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Letter: New moves show city creating strong legacy

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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of The Republic.

From: Joshua Ratliff


I am writing to express my appreciation for the significance of an imperceptible moment — a transition that is quietly happening in Columbus.

I don’t know exactly when romantic music ended and jazz began. I don’t know exactly when men stopped having to wear hats in public. And I don’t know exactly when Columbus switched from embracing patriarchal gifts (from J. Irwin Miller and others) to creating its own new legacy, but it is happening.

There are two examples that I want to draw attention to on this subject.

We have a new restaurant opening here. That sounds commonplace, but it is a restaurant opened by a Columbus native who, after studying the business in a respected school, came back to do it.

Matt Gatesy is not a world-famous chef, and his concept, barbecue, is not going to drop Mark Bittman’s or David Chang’s jaw. What it will do is give Columbus something fresh and needed. Matt studied in some of the best upscale restaurants in the country, arguably the world, and he chose to come back and stay back. That is not a story you hear about many small cities in the state.

No one needed to spend $400,000 on a feasibility study or pull strings or graft a piece of Napa onto our local vine; it just happened. Whether the establishment, Indiana Smokehouse, succeeds or not will be up to people working and eating there. Regardless of the outcome, there is already a positive indicator: Things are changing, and it’s not just in food.

A world-class furniture designer, Jonathan Nesci (just Google him), moved with his family to Columbus this summer. I don’t think that Jonathan will likely be involved in fixing our zoning arguments, potholes or political disgust, but he will be designing and working here, not anywhere else.

A company didn’t recruit him to move here, he didn’t get a million-dollar grant — he just thought it would be the right move. If you want to meet him and his work, word is he is building a large group of furniture pieces that will be on public display in Columbus this fall.

Columbus has a world-class foundation to stand on thanks to the visionary leaders of our recent past. But we own it now, and it seems passive appreciation isn’t going to satisfy the next generation of residents. And just maybe that hunger in the next era will give us a city that makes our forefathers and us proud.

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