"I have recommended Cuyahoga County convene and sponsor overarching Greater Cleveland Food and Information Advisory Councils"

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Tue, 11/16/2010 - 18:02.

It is interesting to see published in Crain's Cleveland Business today Study advocates creation of NEO Food Authority to aid in localizing region's food supply that reports "A comprehensive study that examines the state and potential of Northeast Ohio's food economy calls for the creation of a NEO Food Authority that would facilitate a 25% shift in localizing the region's culinary and agriculture systems." That's the leading recommendation I made in my Preamble: Real Co-op for Open Food, Information and Community Development 2009, which I developed with one of the authors of the study Crain's references today, Brad Masi, about two years ago.

To optimize value in these critical sectors, I have recommended Cuyahoga County convene and sponsor overarching Greater Cleveland Food and Information Advisory Councils, like and associated with the Greater Cleveland Lead Advisory Council, and county leaders should take active roles leading the councils and in planning these multi-billion-dollar sectors of our economy and society... we must not entrust the leadership, innovation, financial engineering and decision-making control to under-engaged government and over-engaged foundations, academe, industry and non-profits.

Planning these sectors should not happen behind closed doors in any ways at all, as has been the case in the past.

Crain's is reporting on "Economist Michael Shuman, who is part of the local and national consulting team that has conducted the Northeast Ohio Local Food Assessment, presented the study's findings Tuesday, Nov. 16, to a sold-out meeting at the City Club of Cleveland." Apparently, a bunch of Foundation-paid consultants have finished planning local foods behind closed doors.

The report is found at the NEO Food Web portal - you must register for access, which seems open to the public, and Drupal.... see Summary of NEO Local Food Assessment and Plan after you have set up an account... or just click the following link for a 354 KB .PDF of the "summary" report (the only report posted)... Summary of The 25% Shift- Northeast Ohio Local Food Assessment and Plan.

The authors of this study came to conclusions similar to mine, which I published in For REAL COOP Members, Draft Executive Summary of INFO FOOD Initiatives for Cuyahoga County, July, 2009... except we diverge on the root causes why, going on two years after I pointed out the obvious facts now being validated by Masi et al, we remain in a poor state of community health, with most citizens not benefiting from public investments in community redevelopment, which may have better supported real local community food outcomes.

The Crain's coverage, the new report being puffed, and the back-slapping session at the City Club were all clearly designed to celebrate local successes with food, as there is extensive greenwashing underway in Northeast Ohio.... e.g. "The city of Cleveland is considered an innovation center for urban agriculture, with zoning, procurement and land bank policies"... Brad Masi's New Agrarian Center helped produce the self promoting Polycultures documentary... Cleveland leaders seek comfort in food. From Crain's:

According to the assessment, the 16-county Northeast Ohio region has the framework to develop a self-sustaining food economy:


  • The study found that Cleveland has 225 community gardens, 12 farmers markets, community-supported agriculture subscriptions, urban farms, talented chefs and local food procurement programs. Environmental web site Sustain-Lane ranked Cleveland as the second-best local food city, behind Minneapolis, because of these assets.
  • The region has a diversity of agricultural systems and innovative models for food production.
  • The city of Cleveland is considered an innovation center for urban agriculture, with zoning, procurement and land bank policies.
  • The region is rich in entrepreneurial and educational resources

Crain's quotes this study finding "barriers" in the way of local foods in Northeast Ohio, which are actually just realities of poor planning and leadership here:

Yet formidable obstacles are preventing the system from functioning cohesively. Among the barriers are:

  • Concentrations of rural and urban poverty, which limit investment, entrepreneurship and purchasing power available for local food.
  • There are food deserts throughout Cleveland, Youngstown, Akron and Lorain in which residents have more access to fast-food joints than grocery stores.
  • The inefficient processing and distribution systems stymie local food producers from expanding into retail and institutional markets.

To overcome these obstacles, the study makes 50 recommendations for new programs, policies and investment opportunities, the most significant of which is the NEO Food Authority.

Mr. Shuman said the organization potentially would be owned and capitalized by thousands of the region's stakeholders and would require $1 million to $5 million to become operational.

The NEO Food Authority could be financed through foundations, grants, new markets tax credits or local banks looking to fulfill their community reinvestment goals. The organization would issue tax-exempt bonds and provide seed capital to leverage new businesses and initiatives.

These so-called “meta-businesses” would support the local food movement on a cash-positive basis, the study says. Some suggestions include the creation of local debit, credit and gift cards for local food businesses; local food alliances or food malls; food-based incubators; and food hubs.

Of course... "The NEO Food Authority could be financed through foundations". As I wrote in my Preamble, "some people in Northeast Ohio are embedded in processes to control community development and so local foods a certain “foundation” way".

Of course... planning of strategies for diverting public funds has been taken over by Foundation wonks and been done behind closed doors - Crain's points out: "The study was commissioned by the Cleveland Foundation, ParkWorks, Urban Design Center of Kent State University, Neighborhood Progress Inc. and the Cleveland-Cuyahoga Food Policy Coalition, all organizations represented among the 250 attendees."

Talk about the rich enriching the rich. Let them eat City Club cake.

We just blew like $billion in Obama money re-imagining , demolishing, deconstructing and window dressing Cleveland for the rich... aka the Strategic Investment Initiatives... now we NEED FOUNDATIONS to steer all money ever dedicated here to public health and local foods to the rich as well?!?!


My explanation, in Preamble, for our regional shortcomings in local foods, local economic development - and this two-year lack of action to solve problems that are obvious - remains today "some people in Northeast Ohio are embedded in processes to control community development and so local foods a certain “foundation” way", going on to point out:

Much of the effort required to drive positive change ahead is documenting, analyzing and overcoming these barriers, so our regional new economy may grow... doing things the “Citizen Hauser” way. That will best be accomplished by a community of concerned citizens, as a cooperative.

As an economist, competitive analyst, consultant, entrepreneur and concerned citizen, I've been observing and confronting many barriers to innovation here, for over 15 years, and they must be overcome for the optimization of local entrepreneurship in any opportune economic sectors like local foods and open source social computing, or to do anything paradigm-breaking like REALNEO.US and REAL CO-OP

Rather than nurture open collaboration and entrepreneurship here, leadership has structured strict command and control, top-down systems to keep as much public wealth and power within a small community of close “friends and families”, sprawled throughout the region, supported with foundations of once immense wealth once here, now crumbling like so much of our sprawling infrastructure.

Overcoming these barriers at the community level will redirect sufficient resources to enable progress for an astounding number of stakeholders in many economic sectors now hoping for trickle-down benefits of top-down approaches to economic opportunity, social equity and community building.

We all know how trickle down economics is supposed to work, and that it only benefits those at the top.

Empowered citizens will build a much better community than the people now in control and working against citizen interests.

The truth is as follows:

To proceed developing a healthy, open new economy here, we must analyze, document and eliminate the root causes of economic development failure, starting with the command and control system.

At the very top, the Command and Control strategy of this region is defined through Master Planning by some leadership at the Cleveland Foundation and other foundations, driven by Ronn Richards, Brad Whitehead and many other foundation staff and consultants, empowered by their Fund for our Economic Future and its sprawling affiliate initiatives, influencing many non-profits and their leadership, the Plain Dealer and other media interests present here, Mayor Jackson and many of his appointees and department directors, many Cleveland City Council members, many in their CDCs and their staff and leadership, academics and staff at our universities, many suburban mayors, Governor Strickland, many Northeast Ohio representatives in Columbus and Washington, D.C., and an astounding number of their best friends and family, to benefit many dominant business leaders and major real estate developers with local interests here, who have a dominant control over the top of the pyramid, being the leadership of our many foundations (all hereinafter “They/Them/Their”).

That list may seem like everyone in government, industry and community development in the region, but the problem is largely a few power brokers at the top of the pyramid, and their paid lieutenants – the other 1,000s of people carrying out their plan are mostly paid employees in tough times, misdirected by a few hundred “community leaders”, some good but misguided... others corrupt, all who are in pursuit of the $ billions controlled directly by the foundation leaders.

They use Their $ billions to control many $ billions more of public funding, and They attempt to control more daily, and all parties involved are responsible for how that money is allocated and spent.

Their strategy is simple... they pursue to control all of the government workforce, health, education, social services, research, economic and other community development money and opportunities that come into or through this region, from any sources, that they may, and direct as much of that as possible to inside interests... often with flagrant patronage for direct friends and family.

Through CDCs and other non-profits, a small number of foundation leaders and operatives have developed private workforces of indirect employees controlling $ billions a year in public money, in Northeast Ohio alone. This represents the privatization and misallocation of $ billions in taxpayer economic development and other money to inside interests, with government blessing and assistance, without consulting taxpayers. In fact, all of this has been done behind closed doors.

A current example of their modus operandi in action is exploiting $10s millions of HUD urban redevelopment money through the Cleveland Foundation's Strategic Investment Initiative, benefiting Their friends and closest stakeholders, like the Cleveland Clinic.

They've been doing such things for years, but now They raise the stakes, in exploitation of the difficult economic times here, by attempting to corrupt the good will of our new President.

They have attempted to position their initiatives and leaders to divert to their corporate and institutional interests the $ billions expected in 2009 stimulus dollars for Ohio.

In Their strategic investment initiatives for this most impoverished region, with the most impoverished city in the country, social services and human welfare are lost concepts.

Where is the funding for really valuable education reform, workforce development, small business and distressed homeowner code violation repair loans... real changes where they are needed and have been promised to the people who made Obama our President of the United States of America, for change.

Where is the social equity value added in Their vision for the bottom of the new economy?

Where is there any distinct economic development value added from Their diversion of public money into industrial investments at the top of the old economy?

For this entire century, They have been forcing upon the region an industrial economic development strategy that failed the region from the beginning, and turned measurably disastrous several years ago, when it really took hold.

For the whole story, read Preamble: Real Co-op for Open Food, Information and Community Development 2009 and For REAL COOP Members, Draft Executive Summary of INFO FOOD Initiatives for Cuyahoga County, July, 2009... I look forward to seeing more of the Northeast Ohio Local Food Assessment, beyond this summary. As I'm now registered at the NEO Food Web, I assume I'll learn of important developments.

I'm especially interested in seeing if the authors anticipate the transformation in urban and rural agriculture ahead that will most change our local, regional and state economy, and intergrate with many systems supporting local foods, which is the legalization of cannabis in Ohio and the change that will come when the region becomes the open source capital of the brightest greenest state of Earth - after the current Foundations in failure are cleared out of the way.

NEO_Summary_11.16.pdf354.38 KB

Where this stands today... waiting for other shoe to drop

Where this stands today... waiting for other shoe to drop.

All planning for transformation in this region came to a stop over the past year, as the muck of corruption and the certainty of termination of most regional leadership, to the Governor, meant no major changes and decisions may be made impacting the region.

Now, significant change in state and regional leadership upon us - and still to come - and the uncertainly over President Obama's likeliness to win a second term - and the weakness of the financial state he and Bush put our nation in - bring uncertainly to everything about planning for Ohio.

The last two years represent one of the greatest eras of lost opportunity this region shall ever see, squandered by idiotic, corrupt Democratic sell-out politicians and the corrupt corporate executives and kingpins who own them, and stole all the citizens' money.

Disrupt IT