Reprinted with permission from the Tribune Chronicle
Youngstown man pushes city pride

August 7, 2006

By JOE GORMAN Tribune Chronicle

Tribune Chronicle / Joe Gorman

Phil Kidd, a U.S. Army veteran and former Pittsburgh resident, displays his new shirt in which he mounts a defense of his new city, Youngsown.

YOUNGSTOWN — Phil Kidd is used to the cracks and guffaws when he tells people he left a big city to move to Youngstown.

Not short of ways to defend himself, he is in the process of trying to get others to defend the city, too.

Kidd, an Army veteran and Pittsburgh native who works in the court assignment office at the Mahoning County Courthouse, put his sentiments to fashion about his passion for his new hometown and is scrambling to keep up with orders for his ‘‘Defend Youngstown’’ t-shirts.

The 27-year-old Kidd said an initial giveaway of 25 shirts six months ago has led to him selling more than 750, and he is taking more orders. He said it is just another example that there are people who care about Youngstown.

‘‘The energy is out there. This is a great town,’’ Kidd said. ‘‘With everything happening, we can take this great energy and turn this thing around.’’

Kidd attended Youngstown State University for a brief period, followed by a stint in a military academy before joining the Army. He was a tank commander in the 134th Armor Brigade.

After his discharge, Kidd was looking for a place to live and heard about the Youngstown 2010 plan. After reading about the plan online, he said he decided he wanted to live in Youngstown and try and be part of the process that turns the city around.

‘‘I thought it was fantastic,’’ Kidd said. ‘‘I thought I could come back here and continue my education and be a part of the revolution.’’

Also contributing to his decision are the people, Kidd said. He said the people in the city are the best he has run across anywhere. He now lives on the North Side.

Kidd said he began to think of his shirts because of the negative image many people here have of the city, and that he has seen shirts depicting Youngstown, but mostly with a derogatory slogan or a gun stenciled on it. He said he wanted to create an image that would mold the city’s hard-working past with a hope for the future.

An artist friend who lives in Philadelphia helped him to design the logo. After several drafts and visits by the artist to Youngstown, they settled on the muscular steel worker swinging a sledgehammer and the slogan, ‘‘Defend Youngstown.’’

Kidd said he gave the initial 25 shirts to downtown restaurant owners and Mayor Jay Williams. Once they began wearing them, there was a clamor for more.

‘‘It caught fire,’’ Kidd said.

When he wears his shirt, Kidd said people walk up to him and ask why the city needs defended. They cite its economic woes and crime statistics. Kidd says he tells them that if people are going to stay, they have to begin acting in ways to save the city. He also says he tries to convince people that Youngstown is still a great city.

‘‘We’re either going forward or we’re going to crash and burn,’’ Kidd said. ‘‘The empire that was Youngstown still exists. It just needs motivation.’’

Kidd said he is under no illusions that problems can be fixed quickly or will just go away, but he said he is majoring in criminal justice and wants to be a police officer and perhaps go to law school and keep living in Youngstown.

‘‘I’m in it to win it,’’ he said.


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