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Vibrancy in the urban core

 |  12/01/11 @ 2:00pm  |  Posted in Vibrant cities

For more than a decade, Cleveland has worked to improve the downtown to become more than just a 9 to 5 city. These efforts may have come too late to preserve the significant retail investments made in the late 80s and early 90s, but the work seems to be finally paying off. The article in Sunday's Plain Dealer demonstrates that we are on the right path. With the alignment of a vision between the Mayor, City Council, and a consensus of civic leaders, I am confident that downtown will be alive well after 5. (To read full article, click here).

This brings me to the articles in Monday's Plain Dealer. Three articles highlighted our acceleration towards creating a sustainable community. What impresses me is how rapidly we are making progress towards creating a local food economy and vibrant green spaces. In such a short time period we have recognized that our vacant and public land can be used for more than development. I believe that the alignment of the entrepreneurial energy to the greater public interest is driving this progress. From Oberlin to Cleveland we are defining a new path forward. At Zone Recreation Center we are supporting vibrant green space, in the Kinsman neighborhood we are growing local food, and in Oberlin we are turning food waste into healthy soil.

Tackling food waste and creating healthy soil are the next hurdles that we must overcome to create a vibrant and sustainable urban agricultural scene. Ambitious entrepreneurs, available vacant land and friendly public policies are helping to spawn an emerging agricultural community in Cleveland. This has awarded Cleveland with recognition as a national leader in urban agriculture. In order to maintain this progress we have to improve our processes of economically creating the healthy soils necessary to transform the vacant lots into productive urban farms.

I am confident we will identify the connections necessary to turn our challenges into success stories. In order to do this though, we all need to listen to each other and be open to new ideas. Ten years ago, it would be an unlikely guess that there would be a 6-acre farm on west 25th street, but now there is, and we are proud of it.

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