A collection of love letters written to the town.
When you move from LA to Toledo one question is common...
I’m new. I arrived in August 2016, after 45 years in Southern California. My family and I came to Toledo so I could serve as Director of Theatre at Maumee Valley Country Day School. When you move from Los Angeles to Toledo, one question is common from friends, coworkers, and even retail cashiers.
The tone runs the gamut from enthusiastic to judgmental. Some long-time residents find it hard to believe a person would choose Toledo. There are the usual follow up questions to which, the answers are: I am learning how to drive in snow. No, I don’t miss traffic. I enjoy having seasons. We lived 15 minutes from Disneyland. Yes, I love it here.
The last answer confuses some people. It is sometimes followed up with, “Really?”
So, I offer here, the reasons I love Toledo.
The people of Toledo seek community. My work with students, parents, and faculty demonstrates this every day. As an arts educator, teaching 21st century students how to connect to others is a huge challenge. My students here arrive every day hoping to connect. In Los Angeles, people have tunnel vision about their own lives and careers. Other people exist only in the context of how they relate to an individual’s goals. In Toledo, people look each other in the eye. They care about the lives, hopes, and challenges of others. In stores, I am asked, honestly, about my day. People listen to each other here.
Also, the people are real. The stereotype of the honest Midwesterner and plastic Los Angeleno, while not entirely accurate, does have an underlying truth. I remind my students that they tell the world what is important to them by how they dedicate their time. In Los Angeles, people build a lifestyle, not a life. They dedicate too much energy to outward appearances. In a “fake it ‘til you make it” culture, most people are still fake. I have found this community to be real in the best sense. People understand their gifts and want to share them with others. Even as my students look to the future, they can honestly see where they are. This authenticity serves them well as they plan their futures.
Finally, Toledo is a place with a past and a future. Teachers always sit on the generational line. We see the parents’ pragmatism and students’ dreams; we see the tension of what is and what’s next. In Los Angeles, a twenty-year-old building is historic. It will also be paved over next week. Toledo takes pride in its industrial history. It also strives to transition to a new chapter in the story of the city. The friction between tradition and innovation makes Toledo fertile ground for the arts.
For these reasons, I am happy here. Honorable mention goes to the natural beauty of the city. It exists in a playful harmony with the landscape. I see deer, groundhogs, and wild turkeys on my commute. There are trees which took root and grew where they are now. Trees in California are placed, they do not grow naturally. It is a beautiful city.
We had the pleasure of meeting up with Brian at Maumee Valley Country Day School’s Millennium Theater, where he and his students were hard at work putting the finishing touches on their Spring Musical – “Footloose”. We can tell you that this is one show you won’t want to miss!
Maumee Valley’s Drama department will present four performances of “Footloose”, at their Millennium Theatre, Thursday, April 27, Friday, April 28, and Saturday, April 29 at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, April 30 at 2:00 pm. Tickets are $10 for students (any age) and $12 for adults. Presale tickets are available starting April 4, 9:00 am at mvcds.ticketleap.com.