05.26.05 Forum: Sustainability of Sustainability Redux

Submitted by DerekArnold on Fri, 05/27/2005 - 12:26.

A lot of conversation has come from a few of us that attended the REI Regional Meeting: University Collaborative on sustainability. What were your opinions and what do you feel next steps should be?

re: race and inclusion

 Earlier today, I got an e-mail from Georgia Reash (some of you received it as well).  She got some ideas flowing back and forth from recipients of that message, of which I am one.  My reply had to do with Ms. Reash's point about being more racially inclusive.  My comment was this:

As far as improving representation of people of color, it's not as much
> venue (because Downtown should be considered everyone's neighborhood--
> it's often not treated as such but that should change) but culture.
> Reaching out to people of color and any other marginalized group in an
> inclusive way is a must.  People don't want to go where their voice
> isn't heard.  Many of the big plans handed down from on high have left
> the working folks of Cleveland empty handed while the powerful get more
> so (e.g. stadiums,office tower etc.).
> Also, contrary to popular belief, African - Americans (I call on
> personal experience for this) tend to be, as a whole, moderately
> conservative.  Many black people are of the mindset "yes, but what will
> it do for our neighborhood?  We don't want to put effort into building
> this if we get no benefit or others get benefit and we still have
> problems that go unheeded or grow." This may sound pessimistic but look
> at the history of African-Americans in Cleveland and in the US as a
> whole and there are precedents for this kind of behavior.  While
> Cleveland prospered, there were neighborhoods where black people
> couldn't walk, much less rent (let alone purchase) a home.  They were
> working hard to make this city great like everyone else but they were
> less able to reap benefit. So, it has happened before.  Can this be
> turned around? Absolutely! How? By inclusion and genuine compassion and
> concern for people of all colors.  This means NO bad schools, NO digital
> divide and NO suffering children.  Be MAD that these things exist in any
> neighborhood, not just your own.  This is idealistic but I think that
> this region has the resources to make this more real than fiction.

 What's your take(s) on this?

Derek Arnold / d.arnold at realinks dot us

Have inclusion - will travel

I suppose it depends upon the event. I was awed by the diversity at the coming out party for the COSE Business Plan Challenge (closes in July, if you're planning to submit), which was held at the unlikely venue of the Tower Press Building, downtown. Likewise, if the bill fits, the City Club attracts a diverse crowd.  It's up to each organization and initiative sponsoring events to actively engage a diverse audience, if they seek diversity, as they should - for our East Cleveland outreach to include residents of East Cleveland, we took our activities there, but diversity has then followed our activities to the City Club... we're making that a priority.


I'll differ with you on the venue issue. Since we have such a large population of poor African-Americans in the county, we need to consider how easy a venue is to reach for the people who would have the most difficulty reaching the location. The other issue is finding the place where they would be the most comfortable,. Both would most likely be near home.

Prosperous, educated, worldly people of any race are likely to be comfortable in a wide variety of locations, but others would be much more likely to attend if the venue were chosen with them in mind.

re: venue

 I argue that difficulty is more psychological than physical especially if it's a difference between say some venue at Case or a venue in East Cleveland.  However, I do believe that venues in the affected areas are important and imperative but I think that encouraging folks to come and express themselves about the welfare and well-being of their neighborhood is a little more important unless location detracts from their ability to do so...which is another problem.

Derek Arnold / d.arnold at realinks dot us

Making sustainability a diverse solution

So how does NEO make sustainability a diverse solution? If we want to see wind power and solar as part of the redevelopment of urban neighborhoods, it is time to bring residents into the discussions on why they should care. The same goes for making NEO lead free by 2010 - everyone in every neighborhood must be included as part of the solution.

A first step would be to explore the diversity of the sustainability solution providers. How many representatives and members of entrepreneurs for sustainability represent minority population groups - women, Asian, Latin American, African American, Native American, etc. The same question for EcoCity Cleveland, the Green City Blue Lake initiative - and the Center For Regional Economic Issues mailing list - map the networks for diversity - consider diversity of boards of directors as well. Make outreach to diverse populations a priority - take the messages to the neigborhoods... these ideas are consistent with the discussions at the break-out sessions at the Ritz.

We must ask how are sustainability messages communicated in the community. Are we making a proactive effort to spread the word in diverse neighborhoods - among the Cleveland and surrounding neighborhood city councils, development corporations, schools, churches and other civic organizations.

These questions do not just apply to sustainability but to all community initiatives, and lack of diverse vision in such pursuits is a major reason the community can't come together when it is time for action, like when the Cleveland schools levy comes to a vote this fall. But this is also a major issue in identifying entrepreneurs to support and including future leaders in community building today.

One necessity to accomplish this is to bridge the digital divide, as online is where the sophisticated initiatives transforming this region will occur. If a resident cannot receive emails notifying them about events impacting their neighborhoods and the region, they cannot be included in outcomes. As our region as a whole becomes more sophisticated with social computing, the region will transform, but the divide separating the have-nots will become a bigger problem that will increasingly obstruct optimal progress.

makin sustainability diverse

When the discussion turns to solar power in East Cleveland, many are interested in funding.
When the discussion turns to wind power, a few are interested.
When I mention the short payback time for geothermal, everyone perks up their ears.
Terah and I are discussing solar and geothermal for Helen S. Brown. We're planning to seek funding.
In my mind, the issue is bringing the discussion to local groups more than bringing local people to regional groups, primarily because I've been more successful that way.

This is why I keep suggesting bringing REALNEO and REI people to East Cleveland, though I continue to attempt to bring East Cleveland people to E4S, the City Club, REI, etc.

Making sustainability commonplace in East Cleveland

It is very exciting to see interest develop for renewable energy solutions for East Cleveland - I can imagine no greater next step for the sustainability movement in NEO than deployment of a dozen small scale wind turbines, 1000s of solar panels, and scores of geothermal systems in this wonderful community so many have considered stagnant - this vision is consistent with the broad interest of region leaders to transform East Cleveland as a new world center of new urbanism. Let's make broad sustainability happen community-wide here first!

Let's not forget East Cleveland is already home of the Coit Famers Market, making the community a leader in locally grown food, and Phil Lane and Herb Crowther are planning other sustainability-related initiatives there.

What else should be part of a vision for a sustainable East Cleveland? Who wants to help make a difference with this?

East Cleveland pursuing New Urbanist sustainability excellence

The ongoing East Cleveland 2010 initiative to transform the City of East Cleveland into a model of excellence in urban planning for the world has a strong focus on sustainability. At the 05.31.05 NEO Excellence Roundtable and the 06.01.05 East Cleveland Excellence Roundtable participants strategized on how susainability fits with the New Urbanism vision that is core to this community's strategic plan. East Cleveland already demonstrates excellence in many ways with sustainability, including recycling, energy conservation and even solar - over the next six months a broader sustainability master plan will be in place. Everyone in NEO interested in these matters is invited to support this initiative by participating in these Excellence Roundtables. Read notes on this visioning here - you will need to log-in... instructions at the home page.