James Levin - who knew?

Submitted by Susan Miller on Sun, 10/04/2009 - 17:06.

Sometimes it is hard for me to catch up. 40+ hours per week digging, pulling, plucking and gathering, cutting and washing vegetables on the farm leave little time for me to catch up on what's new in Cleveland. So today I went digging for the recent stuff (hoopla) about the "new" Gordon Square Arts District. I watched videos and heard the yuppie mantras repeated (like they have a script that includes name dropping - SoHo, Dupont Circle, the numbers of businesses and economic development and jobs projection numbers). I read articles from this and that news outlet, but not one video interview, nor the Gordon Square Arts District website mentioned James Levin. I had caught a story on WCPN on the drive home one day about "early adopter", Nikki Gilotta of Gypsy Beans. Early adopter? What about a pioneer? How about a story about community development leader extraordinaire, rough rider, James Levin?

(photo courtesy of IngenuityFest website)

I saw this bit of propaganda in the PD: Community, cooperation building Cleveland's Gordon Square Arts District Sunday, September 20, 2009 Lawrence N. Schultz (Schultz is chairman of the Gordon Square Arts District and a partner with Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP.)

In this piece of editorial advertising, Mr. Schulz states, "Only 2 years old, the Gordon Square Arts District..." Whoa, hold on there just a minute, Mr. Schulz. James Levin launched the Gordon Square Arts District (a do-over of the Westside Arts Consortium) in 2004. That's 5 years using my arithmetic. (Note: Schulz is on the board of the GSAD - maybe he thinks the world began on his birthday, too.)

Meanwhile, community development wizard and serial arts entrepreneur, James Levin got a new position while Clevelander's weren't paying attention (or maybe we were just watching for invitations to his latest fantastic Cleveland IngenuityFest event - the Bridge Project - where he continues a long tradition of collaboration.)

I still find it interesting that Joy Roller (who Levin hired as an intern-way to not acknowledge your former boss), Jeff Ramsey, Matt Zone and Thomas Mulready could not find a second or even a split second to say two words - "James Levin". Raymond Bobgan is the only person who mentioned his predecessor. Go Raymond! Thank you Dee Perry for asking the question about Levin. Here's the rest of the story (or the James Levin part of it). It goes back much farther than 2007. Just ask Matt Zone, Jeff Ramsey, Joy Roller or Ray Pianka or Linda Eisenstein (who collaborated with Levin on 2 notable productions - Star Wares 1989 and Discordia 2003). They were there (well maybe not Ms. Roller). Did they not regularly see Levin at CPT? 

In this WCPN story, Roller says that a model where three arts orgs selflessly go togther in a capital campaign must have forgotten Levin's Westside Arts Consortium model wherein Levin got money for ArtHouse and SPACES in addition to money for his own CPT from the state budget.

So we don't lose James Levin to College of Wooster, but we seem to have forgotten his role here in the GSAD - he started it ferchrissakes. We'll still have (fingers crossed) Ingenuity and its offshoot collaborations. I just wish that we could better recall a big chunk of how the district became a district.

Just one more question: Can Matt Zone pronounce "ing"?

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I've never been able to figure out how, or why, Levin gets things going and then gets squeezed out. I've watched it over the years, where he has the vision and takes the risk and then the secular nonprofit careerists move in to do the takeover when things are safe, and established, and just beginning to pay off. The nepotism around here can be stifling. What's the relationship of this Roller person to Jan Roller, George Roller, Brad Roller, David Abbott, and all the various compromised and conflicted foundations around town? What's the Calfee Halter tie-in, business-wise? In a small town laden with mediocre talent with connections, guys like Levin make the usurpers uncomfortable.

Tim, have you seen who squeezed out Levin?

Regarding the way overblown Gordon Square Arts District... look at the "Leadership" - couldn't let Levin get any credit with all these massive egos to stroke...

Honorary Chairs:
Dick and Pat Pogue, Advisor, Jones Day
Albert and Audrey Ratner, Co-Chairman of the Board, Forest City Enterprises
Tom and Sandy Sullivan, Chairman, RPM International, Inc.

LLC Board:
Carrie Carpenter, Vice President, Director of Public Affairs, Charter One Bank
David Doll, Senior Vice President, UBS Financial Services
Peter Harwood, Partner, Deacon Harwood Law
John Nestor, CEO and Senior Managing Partner, Kirtland Capital Partners
Larry Schultz, Partner, Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP
Kevin Shaw, Board President, Cleveland Social Venture Partners
Steve Siemborski, Partner, Grant Thornton
William H. Smith, Partner, William H. Smith and Associates, L.P.A.
Alternate Board Members:
Paul Ettorre, Relationship Manager, KeyBank Community Development Lending
Ray Kalich, Retired VP, Federal Reserve Bank
Collette Appolito, Executive Director, The Presidents Council

John Carney, Managing Partner, Landmark RE Management LLC
Tana Carney, Civic Leader
Umberto Fedeli, President, The Fedeli Group
John Feighan, Volunteer and Philanthropist
Mark Filippell, Managing Director, Western Reserve Partners
Chuck Fowler, President and CEO of Fairmount Minerals
Char Fowler, Volunteer
joan and vic gelb, President, vic gelb, inc
Ann Harlan, VP, General Counsel and Secretary, The J.M. Smucker Company
Robert Jackson, Partner, Jackson, Dieken & Associates
Betty Kemper, President and CEO, The Kemper Company
John Lewis, Senior Counsel, Squire Sanders and Dempsey
Bill and Adele Malley, Co-Chairmen, Malley’s Chocolates
Jim Malz, President, Northeast Ohio Region, JPMorgan Chase Bank
Adelbert (Chip) Marous, President, Marous Brothers Construction
Robert G. McCreary III, Chairman, CapitalWorks and University School Board Chair
Merry McCreary, Volunteer
Dr. Hermann Menges, (retired) Professor of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University
Sally Menges, Volunteer
Mike Merriman, President and CEO, Lamson and Sessions
John R. Mueller, President, CapitalWorks
David P. O’Neill, Managing Director and Partner, Colliers Ostendorf-Morris
Dr. David Perse, President, Lutheran Hospitals
Larry Pollock, Managing Partner, Lucky Stars Partners
Jeffrey Pollock, Attorney, McDonald Hopkins
Ron Rasmus, President, Great Lakes Towing
Marty Rodriguez, Vice President, National City Bank
Jan Roller, Attorney, Davis & Young
Jim Schoff, Vice Chairman & Chief Investment Officer, Developers Diversified
George Wasmer, Former Chairman, Catholic Charities Corporation
Ann Zoller, Executive Director, ParkWorks

Disrupt IT

an interesting grouping

This is an extremely interesting agglomeration of people. How did they all come together, you might ask?

After that, other questions burble to the surface: How many of these people actually do anything? How many actually show up, and where? When you have so many ganged together, it's almost certain that nothing will get done, or have to get done, except fundraising, and that leaves operations pretty much to the hired help, the secular nonprofit professionals. Do you think they actually engineer it toward that sort of functionality?

Nice of you to be real about Levin - introducing CoolWooster

It seems our leaders would like us to live by a different reality than is real - this is not the work of the little puppies pissing all over Detroit Shoreway... this is the work of the usual dirty old dogs pissing on the whole region, writing their own documentaries about the new world order they are creating here. Lovely, isn't it.

I'm glad Levin has moved on, and I'm happy for Wooster - those students are in for a great learning experience.

But, in Cleveland+Foundation, life is by pattern book... it's CoolCleveland.

Congratulations, CoolWooster!

Disrupt IT

Matt Zone versus Martin Sweeney

  The Gordon Square Arts District is the epicenter over the petty political turf wars going on in Cleveland City Council.  I would like to see more discussion of the council candidate races (besides Ward 14) here in Cleveland. 

We know the givens, candidates like Joe Cimperman running unopposed (and rumored to get appointed to Rep Mike Skindell's seat after the election)--who will they support?  (Who will Cimperman appoint to his ward??)

Jeff Johnson versus Shari Cloud, Olga Sabrinowska versus Anthony Brancatelli...I would like to know more about these decisive races...

(BTW--Susan, thanks for giving credit here at REALNEO, where credit is DUE to James Levin for his pioneer role as a stakeholder in the Gordon Square neighborhood).