraction of Food Service Work Is Plummeting. And Delivery Robots are Thriving.

As food service personnel decreased, delivery robots became an asset to many colleges and restaurants. Then, when delivery demand boomed during the pandemic, the robots’ utility increased even more. The robots provide food establishments with cost-effective replacements for deliverers—but they’re not a solution to the low wages that pushed many to leave the food service industry in the first place.

Building the Midwest’s Carbon-free Future with Nuclear Energy

llinois has a long history of nuclear energy development, innovation and research. In 2021, researchers and engineers throughout the region say new, safer nuclear technologies will be essential to decarbonizing the American energy system. True to its past, Illinois is playing a leading role in the development and deployment of these new technologies, this time with a focus on addressing the climate crisis.

The Politics of Midwestern Identity & Racial Divides

As protests and unrest continue, Midstory considers the Midwestern identity and the role the region has historically played in civil rights progress.

How Wisconsin Ginseng Became a Globally Coveted Commodity

Wisconsin is the number one producer of ginseng in the U.S. with ginseng products that are coveted nationally and internationally. The healing herb highlights the unique commercial and cultural interconnectedness of Asian communities across the globe with communities in the rural Midwest.

Bollywood, Hollywood and the Globalization of Socially-conscious Film: A Review of 3 Idiots

Amidst ever-increasing globalization, American audiences are slowly beginning to recognize international film industries, as evidenced by South Korea’s Parasite (2019) being the first non-English-language film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. As production companies pull rights for their content to start their own streaming services, platforms like Amazon Prime Video have found competitive avenues through hosting international films and television (think K-drama and European crime shows), opening up accessibility to global film industries.

Mobility in Crisis, Part I: Public Health, Transit and Investment

What does transportation look like from here? In the first installment in a series examining the future of public transit post-COVID-19, Midstory Fellow Stefan Binion talks with Stu Nicholson, Executive Director of All Aboard Ohio!, about what current discussions are amidst the pandemic and re-opening, from accessibility to the environment.

The Unsung Poetry of Working-class Women: A Review of The Daughters of Erietown

Connie Schultz’s debut novel intricately showcases not only the hardships, but also the dignity and resilience of the lives of small, working-class, Midwestern towns and the women who inhabit them.

Hidden in Plain Sight the GBS
The Quiet Revolution of Midwestern Speech

For decades, the Midwest was the example of perfect, accent-less English. Now, increasing dialectic quirks are changing that perception, and with it, Midwestern identity.

South to Midwest: My Grandfather’s Great Migration

Through conversations with her grandfather, the author unpacks his personal history during the Civil Rights Movement and the Great Migration—one that paved the way for generations to come. Read his story and listen to excerpts from the interview.

for each other

The path that brought us to Toledo was a winding one. In a way, you could say that we were brought here by the birth of our first child. Our beautiful baby girl was born on the evening of August 20th, 2016 in Bismarck, North Dakota.

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Midwest Indie Presses Are Turning a New Page in Publishing

“When the pandemic first hit and everything really shut down, bookstore sales evaporated overnight.”  Martha Bayne, senior editor with Belt Publishing — an independent press based in Cleveland, Ohio — experienced a fair amount of whiplash over the last year and a half as the independent publishing world went through a period of extremes. At the same time that bookstore...

The Quiet Rise of Detroit-style Pizza

New York and Chicago pizza may be more famous, but behind the lesser-known Detroit-style is a complex narrative genuine and authentic to the city from which it came; the pizza’s history truly is a slice of Detroit, a recipe that includes immigration, industry and nearly 80 years of persistence and endurance. From its invention in 1946 to its win...

Re-envisioning East Toledo | 5. “The Plan Lives On” — Looking Ahead for East Toledo

When we hear about Toledo's history and its progress, it's often in reference to the west side. But our city's Main Street can only be found on the east side, and the riverfront communities of East Toledo have made significant contributions to Toledo's rich and diverse cultural and industrial past. With all the excitement around the Marina District (now a new Metropark), what are the residents' hopes and dreams there?

How Dayton, Ohio is Modeling a Sustainable Future for Post-industrial Cities

Dayton, Ohio, a mid-sized city of about 140,000 people, is about as post-industrial as it gets; the city was built upon the aviation and automobile industries — both of which produce harmful emissions that the EPA has worked to combat. The state ranks seventh in highest carbon emissions in the nation, which is actually an improvement from years past.  While...

From Houston to Shaker Heights: A Great Migration Story

In the 1950s, my father’s side of the family, like many other Black families from the South, migrated to the northern parts of the country in search of job opportunities and a less racially-contentious environment. Moving from Houston, TX to Rochester, NY, and eventually settling in Cleveland, OH, they experienced the discomfort of regional differences and adapting to a...

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