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2019 summit 'showcases' its talents, progress

Marc Lefkowitz  |  02/04/10 @ 9:00am

The city reconvened participants from the Cleveland 2019 Sustainability Summit yesterday to gauge progress and assess the needs of twenty 'Outcome Groups' that formed at the summit in August. Three months later, progress ranges widely-from a start-up business being pursued, to groups connecting with existing nonprofits and community development orgs, to pledges and policy recommendations written and submitted to the city to others still searching for guidance.

Around 100 people, most of them co-chairs from the 20 groups, were on hand. With a process as messy as convening 700 people to figure out a new direction for the city and a post-summit structure that is still taking shape, progress could be measured in baby steps. Still, many of the groups are moving ahead, setting goals and meeting regularly to figure out strategies.

The Green Building, Local Food and Vacant Land are examples where 2019 is taking on the look and feel of an existing network. Of all the groups at the summit, Green Building set probably the most ambitious goal-Retrofit 100% of buildings for 50% energy reductions. The group has two sub-committees looking at retrofits and codes with each meeting once a month and being led by Michele Kilroy, director, Northeast Ohio Green Building Coalition and Mandy Metcalf, director, Affordable Green Housing Center at Environmental Health Watch. The Green Building group had some progress to share, including a draft letter of support for the city and the state to adopt stronger building codes. The draft letter has been submitted to Mayor Frank Jackson for his input.

Also sitting on Mayor Jackson's desk is "The Cleveland Commitment: A promise for our region's sustainable future" written collectively by a Public Compact group. The pledge was written at the summit, polished up by the group and submitted to the mayor last month. The next task is getting it to the public to digest and sign on support. Click here to download the pledge which can be signed and mailed to the city.

Not all of the action is heading Jackson's way-the city's $500,000 investment in 58 pilot projects to remove vacant land from the Land Bank for growing food, treating stormwater and testing the efficacy of plants drawing toxins from the soil made headlines this week.

The Vacant Land group from the 2019 summit includes the stewards of the ReImagine a more sustainable Cleveland study, Bobbi Reichtell of Neighborhood Progress, Inc. and Terry Schwarz of the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative. Rather than reinvent the wheel, the 2019 group is figuring out how it can upload ReImagine 2.0-the city, NPI and UDC plan to identify locations and design 'catalytic' vacant land reutilization projects. The 2019 group is interested in the ReImagine 2.0 community outreach project which will inform the process with what group member Mark Chupp calls 'indigenous knowledge' from the neighborhood.

The local food group is tapping the same energy that drew 400 people to an E4S event on local food, that has propelled the Cleveland-Cuyahoga Food Policy Coalition and localfoodcleveland.org, and Cleveland's ordinance allowing residents to raise chickens and keep bees in their backyards. The 2019 Local Food group is figuring out how to turn an active network of advocates and urban farmers on to far more ambitious goals such as creating jobs for 10,000 local farmers. Part of the strategy is its GROWHIO, an buy local campaign which is beginning to take shape.

A concensus is emerging for clearer, more dedicated communications between the groups – to share stories and chart progress. And for more guidance on how to pursue projects. Cleveland Chief of Sustainability, Andrew Watterson, promised that the 2019 mini-summit on December 15 will carve out a scope of work and an RFP for the communications and project management work going forward. The 2019 Council, which will also meet in December, will start to answer how projects bubbling up from the groups will be vetted and supported.

To see the updates from the 2019 Outcome Groups, click here.

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