Friday, December 16, 2011

New Book Spreads the Love on C-Town

Posted By on Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 5:23 AM

In Julia Kuos world, every hood is sketchy.
  • In Julia Kuo's world, every hood is sketchy.
When Julia Kuo moved from L.A. to Cleveland in 2007, she found a city that felt vacant and cold. Even after landing a job at American Greetings, she considered the new place rough around the edges, notable mainly for harsh winters and really bad sports teams.

At that point, if somebody had told her that she'd eventually be spouting her fondness for Cleveland, she probably never would have believed it.

Kuo adjusted to Cleveland life by creating community with her neighbors and discovering the city with their help. Lo and behold, the dirty little burg became a home. During a dry spell from freelance work, she launched a popular blog — 100 Days in Cleveland — where she posted a daily drawing about Cleveland life. The blog caught the attention of urban planner Justin Glanville, who asked Kuo to contribute illustrations to a book he was writing about all things Cleveland.

Kuo and Glanville celebrated the release of that book — New to Cleveland: A Guide to (Re)Discovering the City — at Happy Dog on December 14. The turnout was incredible.

The book offers a direct, honest, and hip look at our hometown. “I wanted the book to appeal to younger creative people,” says Glanville. “Cleveland is a place of surprising abundance, and I want to share what is here.”

Its illustrations are also endearing to those who have visited these places: familiar, quirky, but never overly romantic.

Designed, written, illustrated, and printed in the city, the book is all about “local.” It features 12 different neighborhoods (plus Lakewood and Cleveland Heights) and more than 50 illustrations. Its 240 full-color pages have a fun and accessible design. Glanville addresses everything with honesty, from gay life to racial tension to the question, “Can I live in a cold industrial building?”

Glanville grew up in the suburbs and moved to the Big Apple after college; there he worked as a reporter for the Associated Press. After seven years, he returned to the urban planning grad program at Cleveland State, where he worked with nonprofits like ParkWorks and Cleveland Public Art.

Glanville and Kuo hope their book can be a guide for those who are new to the area, as well as for locals who wish to expand their horizons.“Most of the people who we sold the book to live here and want to know more about their city. I think that even a person educated about Cleveland can learn from the book,” says Glanville.

It contains many unusual tidbits. Did you know, for instance, that Lake Erie was once home to a huge shark-like monster called Dunkleosteus, whose fossil can be found at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History?

Whether you’re intrigued by history, are new to the area, or simply want to view the city in a new light, this book is something special. Its cover price is $29.99; check it out at newtoclevelandbook.com. — Jackie Bon

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