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Citizen participation key to Designing a Better Cleveland

Marc Lefkowitz  |  11/16/10 @ 3:46pm

Designing a Better Cleveland, a booklet written by Steven Litt for Cleveland Public Art and the Cleveland Public Library, calls for higher standards in the design of our city and suburbs to try and build better future. This page explores why the region desperately needs designers to help envision the future:

Cleveland has a proud history as a blue-collar industrial town built by immigrant labor from around the world. But too often in architecture and urban design, the city has acted in the top-down manner of a company town, with civic and business elites conducting tightly controlled design processes aimed at revamping the lakefront or the convention center. As often as not, such efforts have failed because they excluded the public. Today, a new civic ethos is rising in Cleveland, fueled in part by rising national awareness of design and the debate on the environment, climate change and sustainability. More and more residents realize the importance of civic design ? and the constructive roles they can play. The internet and social media have emerged as new modes of communication about civic projects, alongside traditional media. If developers and public agencies are smart, they'll realize that being transparent and using traditional and new media can be a way to test urban design concepts, to improve the product and to boost the case for public and private financial support. Clevelanders care intensely about the appearance of their city and are ready to engage.

Here are some current campaigns led by citizens or nonprofit groups who care about the appearance and sustainability of Northeast Ohio and have managed to support emerging green design:

  • Access for All-the campaign for livable cities and designing Northeast Ohio's infrastructure to be complete for all users
  • All Aboard Ohio-advocacy group for intercity rail in Ohio
  • ClevelandBikes-an information resource for cyclists, planners, engineers and others seeking input from the cycling community.
  • Cleveland Colectivo-a group of like-minded friends, neighbors, and colleagues who have joined together for the purpose of collective giving.
  • Cleveland Design Competition
  • Cleveland Heights Bicycle Coalition
  • Entrepreneurs for Sustainability-8,000 business, government and non-profit leaders work(ing) together to grow a sustainable economy that affirms and sustains life for all.
  • guerilla gardeners
  • Lakewood Earth and Food Community
  • Local Food Cleveland-an action network for everyone who is passionate about growing a thriving local food economy and culture around Cleveland, OH.
  • Local Roots (Wooster)
  • Naturehood-collaborative of citizens, government, nonprofit and private sector members dedicated to restoring and improving green-space in Cleveland by creating a network of native plant naturescapes on the City's vacant and abandoned properties.
  • Northeast Ohio Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council-generating broad support for various individual efforts, building momentum, and advancing the green building agenda in our region through education, consultation, and cooperation.
  • Ohio City Fresh Food Collaborative
  • Pop up City-Temporary events and installations that occupy vacant buildings and activate vacant land in ways that shine a spotlight on some of Cleveland's spectacular but underutilized properties.
  • ReImagine a Greater Cleveland-an initiative to transform the growing liability of vacant land into a regional asset. This will happen through a series of signature projects that incorporate multiple, interlinked ideas, and by applying the lessons of 56 small-scale pilot projects.
  • Sustainable Cleveland 2019-a 10-year initiative that engages people from all walks of life, working together to design and develop a thriving and resilient Cleveland region that leverages its wealth of assets to build economic, social and environmental well being for all.
  • Supporters of a future in Ohio for passenger rail are signing a petition to save the 3-C rail project connecting Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.
  • West Shoreway design advocacy
  • Zero Waste NEO-a network of businesses interested in the principles of zero waste.

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