CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Streetcar -- newly renamed the Cincinnati Bell Connector -- is about to become a reality.
For more than two years, talk about the streetcar has dominated city politics and shaped who we are as a community.
It has also led to some pretty interesting, insightful -- and in some cases, downright funny -- commentary.
Our own cartoonist Kevin Necessary has been at the forefront of the discussion on the streetcar.
Kevin and Cincinnati Business Courier cartoonist Joe Hoffecker have each drawn editorial cartoons about the streetcar. They began talking about exhibiting their work together.
Hoffecker connected with the Mercantile Library. Now, the two cartoonists will join with the library for a special event on the eve of the streetcar’s opening day.
Streetcar(toons) will feature Kevin and Hoffecker discussing their works on the streetcar and those attending will get see their work displayed.
“It will be a little art, a little talk and partly about their process,” said Mercantile Library Executive Director John Faherty, who will moderate.
The event is from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Sept. 8 at the Mercantile Library. Tickets are $10, but you can get in for free if you are a WCPO Insider, a Business Courier subscriber or a library member. To make your reservation, just email firstname.lastname@example.org. There will be refreshments from Christian Moerlein and Taste of Belgium.
Faherty, a former newspaper reporter, said he has long been a fan of editorial cartoons, and he’s thrilled Cincinnati has two cartoonists.
The streetcar has been such a controversial topic that it makes for good cartooning and discussion.
“It’s kind of been at the center of city politics the last two years, if not longer,” Kevin said. “It kind of seems like everything that’s been happening in city hall -- the personality conflicts, the policy decisions -- all hinges on the streetcar.
“It’s also a big moment for the city of Cincinnati. We will have a new mode of transportation. How will it change us? How will it affect our lives? How’s it already changing our lives?”
The streetcar has already affected Kevin’s life.
More than two years ago, he connected with the Business Courier to create a magazine cover illustration of then mayoral candidate John Cranley trying to stop the streetcar.
It led to him working as a freelance cartoonist for WCPO before being hired fulltime in June.
Since his return to cartooning, Kevin has created nine cartoons related to the streetcar.
And some of those cartoons have already shown how the streetcar is changing our lives. In April 2015, Kevin showed the streetcar changing Oktoberfest. More than a year later, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber announced that Oktoberfest would be moving to a new location because of the streetcar. Now, we are a few weeks away from Oktoberfest.
Those kinds of changes to our city are exactly what Streetcar(toons) is all about. And that coincides with the interests of the Mercantile.
“As a library, we have always been concerned with urbanism,” Faherty said. “It’s one of our founding tenets. This city matters, and how we live and how we get around matter. That’s a big part of who we are. We were founded by businessmen who cared about that. And the streetcar is going to stop right outside our front door. Thirdly, the most important part is this is free speech. We value nothing more than free speech in all of its forms.”