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.

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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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African Cuisine Can Be Hard to Find in the Midwest. First- and Second-generation Immigrants Are Changing That.

After Esther Ajiboye was laid off from her banking job amid the Great Recession of 2008, she decided to try her hand outside of the finance industry. In the years since she’d moved to Columbus, OH from Nigeria, she hadn’t seen much Nigerian cuisine outside of her own cooking at home — so in 2010, she and her husband...

A Cautionary Tale, Twice Over: Surface Water Quality on Lake Erie

“They’ll walk on their fins and get woefully weary, in search of some water that isn’t so smeary, I hear things are just as bad up in Lake Erie.” If you were an avid Dr. Seuss fan growing up, this line from his classic cautionary tale of environmental destruction, “The Lorax,” may seem familiar, albeit with a slight but important...
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What’s It Like to Intern at Midstory? 2021 Intern Cohort Journal

This year, 24 college students from all across the nation joined Midstory to learn, think, create and problem solve for the future of the Midwest. Hailing from 20 universities and 22 hometowns, our interns Zoomed in for 10 weeks of research, multimedia storytelling, guest speakers and seminars, workshops and collaborative brainstorming. From researching regional labor history to writing a...

Weight of Sound, Ep. 2: Brahms Symphony No. 4 (and More!)

In episode 2 of Weight of Sound, Toledo Symphony violinist and teacher at Maumee Valley Country Day School Tom Sieberg shares memories brought back through Brahms Symphony No. 4—the joy and inspiration of music education and teaching music with his wife Colleen: “...she also knew how to challenge kids. I mean, that was one of her biggest gifts. She wasn't afraid to give any group any piece of music because somehow she knew they could get it done. And she was going to see to it that they did it.”

Snaps & Taps: How Black Artists Paved the Way for Slam Poetry in Columbus

In 1956, President Eisenhower signed the Federal Aid Highway Act into law, authorizing one of the largest public works programs in the nation’s history: the construction of interstate highways. The program changed the national landscape and fueled the development of the cities on its routes, though often by demolishing or dividing minority and marginalized communities along the way. In...

Editor's Picks

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

Author Connie Schultz told a Glamour reporter in July that until hearing Bruce Springsteen’s music, “I didn't realize that our people lead lives of poetry too.” Who are “our...

The Cannaley Treehouse Project: A Space of Intersection

The “midstory” is the middle tier in a canopy of trees—a balancing force that provides coverage to the lower story and support for the upper. It is a place...

War! Who Is It Good For? A Review of Da 5 Bloods

Da 5 Bloods, this June’s Netflix-exclusive Spike Lee joint, opens with archival footage from the American Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War, prophetically resonating with the current political...

“Got Milk?” The COVID-19 Food Dilemma: Part I, the Storefront

Don’t cry over spilled milk? Well, maybe we should. COVID-19 is forcing us to re-examine systems that have been in place for hundreds of years, including the grocery. But the grocery storefront is just a window into the unprecedented social and economic pressures we are facing as global citizens. In this two-part series, we talk about the evolution of the grocery store and how the current crisis is affecting the massive food network behind it.
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All Aboard: Reimagining Toledo & Its Union Station

A few specks of dust hang in the air of Toledo’s train station, still and silent, exposed by a light that gleams from the nearby window. “Peaceful” and “pristine”...

Latest COVID-19 Updates

Live a day in the life of a Midstory intern through this collection of moments recorded by our 2021 cohort during their remote internship with us.

Learn more about this year's cohort here: http://www.midstory.org/2021-intern-cohort-journal/

Applications now open for 2022: http://www.midstory.org/internships

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