Not ‘HEY! Hamilton!’, but ‘Why Hamilton?’

HEY! Hamilton! Columnist

The late summer of 2000 saw me take in Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam, London and Hamilton, Ohio.

It’s not what I planned. Seriously. Who ever heard of Hamilton, Ohio? If it weren’t for a cheesy ’70s sitcom, I barely would’ve known of Cincinnati, let alone anything to its north.

It’s at this point that I should probably be waxing lyrical about how I was instantly spellbound by the sights and sounds of Hamilton, how it’s Rockwellian charm had me transfixed as I strolled down High Street, drinking in the nostalgia of the middle America I had grown up to know only by television and movies.

But I wasn’t, so I won’t.

Some back story: I met a girl from the Midwest. We married and moved to Far Away. And when we were done there, we moved to another Far Away. But each chance we got, we returned, usually in the summer and just for weeks at a time.

The changes in Hamilton were small and they were subtle. To be honest, I probably missed most of them, if I was paying any attention at all. It’s not like I was planning to live here, right? Then in 2013, we came for an extended vacation, on our way to yet another, new Far Away.

I still wasn’t paying attention, but I did notice the changes. It was hard not to.

I get that it’s difficult not to sound like a complete schmuck with the phrase “I could live pretty much anywhere on the planet,” but it’s the quickest way to the point. And the draw of a wonderful extended family will only get you so far when looking to settle down and raise your child.

We came for family, but stayed for Hamilton. This city, this community with a new energy and attitude, whether stand-alone or in combination, had a profound affect on us.

I have been extremely fortunate to be involved in some incredible artistic endeavors during my career. But what I’ve never been a part of before is what is going on here in Hamilton, right now: Here is a city rebuilding itself, reinventing its purpose and driving itself forward in positive way, with an energized, engaged and enthusiastic community leading the way.

Something very special is going on in this city and we’re just getting started. The past is not ignored, but not dwelt upon either. We recognize the successes of Hamilton’s history, but more importantly we are now building towards the successes of the future.

An exclamation point on a map may garner you some attention nationally, I get that. But a city that develops well beyond that will certainly hold the attention of the most important people, those who live here, and I’m certainly glad I’m one of them.

Originally from Sydney, Australia, Ian MacKenzie-Thurley is the new Executive Director of the Fitton Center for Creative Arts. Previously he has worked in artistic, programming and administrative roles that include productions at the Sydney Opera House, the 2012 London Olympics Cultural Olympiad and also as a producing Artistic Director.

One thought on “Not ‘HEY! Hamilton!’, but ‘Why Hamilton?’”

  1. i too have been visiting Hamilton since 2000 and have observed the current revitalization of the city. Great to see a community working together in such a positive way.

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