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SUV-stuffing makes city life fun
Event promotes young professionals

By Maggie Downs
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Who hasn't wondered how many young professionals could fit into a Honda Element?

Luckily,, the young professional network with the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, did the work for us.

It also brought together local college students and more than 25 organizations on Fountain Square for a common goal - to retain young people in the Tristate.

Wednesday's event was designed to help build ties among the area's young professionals and their organizations - while stuffing a few people into a boxy sport utility vehicle.

(FYI: You can cram 21 people in there - including Mayor Charlie Luken.)

"It's a new twist on an old college tradition to demonstrate how passionate we are to advance the vision and energy of young professionals in Cincinnati," said Melinda Canino, workforce solutions consultant at the chamber.

It also was a way to bring people together - quite literally - like Luken, who was stretched across a stack of eight or nine people.

"I swore I wasn't going to do it, because I'm a little bit claustrophobic, but they made a nice space for me," Luken said.

Natalie Wheeler, assistant director of communications for the Cincinnati Art Museum, was on the Honda's dashboard.

"I didn't feel claustrophobic at all," she said. "The window helped."

Wheeler, who attended the event to represent both the museum's Renaissance Society and Legacy, an organization of young leaders, said that the afternoon was educational for others, too.

"It was good to show the whole community that there are organizations out there devoted to the young professional cause."

Luken said it was beneficial for him as well:

"I don't see enough of that group in my daily work, and I enjoy talking to them and getting some of their perspectives on the city," he said. "They want the city to be more exciting, more fun. And I know that if cities are going to survive long term we need that energy very badly."

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