Sunday, January 3, 2016


For a region once known as "The World's Image Center," Rochester has a surprisingly poor self-image.  One might think that the area would tout the following:

  • Despite being labeled a company town (Kodak), the region has grown in spite of the company's local workforce shrinking by over 95%.  
  • Top-tier universities and elite suburban public education are part of the community fabric.
  • On a per capita basis, the arts and cultural offerings are among the most abundant in the country.
Unfortunately, one data point is made to overshadow the above: Rochester has been pinned as the fifth poorest city in the U.S.  As stated many times previously, the point is not to deny poverty or to dilute the importance of addressing it.  The point is to right-size the problem.  By comparing cities which comprise widely different percentages of their metro areas, the urban poverty statistics are at best misleading and at worst completely invalid.  In Rochester's case, the urban poor represent about 6.3% of the metro area.  In other words, 93.7% of the metro area is not captured in this statistic.  (Granted, among the 93.7%, there are more than a few suburban and rural residents contending with poverty, but you get the point.)  By completely ignoring the remarkably positive aspects of the region in favor of relentlessly highlighting a less desirable factor that is not even being properly characterized, our behavior can be equated to:
  • Having a musically gifted child who can play piano by ear, yet making him or her feel inadequate because the neighbor's child is a better soccer player.
  • Having an intelligent, beautiful, and supportive spouse, yet harping on his or her inconsistency in doing the dishes.

1 comment:

  1. Rochester has had an image problem for some time now, and in my opinion is one of the largest things holding it back. More and more though I hear optimism about the city's revival, I don't know what else could be done other than looking forward positively for the future and hope the attitude catches on.