05.26.05 NOTES: REI Regional Meeting: University Collaborative on sustainability

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Fri, 05/27/2005 - 00:41.

The 05.26.05 REI
& University Collaborative forum on “Moving Forward: Creating a Sustainable
Northeast Ohio� brought together at the Cleveland Ritz-Carlton Hotel a diverse
group of probably 100 representatives of businesses, non-profits, academe and government
to discuss the economic opportunity of sustainable development – to restore NEO
as a “green city by a blue lake�.

Cleveland exists where we are because of the convergence
here of the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie – we are here because of our natural
resources... water for transportation and fishing... abundant plant-life and game... native Americans knew this was a land of abundance long before Europeans
arrived on this soil, long before the Cuyahoga River Valley was known as part of
Northeast Ohio, and long before a swamp was transformed into the Rust Belt Flats.

The Ritz-Carlton is as far removed from nature as is humanly possible, and there probably wasn't a Native American in attendance at the "Creating a Sustainable
Northeast Ohio�
forum, but the affair was insightful and commendable for its purpose of raising
awareness of what today's native NEOans may do to bring our local
ecology as close to alignment with mother nature's intent as has been
considered here in a century.

forum - part of the "Making Change" series organized by the Case Weatherhead School of Management Center for Regional
Economic Issues (REI), followed an interesting path from innovative
approaches to economic development to a primer on area sustainability
initiatives, leading to a
glance at some regional sustainability relationships, open
brainstorming on sustainability-related issues and opportunities, and
with a unique expert perspective on the sustainability of
sustainability. The
clear conclusion of the event was we humans need to do radically more
to save the planet, starting with our local ecosystems in our own backyard.

REI Executive Director Ed Morrison welcomed the audience with
an introduction to “Open Source Economic Development: A new future for
advancing regions in a global economy�
and the preface that Northeast Ohio
needs to import businesses into the region, generate more wealth, and retain more
wealth. This set the stage for the conference, visioning on economic
development through sustainability.

Ed explained that with the industrial revolution innovators
in this region realized how to build industrial wealth by leveraging our
natural resources, by mining and using the lake and river to transport raw
materials used to produce steel and petroleum products. Our natural resources were for our first century
the drivers of our growth, symbolized by the Hulett ore unloaders and GE Coal
Loader of our industrial past, now dismantled.

Cleveland's Hulett ore unloaders remove their last cargo, from the Lemoyne, December 18, 1992.

Ed then went on to explain that, unfortunately for our
regional economy, the industrial age in America has been supplanted by the new
economy – the information and experience and participation and nano and bio
economies just beginning. Today, we need to explore our vision for economic
development and our natural resources for the future, as all that we know is in transformation.

With transformation comes disruption – realignment –
revolution. Whereas the industrial age required industrial developments,
technologies and policies of the scale of steel mills, ports, freighters, and
Huletts, and breed equally immense and powerful industrialists, the new economy
is not so rooted in places, bricks and mortar, or command and control. Today,
the wealth of the new new world and the future of this region is found in leveraging
virtual assets like brainpower and innovation networks abundant everywhere on
Earth, readily transported, and entirely free of geography. The transformation is
so great that the scarce resource is no longer dock space and safe harbors but
knowledge and entrepreneurship.

But, Ed points out, NEO has not developed the right
habits for new economy economic development, as have become well established in
the Southern US and so many other places around the world. Our S curve was based on steel, which has declined, and we
never planned for the next curve – but, he points out, it isn’t found in real estate development,
casinos, and convention centers.

we now seek to catch up with new innovative frontiers, we
are squeezed by legacy infrastructures and high cost curves – we thus
must be more innovative than other regions. The explosion of the
Internet creates new innovation opportunities and a new level
of globalism never before seen - will we leverage the transformation to a new global economy or

In response to the knowledge revolution, organizational and
cultural hierarchies are moving to flatter layers. Open source collaboration
replaces closed system of innovation – how do we leverage this?

NEO is a big enough region to compete globally, if we think
as a region and allow open networks of collaboration to transform our culture. We need to focus on global, regional, and local
competitiveness and innovativeness – but we are moving too slowly to innovate
in regional perspective vs. the South, Europe and even Canada

Ed points out transformational effort is at hand - the host of this conference, the University Collaborative,
is a “pick-up� team of 6 universities addressing regional issues –
collaborating with NOCHE. They held regional day April 29 in Akron and are
working with Voices & Choices and fund for our economic future to pursue
greater regional cooperation.

Our transformation is occurring in the “civic space� – where
economic development occurs – command and control doesn’t work there but
networks work to empower alignment through conversation and dialogue – the
value of networks grows exponentially with the number of connections (Metcalf’s
law) – Dynamic regional economies create more wealth by growing trust and
inclusion through networks. This offers a distinct contract to closed system
thinking – scarcity mentality – steely narrow vision

Need to create new vision for NEO. Encourage multiple
processes of creativity and innovation – focus on initiatives with compelling
agendas – encourage open participation – leadership direction should be to
manage broad civic habits of strategic doing… encourage open source insights,
initiatives, action plans and evaluations and repeat the process back around

We can think of new civic habits as a political or business
challenge – across the country regions are getting this – Kalamazoo, Asheville,
NC, Albany. Must build open networks of collaboration – networks nested in other
networks. Civic habits of collaboration create tangible competitive advantages
– regions that learn to collaborate will learn faster – see opportunities
faster, and align resources faster

Ed points to some collaborative strengths in this region, which include Tuesday@REI
(being copied elsewhere), Appreciative Inquiry, “By The People�, Medvick Matrix
(energy future), REALNEO

Competitiveness begins with building brainpower. The fastest
growing regions have the thickest networks connecting brainpower – clusters are
realization of that, but our clusters are still largely industrial age vs.
innovative – need to focus on developing future clusters, and build brainpower
for those clusters to grow

Ed offers tuesday@REI sessions that raised attention to health and disease
management, creative digital media, electronic commuter vehicles, bio-diesel,
and RAMTEC (new collaboration for small component manufacturers) as examples
of innovation networks.

Building the regional brand is least understood aspect of
economic development – not a logo or design but deep dialogue in collaboration
– e.g. Green City Blue Lake needs collaboration with all sustainability

Next steps are strengthening initiatives – build trust and
collaboration – need to mobilize around 3rd frontier (NEO gains more
out of this than other parts of the state) – and need to pass school levy.

Ed closes by explaining that today we will learn from Holly Harlan and David Beach about
their initiative to build networks for sustainability for the region.

Holly Harlan leads an organization called Entrepreneurs for Sustainability - more on Holly and E4S are posted to REALNEO here - and by searching REALNEO for "E4S". Arrangements will be made to post her presentation to this forum - draft notes follow.

Before presenting her vision, she asks who we in the audience are, by categories of business, government, academics,
non-profits - response shows fairly even distribution, with least representation from government.

Holly explains she is an industrial engineer who moved from GE and other business enterprises to the non-profit
sector after became aware of sustainability, in 2000 – she says she is here today as an engineer
and business person rather than environmentalist – her vision is that there is
a triple bottom line of economics, environment and equity – she believes the
challenge is integration of these bottom-lines – she believes most companies
are on the journey to sustainability – there are major businesses in other
regions pursuing to be the first with no negative impact on the Earth – she sees
the power of this strengthening workforce development as people want to work for good
companies – sustainability conscious companies.

Lowest hanging fruit of sustainability is to increase energy

Next, consider Waste = Food in NEO – e.g. Great Lakes Brewing
Company and Liquid Resources turn waste into useful products.

In 2001 Holly started E4S – looks to promote sustainable lifestyle –
how can individuals get involved – how can enterprises support that... sees opportunities through:

  • Economic impact/benefit of sustainability
  • Transforming business through sustainability
  • Sustainability related business formation and job creation
  • Industry transformation
  • Industry Symbiosis – innovation between companies (one
    company’s waste is another company’s food)… leads to very little waste

Holly asks the audience to consider what if NEO was to become known as the center of healthy high
performance building – local food – sustainable energy capital – ecosystem
leaders – business transformation… triple bottom line – leader in total
community health?

How universities can help:

  • Connect
  • Facilities
  • Processes
  • Products
  • Markets
  • Culture

Her vision - what if we became the leading working learning society for
sustainability for the world?

David Beach – leads the Green City Blue Lake Network and EcoCity Cleveland - other notes covering David Beach on REALNEO are found here - today he presents from his website - notes follow:

David offers an operational view of who in NEO is doing

First he asks us to consider there are now more people living in cities than rural areas around the
world – first time in history

David approaches sustainabiliy as a writer. Looking for
patterns with sustainability in NEO – mapping networks – many organizations
and projects with a bigger role for growth in NEO than appreciated in the past. If all the
initiatives out there are organized as network we can set an important agenda
for the future – plan what we need to do to transform region

shows he is using “The Brain� software to map networks and show
interrelationships of sustainability initiatives and organizations –
doesn't view this as rust belt but water belt – demonstrates brain as
way to visualize slices of view of the network… he plays around
and follows
the relationships – he suggests we can explore this network map at
Green City Blue Lake website and email them on
gaps and they will add to network

He's using this map for branding identity – provides context for
action – sum of links is greater than parts – gives leaders of the movement and
the movement a stronger standing in the community – propels into future – helps
eliminate gaps – organizational platform for doing things – sees his organization as umbrella
organization to facilities new projects for the community – provide fiscal
agent services for smaller initiatives to facilitate sustainability.

Ed points out the Green City Blue Lake identity goes deep
into the soul of NEO – all our cities are based on water

Next on the agenda, published Appreciative Inquiry expert Jack Ricchiuto will break us into groups to explore how
we may build our region as a world center of sustainability.

He explains he’s set up a visual marketplace in the lobby area outside the meeting room for us to barter on
what we have to offer and what we need to grow – we are a resource rich region
and it is making the resources connect that will make things happen – there are
cards available to identify what we have and need – Jack encourages us to fill them out and post them on
the wall to illustrate our market ecosystem (what was outcome of this?).

Now to break out into “open space� sessions – the 4

  • Whoever comes is the right person
  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could
  • Whenever it starts is the right time
  • When it’s over it is over

The law of 2 feet

  • When you find yourself wanting to learn or contribute
    something new – move somewhere new

The concept of this session is self-organizing conversations
about things we each care about – accidental encounters. Think about what in
life has provided greatest satisfaction and much of that has come from
accidental conversations – by definition they have power because they connect
us in new ways – let’s have conversations about leadership in sustainability –
we may provide leadership from here across the nation… may we? What are the
issues, possibilities, and opportunities?

What to focus on… and the notes captured in each break-out group:

  • Language translation technology
  • Economic value of realignment of food industry
  • Growing MEMS industry in NEO – but we’re such a 19th
    century town so where do we find seed capital to fund new industry traction

  • How to tell the right stories
  • Credit for internships – talent looking to make a difference
    matched with businesses needing help – retain talent
  • Encourage political change not just in mind-set of leaders
    but also in driving change to policy

  • How do we train leaders to think in whole systems rather
    than linear thinking – young people on web all the time already think of
    connections – how to increase system thinking?

  • What can we do to improve school system – universities help
    to address lifelong learning in everyday world

  • (Director of County Planning Commission proposes) – in terms
    of making us national brain gain leaders, if our universities got together as
    network then any bright person anywhere in US would come here because there is
    network experience – what can our network of universities do to make this the
    most compelling place to learn about sustainability? (comment from audience -
    CSU is seeking to develop center of sustainable business practices)

  • Lots of conceptual thought and action happening – lots of
    good language – but consider we are sitting on the beachhead of sustainability
    with Whiskey Island, which is about to be turned into stone loading terminal –
    there is not a better physical expression than Whiskey Island – huge issue
    addressing everything we’re trying to actualize – challenge whole community to
    ask mayor and county to keep

At this point,
the meeting breaks for lunch, followed by a dynamic presentation from
Bruce Latimer, Ph.D. – Executive Director – Museum of
Natural History
- asking is sustainability sustainable? His presentation will post here - more on his perspectives is posted on REALNEO here.

Bruce points out we live in a resource-oriented world – if there would be
unlimited resources there would be no evolution. Why would any species degrade
their ecology as to put themselves at risk? We all know we’ve poisoned the
water – over fished the oceans – caused global warming! We’re programmed to do
that – we’re so smart…!?!?

All organisms will extract energy from their environment to
the greatest extent of their ability.

Why are humans so bizarre? No other mammal has ever even
experimented with walking on two legs. Other big adaptation is the biggest
brain of any mammal ever, in terms of body weight. We also have developed “technology�.

Darwin had the most important idea ever – natural selection
– origin of species and descent of man. He found we are the same as apes – he said
to find origins of man go to Africa. And Chimps know they’re like us – given
cards of many animals chimps see themselves and man as same – genetically 99%

Go to Africa and you find Lucy (in fact, our Natural History
Museum found her), who walked like us but had a brain like a chimp. Evolution
of man required evolution of the pelvis to have a round birth canal – humans
have the most difficult birth of any mammal because our brains grew

All technology is disruptive – 2.5 million year old
sharpened rock is oldest tool ever found - overnight man became able to become
omnivore – transformed in one generation – allowed human to break bones to get
to marrow, which is an excellent source of fat, which gave humans the fuel to
grow brain to become better tool makers – fastest evolutionary trajectory found
on Earth – with brain growth came pelvic change

Brains allow humans to understand our patterned universe –
take inferences from past and project them into the future – big brain is
pattern recognizer – but it doesn’t look very far out into the future… only 2-3
days. We should be living in groups of 18-20 people we know, looking for our
next meals – we are crisis managers – that is not a good characteristic for
sustainability. We are also most social and hierarchical animals – we are all created
to be alphas – every human interaction will lead to hierarchies – leads to
competition – we apply this to economics and that is capitalism – we are hard
wired for this and like it – that is why Marxism failed, because you can’t get
the competitive edge out of the hard-wired brain. It won’t work because you
can’t retrain the brain.

We have a brain that is no longer getting bigger but
technology (which is energy extraction) is expanding. So we have a problem – we
need a government that encourages sustainability through innovation in science
and technology and private sector practices – it requires dialogue

Latimer is optimistic because he sees all these people here.

Now Mathew Hollern introduces a new award he designed to
recognize civic entrepreneurship in NEO. Matthew Hollern is Dean of Craft Environment at The Cleveland Institute of Art. He
speaks of the inspiration for his design - at the unveiling of a first Gehry design for the Weatherhead School the professors at Case embraced the design and so the Gehry team tore
the drawings up and started over – they challenged the client. To be successful
as an entrepreneur is to synthesize.



In introducing the award, Ed Morrison explained there are
many talented people in the Civic Space that we need to celebrate – Ed presented this award to Holly Harlan.

Ed closed by saying the next steps are for each
of us to take on our own. A great place to begin is posting feedback from this session at the Sustainability Redux forum for that purpose, posted here.