Friday, November 4, 2011

What Makes Your State Great? OHIO

Ohio: high in the middle and round on both ends. That pretty much describes my figure since I hit middle age. *rimshot*

But seriously folks, my home state has much that makes it great. Ironically, one of the things that makes Ohio great is its mediocrity. We are so average here, so middle of the road, that we are used as the example of Middle America. Want to know how your new product will sell? Test it in Ohio first. Need to take the political temperature? Dip your toe in Ohio’s waters to see how voters will react. In films, the wholesome girl next door is from Ohio. Fictitious rock bands pay ironic homage to Ohio by opening their concerts with “HELLO CLEVELAND!” Real rock bands can’t wait to play here so they can legitimately shout the same words. Joe the Plumber, an iconic symbol of the middle class during the 2008 Presidential election, hails from Ohio.

So how did Ohio come to represent Americana? Strangely, the secret to Ohio’s middling reputation actually lies in its diversity. With a number of top ranked colleges and universities, including mammoth Ohio State University, Ohio draws students from all over the United States and the rest of the world, many of whom stay on after graduation and make their homes here. These students bring with them their culture, customs, and spiritual beliefs.

Another factor in Ohio’s diversity is its location. During Slavery, Ohio was a major stop on the Underground Railroad. Many Blacks opted to settle in Cincinnati and other Ohio towns along the Railroad. The National Road (now U.S. route 40) also runs smack dab through the middle of Ohio, linking the Eastern and Western United States.

With these and other factors, it’s no wonder that Ohio is home to, well, just about every kind of person you can think of. We’ve got freaks, geeks, rock ‘n’ rollers and holy rollers, jocks, farmers, beauty queens, steel workers, suits, high society and just plain folks. We’ve got Pagans, Episcopalians, and Episcopagans. We’ve got Baptists and Wiccans (both known for their potluck suppers), Unitarian Universalists, Quakers, Catholics, Buddhists, Taoists, Methodists, Ba’hais, Muslims, Eastern Orthodox, Atheists, Agnostics, Gnostics, Red Road Walkers, Lutherans, Hindus, and people who identify as “Other”. I even know one guy who says he’s a Vaginist. Talk about pious! That young man is always ready to kneel and worship. And if the aroma around college campuses is any indication, Ohio is home to a LOT of Rastafarians. Hungry? I hope you’re in the mood for greekmiddleeasternchinesejapanesemexicanethiopianfrenchgermanitaliansomalianspanishkoreansouthamericancentralamericannortherneuropeanbritishirishscottishaustraliankenyanindianvietnamesecambodianlaotianpolynesianisraelicubansoutherncookinsoulfood, ‘cause that’s what’s on the menu in Ohio.

Hail Ohio, we make average extraordinary!

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