2,000 apples a day, and Toronto may be the Greatest and Greenest of the World’s Big Cities!

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Tue, 03/03/2009 - 04:46.

This is Toronto

This is Toronto on Smog

Many questions?

A 2008 analysis of Green Economic Development for Toronto - “People, Planet & Profit; Catalyzing Economic Growth & Environmental Quality in the City of Toronto” - concludes “The Vision for Toronto to be the Greatest and Greenest of the World’s big cities is not far off”.

Yet Toronto has a history and future of significant air, land, built and water challenges to address in their environment. And, about half of the pollutants that cause smog in the Toronto region come from the U.S., meaning Ohioans effect Toronto's air quality nearly as much as Torontonians.

Toronto has discovered how to be the Greatest and Greenest under difficult environmental citcumstances, largely beyond local control. Exploring how that is possible, from a holistic, general systems perspective that considers the needs of society, the economy and the environment, offers valuable lessons for all communities and global society .

The first lesson to learn is the government of Toronto has excellent understanding and management of an enormous field of metrics and indicators found embedded in initiatives, generated through strategic planning, and captured from innumerable public and private data sources, including through interaction with citizens.

To consider how this relates to the value of the “Green Economy”, consider Toronto's “People, Planet & Profit” finds:

The growing demand for environmental goods and services represents a tremendous business development opportunity for Toronto companies.  Annual global environmental markets have surpassed the $US 1 trillion level, as a multitude of drivers converge, driving demand for innovative clean solutions to new heights. In Canada, the market has surpassed $35 billion annually. Over 6000 Canadian firms, employing over 250,000 people provide innovative ‘green’ solutions that generate both financial and environmental benefits to buyers around the world. 

Regarding Toronto's potential to benefit from their already thriving Green Economy:
Perhaps we are closer to achieving this green greatness than we think. Toronto has all the tools, networks, and people to make this green dream possible.  The public and private sectors within the city of Toronto have a number of innovative initiatives underway that are: catalyzing sustainability in the City;  providing the foundation for a successful green industry sector; and  contributing to Toronto’s effort to becoming recognized globally as a green urban centre.

Regarding the current state of the Green Economy in Toronto:

Toronto has a significant concentration of firms in the environmental sector that will form the basis for future growth and support environmental innovation across all sectors of the economy.  There is a strong history of environmental business within the city core and the surrounding area including a strong presence of more traditional environmental companies in the areas of engineering consulting, law, waste management, and remediation.  However, the landscape continues to evolve. 
Many policy initiatives and market forces in the city (and province) such as the green buildings partnership has encouraged the growth of companies in areas such as energy efficiency, demand side management, green building architecture/design and high end consulting firms.  Other more innovative technology solution providers (e.g. clean energy) and high-value service firms (e.g. green financial investment) have also emerged and are expanding in number and size within Toronto. 
At present, it is estimated that there are over 1,000 organizations residing in the City of Toronto whose primary business is in the environment and clean energy sectors or they are offering a ‘green’ element to their main product or service line.  These activities are likely generating over 20,000 jobs and $2 billion of revenue annually for the local economy.  More specifically:

  • Approximately 2/3 of these are service firms and1/3 technology or product companies
  • Over 90% of these companies are considered small with fewer than 100 employees;
  • An estimated 15% of these companies are exporting with more than ¾ of export sales going to the U.S.

Along with specific recommendations for action, the report stresses:

The go-forward action plan should lead to: coordinated and unified goals and targets linked to other city departments; implementation of specific actions that will achieve the desired goals of this green economic sector development plan; and measurement of successes that can be communicated to all stakeholders. 

The core actions centre around: stimulating a green market demand; enhancing and leveraging partnerships with existing networks; marketing the “Toronto Advantage”, leading by example, educating and expanding the workforce, and supporting existing business.

Toronto’s Green Economic Sector Development Vision, proposed in “People, Planet & Profit”:
To become a globally recognized green industry hub that generates social, environmental, and economic value to the City, local industry and its residences while stimulating the continued growth and sustainability of established businesses.

How did Toronto become a world-leader developing and implementing such intuitive and responsive strategies for regeneration and economic growth, in times of global warming, when their region is struggling with climate change and much of their own environmental hardship is beyond their direct control?

Necessity is the mother of invention.

Toronto began a formal, strategic environmental regeneration process over a decade ago, with the foundation belief “that governments, in partnership with citizens and stakeholders, should set the agenda for protecting and enhancing the natural environment”, as stated by the City of Toronto Environmental Task Force (ETF), created by City Council in March 1998 to develop the City’s first-ever Environmental Plan, Clean, Green and Healthy, A Plan for an Environmentally Sustainable Toronto, published by ETF in 2000.

As stated in the report's introduction:

The approach taken by the ETF was to go beyond environmental protection and enhancement to address the larger issue of environmental sustainability. This issue is an important one for the City of Toronto, the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), nationally and internationally. As noted in 1991 by David Crombie in Regeneration, the Final Report of the Royal Commission on the Future of the Toronto Environment:

“Half the world’s people will live in urban areas by the end of this decade. Whether we achieve a greater degree of environmental sustainability over that time will therefore be determined largely by our cities. Surely, sustainability is not possible in the long term unless we can soon find ways to regenerate our urban ecosystems, keep them in good health, and adopt more sustainable lifestyles”.

This was the challenge taken up by the Environmental Task Force.

The scope and importance of the challenge in explained in the background section of Clean, Green and Healthy:

For many years, Toronto has enjoyed a reputation as a vibrant and eminently liveable city. With the amalgamation of seven former municipalities into the City of Toronto on January 1, 1998, the fledgling City began the process of re-inventing itself. Borrowing the best from the past, the newly amalgamated City began to develop the vital strategies that would lead it into the 21st century. These strategies will be expressed as the City’s Official Plan, its Strategic Plan, and its Environmental Plan.

The Preface of this Environmental Plan describes the process taken to develop this plan, which should be appreciated by any community attempting to match this accomplishment:

The City of Toronto Environmental Task Force (the ETF) was created by City Council in March 1998 in the belief that governments, in partnership with citizens and stakeholders,should set the agenda for protecting and enhancing the natural environment. The ETF was made up of City Councillors, City staff, representatives from environmental agencies and citizens representing business, labour and environmental groups, school boards, universities and schools across Toronto.

The fundamental objective of the ETF was to prepare a comprehensive Environmental Plan for the City.

Clean, Green and Healthy: A Plan for an Environmentally Sustainable Toronto (the Environmental Plan) is the result of 22 months of work by the ETF and many other people. It contains a Vision for an environmentally sustainable future, a Sustainability Goal, a set of
Environmental Principles to guide decision-making, and a series of recommendations aimed at improving the health of the natural environment. It also contains a list of interim indicators for
monitoring environmental performance, and recommendations on governance structures and processes that will help build environmental considerations into decision-making processes.

The development of the Environmental Plan began with a series of workshops that were hosted by the ETF in September 1998. These workshops,attended by 100 participants, identified priority issues for the ETF to address, and over 200 potential “Quick Start”actions to improve the health of the environment. Thirty-four of these Quick Start actions were later forwarded by the ETF to City Council and appropriate City departments, and many were subsequently approved by City Council (see Appendix B).

Also in September 1998, the ETF hosted a Vision and Priority Setting Workshop. The outcome of this workshop was a Sustainability Goal, a Vision for a sustainable future, and a set of Environmental Principles to guide decision-making (see section 3.0).

In developing the Environmental Plan,the ETF chose four areas to work in that it believed would help move the City towards sustainability.

These areas were:

  • transportation
  • energy use
  • economic development
  • education and awareness

These areas were selected because they echoed many of the key themes that were raised in the early workshops and include issues that City Council had asked the ETF to work on. They also represented issues in which work is not currently being carried out in a comprehensive way and in which the ETF felt it could play an important role in bringing players together.

To address the above issues, the ETF created the Sustainable Transportation, Sustainable Energy, Green Economy and Education and Awareness Work Groups. The Work Groups were charged with identifying gaps in the coverage of sustainability issues, developing objectives and targets, and identifying policies, strategies and actions to move towards environmental sustainability.

The Work Group Reports are published under separate cover (see Appendix E), and their findings are included in the Environmental Plan in sections 6.0 (Moving Towards Sustainability) and 7.0 (Education and Awareness).

The Work Groups also prepared Directories that list local businesses and organizations working or providing goods and services in these areas. The Directories are posted on the ETF website.

Part of the ETF’s mandate was to recommend a governance structure that would incorporate advanced environmental decision-making into the political and administrative structure of the City. After ten months of discussion, the ETF released a consultation document, “Towards Advanced Decision-Making in the City of Toronto”, which outlined the Task Force’s ideas on sustainability and governance. The document was widely distributed and feedback was solicited on it. Over 200 people commented on the document in writing or at workshops, and the ETF subsequently developed a recommended governance model, which was adopted by City Council in December 1999. The recommendations are included in section 8.0 (Planning, Management and Governance).

The ETF also set up an Indicator Work Group to look at environmental and sustainability monitoring, evaluation and reporting. Its findings are included in section 9.0 of this Plan (Measuring and Reporting Progress).

Involvement of the broad community was a fundamental part of the development of the Environmental Plan. To inform people about the ETF’s work, a newsletter was developed and four issues of it were prepared and widely distributed. The newsletter was a major tool to inform people about ETF activities and progress. All sectors of the community – citizens, business, agencies and environmental organizations - were encouraged to take part in workshops, governance meetings, monthly ETF meetings, or in the Work Groups. In total, about 1,300 people participated in Environmental Task Force activities.

Clean, Green and Healthy is a shared vision for how to get to a cleaner, greener, healthier and more sustainable future. It is a strategic document that contains recommendations about goals, targets, policies, strategies, structures and processes that will lead us in the direction of environmental sustainability. It sets direction in many (but not all) key areas and builds on the environmental protection and enhancement efforts being carried out by the City, other agencies, and hundreds of individuals and organizations in all sectors of society.

This has positioned Toronto to become a great world city-region that is clean, green, healthy and thriving

Throughout the last decade, early environmental planning has evolved into Change is in the Air, described below:

Toronto's bold new Climate Change, Clean Air and Sustainable Energy Action Plan (PDF) will see the City of Toronto and its residents, businesses and communities take action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, clean the air and create a sustainable energy future.

The plan was crafted with substantial public and stakeholder input and is designed to achieve and exceed the Kyoto greenhouse gas reduction target.

In addition to actions to green the City's internal operations, the plan outlines a number of actions that will benefit residents, businesses and community groups including:

  • a Live Green Toronto program to encourage Torontonians to adopt more environmentally friendly lifestyles and reduce energy use at home, work and on the road
  • a framework to renew Toronto's concrete high-rise residential buildings
  • a pilot program for residential solar hot water heating
  • a "one-window" source of information on federal, provincial, municipal, private sector and community programs related to energy and the environment
  • a plan to promote local food production and increase community gardens
  • community energy planning
  • a plan to double Toronto's tree canopy
  • the development of a strategy to adapt to climate change
  • a plan to shift taxis and limousines to low emission or hybrid technology.

The plan calls for initial funding of $42 million for energy conservation measures, $20 million for renewable energy projects and $22 million for retrofitting City facilities.

Toronto's current department level invironmental initiatives are found on the city website here.

Toronto's early, real, community-wide commitment to being clean, green, and healthy is why Toronto may now be the greatest, greenest big city in the world... their investment in their environment has paid off in $ billions of economic activity, a healthier, more livable environment, and more socially conscious and environmentally responsible citizens, positioning Toronto for greatness with more than just the Green Economy.

Toronto government's strong appreciation for the interrelationships of economy, environment and society in a well-manged community has attracted global talent and innovativeness that has transformed the region.

According to the Toronto Region Research Alliance’s second Annual Toronto Region Innovation Gauge (ATRIG), “The Toronto Region has an innovative research base with a highly-educated and growing population that benefits from a diversified manufacturing base and other major advantages compared to its competition.

Their report “analyzes the current strengths and weaknesses of the region relative to other regions with strong research bases, like Silicon Valley in California and Massachusetts, and to more comparable research centres, like the Research Triangle in North Carolina, Montreal, Illinois and Michigan.

There through you find, even in the weak 2008/9 global economy, Toronto continues to attract and retain an increasingly skilled workforce, from around the world, who innovate and transform the community in powerful ways. This is confirmed by data tracked by regional leadership, as illustrated by the charts and analyses below.

The population of the Toronto Region is growing rapidly, fueled by an influx of skilled, educated immigrants from around the world. The region’s economy benefits from diverse industrial sectors outside its traditional manufacturing base (including “fast” companies with strong potential for growth), solid employment levels, superior wages and healthy household income.

The Toronto Region has high levels of post-secondary and post-graduate education in the 25-34 age range, with recent Business, Science and Technology graduates poised to become the next generation of managers and entrepreneurs.

This ongoing performance benchmarking effort offers some valuable data, analyses and indicators for community development planning, which looks beyond any one industry sector or place to the drivers of overall regional innovation and global competitiveness.

And this chart from ATRIG (also shown at beginning of this analysis) shows that the Toronto Region has a wide range of industrial sectors

The X-axis of this graph shows its Location Quotient (LQ)– the employment concentration of industry clusters in the Toronto Region compared to the same industry clusters across North America. Industries with a LQ of one are performing at the average level. Those with a score higher than one have a higher competitive advantage. The chart also shows that salaries are high in many of the region’s larger and stronger sectors. The relative size of the sphere shows the number of people employed in the sector, and many sectors in the region are quite large.

Meric Gertler, Dean of Arts and Science, University of Toronto is quoted by ATRIG as observing, “…what you’re looking at here is really a story of diversity versus one of specialization.”

A comparable analysis of the same metrics for Silicon Valley shows how different two regions may be.

Comparing between multiple regions offers great value and insight for improving community effectiveness, but it is important that comparisons are “Apples to Apples”, relevant and insightful, and that requires experimentation with a broad set of data.

Another way ATRIG compares Toronto and other regions is the relative impact of scientific publications, as measured by Average Relative Impact Factor (a weighted measure of citations in science and social science journals that demonstrates the importance of a journal to its field). Toronto and Montreal are both at the bottom of this field, below all American “comparable” regions, indicating being in Canada has some impact on this analysis.

Another ATRIG analysis of a related outcome of innovativeness, Total Licenses,Patents (Applications and Issued), and Invention Disclosures, Universities and Hospitals, per 100,000 Population, in 2006, shows similar poor performance by the Canadians.

If we put these adjusted results in a scatterplot, the impression of Toronto is poor – and Canadian regions appear to be far underperforming American regions for reasonable innovation outcomes... and inputs!

An ATRIG regional R&D investment analysis surfaces what their report concludes is the driver of “poor” innovation outcomes in Canada - Toronto and Montreal have too low of levels of R&D spending, as compared to spending in the US regions – leading to their recommendations:


  • The Toronto Region needs R&D investment from the federal and provincial governments to strengthen the R&D infrastructure and build a base upon which to train graduate students and attract R&D-intense industries as partners
  • The Toronto Region needs to attract more R&D-intensive companies
  • The Toronto Region needs to look at barriers to R&D in the region and in general

While these outcomes may be desirable, when we look at the ATRIG data a different way we may reach different impressions about the performance of the Canadians. Consider this analysis of the ARTIG data, not part of the ARTIG Study.

Considering a scatterplot of the same measures of Innovation outcomes, adjusted for the levels of R&D spending in each region, Montreal is the Best Performer, followed by Toronto. This is a measure of Innovation outcomes relative to input, and it appears Canadian regions produce more Innovation outcomes per R&D dollar, which seems more impressive than raw output at all costs.

As the world and our global and local economies change, in individual places and as a global system, it is interesting to consider what is needed of innovation changes for the future? It is interesting to consider how regions that performed well in the past, like Research Triangle, may fail in the future, as world cities few people consider “Innovative” grow to dominate certain sectors of the economy, and larger shares of the world economy follow.

As healthcare becomes more socialized, regions with economies centered on innovation in that field, and prosperity through medical R&D, may find their economies unsustainable. As climate change impacts global economies, regions centered on leadership in that field will see their economies thrive.

By any measures, Toronto has positioned itself well for the future of the world economy, and can prove it.

And the best measures of that are found at the City of Toronto.

The reports referenced above and many others are rooted at the city of Toronto Economic Development web portal, offering excellent analyses of Toronto city and metropolitan area trends and issues. Found within 1,000s of pages of reports and presentations, and at many linked websites, are many indicators of the successes and challenges faced by this government, over many years.

From the City website:

Economic Development staff maintains up-to-date and comprehensive economic information and business-related statistics to assist business.

Together with local businesses and other stakeholders, staff create economic development strategies to facilitate economic growth and initiatives that could benefit the city's economy.

Over decades of strategic planning effort, Toronto has demonstrated a rich understanding of performance benchmarks and embedded them in all core action plans, with strict measurement and reporting processes, tracking outcomes over time and relative to comparable market subjects, like similar or “Best in Class” regions.

For Toronto, “Best in Class” regions are the best in the world, and their view of their competition is global.

The City of Toronto Economic Development Department maintains a wide range of timely and historical data of value in analyzing the effectiveness of the region, and publishes monthly reports of findings.

Their January 2009 report features their 2008 data on patents worldwide, placing Toronto 17th. Clearly, this data should be analyzed relative to other factors, like R&D spending.

Between all the data, indicators and analyses found through Toronto about their economic development, there is a treasure-trove of insight. This insight is readily available, via city government, and is thorough and informative, but it is at times difficult to locate and interpret.

The 1998 amalgamation of Toronto into a larger city-region, and formalizing a huge metropolitan area, appears to have driven multiple strategic planning cycles, at all levels of government, often with outside consultant intervention, leaving a confusing trail of major initiatives and visions distributed throughout the many departments of government, through special roundtables and forums, making the outsider unclear what are the current priorities and drivers of change in the community, and who is responsible for which outcomes in the economy, environment and society.

Ultimately, the visitor to the city website is left wondering where the city ends, the region begins, what are the priorities for each, and are all factors working in harmony.

Astoundingly, despite any questions, the ultimate answer appears to be yes, all factors are working in harmony.

The big solutions seems to come from the city-region taking a holistic, general systems approach to economic development, engaging citizens, following consistent community-wide processes to implement changes, embedding changes in the system at the functional level, and measuring performance system-wide, over time and relative to competition.

While the system-wide measures are not clearly integrated into a publicly available enterprise wide information management or analysis systems, proper controls and processes appear to be in place, working, and in use. That remains to be confirmed.

It appears good general systems strategic planning, measurement of performance, and world-class initiative is found supporting all aspects of the Toronto economy, society and environment, leading to continuous innovation in how Toronto is governed for the next generations.

An outstanding example of this is found by returning to a minor aspect of the development of Toronto's Green Economy, rooted at the Economic Development Department's “Climate Change Adaption” web portal, which states “Work is underway to develop a strategy to prepare Toronto for the long-lasting changes in weather patterns that are caused by climate change.

While some communities still question the existence of man-influenced climate change, Toronto Mayor David Miller states:

"While mitigation remains on the forefront of our climate change agenda, it's clear that we must take action now to adapt to the realities of climate change that we see today, and the realities we will see with greater intensity in the future.

National governments are falling behind in taking action on this important issue so it's up to cities to act and that's what Toronto is committed to doing."

With the City of Toronto initiating planning in 2007, and producing an action plan in 2008 - Ahead of the Storm: Preparing Toronto for Climate Change – Toronto has already identified a series of actions to improve Toronto’s resilience to climate change including:

  • A series of short-term actions beginning in 2008 that will help prevent and/or minimize the impacts of climate change in Toronto
  • A series of actions that will guide the City’s development of a comprehensive, long-term strategy to adapt to climate change.

Ahead of the Storm was unanimously endorsed by City Council in July, 2008.

From the supporting web portal:

Examples of actions that will make our infrastructure and buildings more resilient to climate change and improve the city's overall sustainability include:

  • planting more trees to increase shade and clean and cool the air
  • using rain barrels to capture rainwater for reuse
  • using permeable surfaces (rather than asphalt for example) to reduce runoff from heavy rainfalls
  • landscaping with drought-resistant plants and
  • using cool/reflective materials on the roofs of homes and buildings to reduce urban heat

Ahead of the Storm is an outcome of “Change is in the Air: Toronto's Climate Change, Clean Air and Sustainable Energy Action Plan", which was unanimously endorsed by Council in July 2007, and set in motion Toronto's bold and ambitious climate change agenda. The plan includes more than 100 actions to reduce the greenhouse gas and smog-causing emissions which contribute to climate change. It also recommended the development of a comprehensive strategy to adapt to the long-term changes in our weather patterns that are already underway.”

Demonstrating their general systems implementation effectiveness in action, in support of initiatives of “Ahead of the Storm”, the city's building's department has prepared “design guidelines for “greening” surface parking lots”, and everything else mandated in the climate change adaption plan, as illuastrated below.

As impressive as all this appears, to really understand why Toronto is becoming the greatest and greenest big city in the world, and is world-class in so many other aspects of economic development, and overall quality of place, one must return to the foundation of the development of Toronto's first environmental plan: “that governments, in partnership with citizens and stakeholders, should set the agenda for protecting and enhancing the natural environment”.

Natural environment is core to quality of place, which attracts and retains effective human capital, which are core to Economic Competitiveness, as illustrated below, from the 2007 City of Toronto report on “Economic Development in World Cities”.

What is greatest about Toronto is its human capital, best illustrated by one metric: 2,000 apples, as explained in the following Press Release from TEA – the Toronto Environmental Alliance:

Toronto Council says “Yes!” to Local Food and Farmers
Posted October 31st, 2008 by tea

For Immediate Release                                                     October 31, 2008

TORONTO – Late yesterday, Toronto City Council adopted a new policy that will have the City dramatically increase its purchase of local food for its daycares, shelters and seniors’ homes over the next few years.

“This is a major victory for the environment, for farmers, for the Greenbelt and for Torontonians,” said Jamie Kirkpatrick, campaigner for the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA). “The City of Toronto, the sixth largest government in Canada, is the first to adopt a policy to progressively increase its purchase of local food to 50% as soon as possible.”

Over the next year, city daycares will increase their purchase of local food by 40%. In the meantime, city staff will develop a plan to figure out how other city departments can buy 50% local food as soon as possible.

“This policy is a clear signal to farmers in the GTA, the Greenbelt - indeed in all of Ontario- that Toronto wants their food,” says Charles Stevens, of Wilmot Orchards who earlier this month donated 2,000 apples to Toronto City Councillors, one for each Torontonian who signed a petition in support of local food.

Earlier this month, TEA submitted over 2,000 signatures from Torontonians calling on City Council to adopt a local food procurement policy. “It’s nice to see that City Councillors agree with Torontonians that buying local food first is better than buying jet-lagged food,” said Kirkpatrick.

Local food helps the environment by reducing the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from transporting food from far away. As well as being fresher, local food also helps the local economy, local farmers and helps preserve agricultural land in the Greenbelt and surrounding areas.

To promote community support and put public pressure on the city Council deciding the fate of this Green Development economy, environment and social issue, TEA delivered to council the 2,000 locally-grown apples mentioned above – one representing each Torontonian who signed a petition supporting this legislation.

From the TEA Website:

This is a huge step forward for the environment, for the Greenbelt and for Ontario’s farmers. This victory would not have been possible without the clear message sent by more than 2,000 Torontonians who signed our petition and postcards telling Councillors to Avoid Jet-Lagged Food and Buy Local First! Thanks to all of you for help with this important victory!

That is but one victory for TEA, in over 20 years...

Since 1988 TEA has been campaigning locally to find solutions to Toronto's urban environmental problems.

Our Mission is to promote a greener Toronto. We work with concerned individuals, community groups, professionals and workers, encouraging the participation of local people on local issues.

Our Vision of a healthy community is based on equity, access, safety and a clean environment.

Through a grass roots organization, an investment by citizens of 2,000 signatures and apples drove a change in government policy leading to $1,000,000s in new Green Economy development... that seems as good a return on investment as any economic development processes will ever create, and that is what happens freely and openly every day in the great, green, innovative, world-class city-region of Toronto.


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Toronto is a sponge

Back in 2006 when I was searching North American cities for examples of low impact development and softpath methodologies for stormwater retention, Toronto stood out. Not only the fact that they had adopted such practices as downspout disconnection, rain barrels, rain gardens and onsite stormwater management, but the creative ways they had adopted to get the message out to the citizenry were clearly the most forward thinking among all cities in North America.

As Martha and I went to meet with Andrew Watterson and his legal counsel Fran DiDonato to pitch downspout disconnects for the City of Cleveland hoping that the city could be a leader in this practice and that the practice would surely spread to inner ring suburbs and outlying exurbs if adopted to provide relief for the doughnut hole of poverty in the central city of the region, we went armed with examples of Toronto's sponge methodologies - soak it up, retain it onsite to reduce runoff. They agreed it would be a good idea, but we have heard nothing since.

Last week, Martha and I visited NEORSD to discuss their new stormwater program. We presented our query as to why they were not promoting softpath methods in conjunction with the gray infrastructure necessities for reducing runoff.  Their PR marketing professional acknowledged that Toronto had a good campaign. The city's web portal provides plenty of educational material on the matter. For Torontonians, environmental education abounds. They have public service announcements and billboards designed by creative advertising professionals. We have Wally the Waterdrop who offers a coloring book. Indicating that NEORSD which has perhaps the best leverage for a regional (watershed) approach to regionalism in NEO, we asked why they could not drive such forward thinking practices as downspout disconnects (municipalities would have to change ordinances), land use policy changes (such as riparian setbacks and not building on wetlands), building code changes (such as onsite stormwater management and greywater reuse in new construction or retrofits for existing buildings) we were told that each municipality is in charge of their own compliance with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) phase two regulations of the Environmental Protection Agency and that NEORSD was there to help, but green infrastructure would not solve the problem. Why can't a citizen help clean our water we wondered, why does it always seem to be about a father knows best, just pay us and we'll take care of it approach? Even their environmental programs coordinator, Ms. Dreyfuss Wells, (formerly with the blue blood Chagrin River Valley watershed - last cold water habitat in NEO) said that they were leaving those greening initiatives up to the local watershed groups though she acknowledged that their well meaning, Kumbaya singing structures have little impact and even less real brute strength when it comes to changing policies and ordinances.  They do partner with some more sophisticated watershed groups which have earned the right to secure loans through them. They even seem to be on the books asking for federal stimulus dollars to assist with repairing our degraded waterways.

But one thing remains a lost key factor in this process for NEO - citizen engagement. Voices and Choices, while it resembled the approach you describe that Toronto undertook to gain knowledge about how to make Toronto a greener cleaner city and region, focused instead on too many things - not the one thing that would make the region a more desirable place to live and do business.

Last night, in a phone conversation, while lamenting the local penchant for Philanthropy for the Rich - foundation misspending on harebrained initiatives that might polish their tarnished lapel pins, I said "If we could only clean the water, the soil and the air, we might all be able to think more clearly and actually have an innovative idea rather than being last in line to mimic other community's good works". This elicited a laugh, but the listener then acknowledged that it is the Cleveland way.We have this agency and that municipality, this mealy-mouthed advocate and that plaid flannel shirt wearing born again capitalist do-gooder all under the thumb of local foundations bowing and scraping for permission and now grunting and squealing like the pork they desire at the federal stimulus trough. None of it is connected and while it remains so divided we will continue to stand around dazed and confused while other cities prepare for climate change and deal with the environmental degradation wrought by our greed.

Ed Morrison has offered up examples of open network economic development solutions from other cities. Jeff Buster has documented wind energy solutions on land in numerous communities near and far. Bill MacDermott continues to remind us about solar innovations that barely exist in the minds of local officials not to mention on the rooftops of public buildings and schools. Maurice Small and Brad Masi have spoken their vision for local food to thousands and implemented it in raised beds and City Fresh stops throughout the region. Donita Anderson provided a vision for local foods - bringing food from surrounding farmers to markets in the city so local farms could stay afloat connecting city dwellers to their rural farming neighbors. But is anyone listening?

It is not enough to study and suggest, Mr. Beach, Ms. Harlan, Ms. Spear, Mr. White (all of whose laudable efforts are documented on websites and surely more well documented in file drawers). We must come together and present a list of demands for our region and its fragile environment. We must overcome our competitiveness and our fear of losing nonprofit market share for the good of our community.

Nonprofit professionals should have a dream of planned obsolescence. Everyday they should rise and think, if I work smart enough, if I engage and share my best efforts with the community, one day my job will no longer be necessary. It is a long view, but that may be what is needed to help us get over ourselves and come together. With the global economic collapse we have an opportunity (and it isn't a driveway for the Cleveland Clinc and the Cleveland Orchestra): it is an opportunity to lay out plans (we surely already have them largely drafted) to improve the health and well being of every species on the region.  Toronto is a good model. Yes we can.

do we have a Mayor in Cleveland?

when the administrative councils that are sUPPosed to be moving us forward respond to progressive ideas with answers like:

"...they were leaving those greening initiatives up to the local watershed groups..."

it sorta seems to me that we are lacking any leadership in this city. I mean, thats the sort of thing a mayor does, right?


We have a Cleveland Foundation employee sitting behind the Mayor's desk... putting in place all the Foundation staff to run the region further down the toilet.

But look how rich some prople are becomeing... !

The rich get richer, off the poor... now a federal level theft!

Disrupt IT

federal level is right

Now we get to watch as volunteer infrastructure czar, Cleveland Foundation CEO Ronn Richard doles out the stimulus.

I visited the Ohio recovery site yesterday and downloaded the requests. Ha! Check it out and see what your friends and neighbors are requesting. No shit, it's everything and the kitchen sink. See the holes in every budget - even the ones that are already funded via some other mechanism.

The point where I had to guffaw was when I read that Verb Ballets is requesting $250/week to train four dancers for 4 weeks this summer to create 4 jobs. That's the best joke I have heard in a long time.

Toronto to lead North America in green roofs

Reuters find of the day:

Toronto's new green roof law a first for North America

Bylaw requires some new developments to devote almost 60% of roof space to vegetation.
In a first for a North American city, Toronto recently passed a new law mandating "green" rooftops for all new developments. Any new construction with floorspace of more than 2,000 square meters must devote between 20 and 60 percent of its roof to vegetation. The rule applies to residential, commercial, industrial and institutional structures.
Where is Cleveland with green roofs? Can we count them on one hand?, two hands?
And when Norm suggested vertical farming in the Breuer, I looked this up: Vertical farming or farmscrapers". It sort of makes sense, eh? The Breuer was built to grow money, but we see that this does not work. Perhaps it could grow food...

why we need leadership training

On many occasions when walking with friends in the city or at an event, I have had the wave and smile, hug or handshake of numerous people. Yes, I am acquainted with several people, acquainted. I bet there are many more like me. Geez, just look at Lillian Kuri's connections on linkedin or Tim Ferris's. My colleagues said, "you should run for office, you know so many people". Whoa there Nellie! Just because I sat with lots of parents on bleachers at little league and soccer, sat in theaters and concert halls with them does not make me a candidate. So how does one become elected? (I might also wonder why someone would want to carry this burden, but that's another subject).

Does a Mayor get a job interview? Does a city council person get elected because of their understanding of environmental or economic development issues? Or is it just because they are acquainted with a lot of people?

Since we are gonna need new leadership (BOCC must be replaced), it begs the question: Why doesn't someone offer a workshop in what it takes to be an effective elected official? Does anyone do this in our region? I don't know. Do you need a background in law or political science or just to belong to a large congregation? Could you come from a background in community organizing or do you need that Harvard Law degree? What sort of challenges will face you if you are elected? I am not interested in public office - don't feel equipped to serve, but it seems that those who are may not necessarily be well equipped either. And if the challenges are scaring off potential young or old challengers, then maybe an education or an introductory cousre is in order. League of Women Voters?

Leadership training here is much of the problem

Ever here of "Bridge Builders", etc... Cleveland Foundation are experts at brainwashing.

All "Leaders" here need to go away for a long time, live someplace normal, and then come back and make this place more normal, if they care.



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that's not what I meant at all


You know I agree with you and I am not in favor of bridge dismantlers or feel good societies. I want to know who (not foundation tied with a ball and chain) might like to lead, has an idea and just doesn't know how to get off square one.

Respectfully I ask again. Perhaps you would post what you feel would be important qualities in the person for whom you would campaign. Please include what sort of knowledge base would be applicable. Does Mayor have a job description? Maybe it should.

Someone like Obama

I've had one meeting with Ronn RIchards, that I recall. David Reed of Kent Urban Design set it up for he and I to introduce to Ronn the new mayor of East Cleveland, Mayor Brewer, and explain planning work we had done over the previous few years. I'll save what have been some of the outcomes from this meeting for other days, but will share a comment Ronn made about Mayor Jackson, which is telling about how we must attack the issue of leadership here... he said he always liked Jackson because he did whatever they told him to do.

And he has, and we have this mess on our hands.

Obviously, it is through the support of powerful people like Ronn Richards and friends that people like Jackson are able to amass the $ millions to pay for today's campaigns for office - and Jackson has an industry-funded warchest designed just to keep all challengers at bay... daring people to attempt to match his fundrainsing and advertising power.

With the PD as his personal public relations service, Jackson's campain costs are actually quite low... unless faced by a good challenger.

We solve all our leadership problems by eliminating Jackson, Richards, his friends and their followers from our public lives.

What I want in leaders is ndependent, intelligent, empatheric, decent, honest, innovative, thinkers, doers seers, and speakers - you can't create good leaders, they create themselves.

You may create a community that nurtures people to become good leaders, but Northeast Ohio fails miserably at that and has my entire lifetime.

Toronto offers good solutions that draw many internationals who transform Toronto in globally exciting ways that make all citizens better.

We need new blood at the top of nearly every Foundation and non-profit in town... not just Mayor.

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We could use some "young candidates"

This documentary - "The Youngest Candidate" was shown at Powershift '09, a climate and energy summit attended by 10,000+ young people last weekend in DC.  There have to be some young people in NEO who have not yet been anesthetized by foundation/nonprofit soothese- "we hear you, we "care", now let's stifle your questions with another study.... maybe we could get ahold of a copy and show it - Realneo goes to the movies?

REALNEO goes to the movies... Cleveland International Film Fest

Funny you should mention REALNEO going to the movies. Evelyn contacted the organizers of the Cleveland International Film Festival for media access and she is covering it for REALNEO, and will have reviewer copies of the films in advance.

If some folks want to help with reviewing movies at the Film Festival - and showing REAL NEO support by promoting and attending it - get in touch with Evelyn... and plan to attend the 33rd Cleveland International Film Festival and show love for something real, NEO, and at the core of our community.

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I've been thinking about how deeply rooted the problem is..

I agree with you completely, Martha. And I know some great young people who will be great leaders in life... already are... and that shows early.

I've been thinking about the roots of the problems in real NEO, including the impact of white flight and sprawl on education and so leadership development here, and how powerful the Catholic and sprawl schools are in defining the leadership here... how many elected officials from here went to St. Ig or Ed and JCU? And how large a percentage of the regional population is now sprawled and going to suburban and xurban schools that are almost entirely white student bodies, with very little contact with our regional core and diverse populations, much less appreciation for the importance of diversity.

How do we teach these children about the importance of such things, when their parents designed their lives to be segregated from all that. And what type of adults will those young people become, growing up in such cultural isolation?

Really frightening, for this region.

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