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What kind of sustainable future do you want?

Marc Lefkowitz  |  07/24/12 @ 12:00pm  |  Posted in NEO Sustainable Communities

What good is regionalism if you can't have an honest conversation among peers about what's going wrong? The latest large-scale regionalism conversation-Vibrant NEO-started with a collection of data on how we've developed in the last 40 years and how we're projected to grow in the next decade. It's Conditions and Trends Platform does a nice job assembling important information like 23% fewer people lived in Northeast Ohio per developed acre in 2006 than in 1979.

Why is it important that Northeast Ohio's population has been spreading out?

Vibrant NEO's $4 million charge is to provide a space for us to discuss this, and then produce the inspiring ideas about the future that will make Northeast Ohio a greener, healthier and more livable place. It can help people understand that business as usual-net regional job growth that is low, and yet more widely dispersed-won't get us to the sustainable future we all want. Then its up to all of us who want a Green City on a Blue Lake to hold our leaders, who are represented on the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities board, accountable for the ideas they've presented. We can let them hear our voice-does it matter that the pattern of one county "growing" at the expense of another is a zero sum game? We need more voices to be heard if this initiative is to come up with the inspiring vision of how to use less land and natural resources while providing lasting, sustainable growth. Log on to the Conditions and Trends Platform-or attend a young leaders meet up-and make your voice heard.

· Pop Up Rockwell- Cleveland's new vision for a street with shared space for bikes, and a safer, more inspired place to walk-has attracted national attention. Cleveland's project is leading others to "find ways to take back the streets as public space for people," according to South by Southwest Eco. David Jurca senior designer at the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative will talk about Pop Up Rockwell at the conference in Austin in October. Cleveland was nominated by Texas Sierra Club which plans to organize similar pop up complete street projects in Austin, TX then roll out a nationwide program through other Sierra Club chapters.

· LAND studio has entered GOOD Magazine's "Do GOOD Outdoors" contest with a proposal to create covered bike parking using a locally-sourced shipping container. The so-called "Bike Box" would be located on Bridge Avenue in Ohio City, with the hope of duplicating them in other Cleveland neighborhoods. You can read more about the project and cast your vote here.

· Yale University updated its respected "Six Americas" survey of climate change. Here's a salient finding:

93 percent of the Alarmed, 92 percent of the Concerned, 74 percent of the Cautious, and 73 percent of the Disengaged say that global warming is affecting weather in the United States. Majorities of these groups also say that global warming made several extreme weather and natural disasters in 2011 worse, including the drought in Texas and Oklahoma, floods in the Mississippi River Valley, and record high temperatures across much of the U.S. By contrast, 90 percent of the Dismissive and 66 percent of the Doubtful say that global warming is not affecting the weather in the U.S.

· Alex Kotlowitz writes beautifully about the many layered benefits of urban gardening in Chicago. The greatest thing about urban gardening may not be the health or economic gains, but the act of reclaiming space for people who've had to live next to abandoned lots littered with trash for decades. New research suggests urban gardening strengthens community bonds and reduces violent crime. Plus, the article has gorgeous photos. Check it out.

· The SPACEBUSTER, a graphics emblazoned delivery truck carrying a 40' long inflatable room, will be stopping in Cleveland this week en route to Flint, Michighan from Brooklyn, New York. SPACEBUSTER will park in a vacant lot adjacent to the Agora Theater on Euclid Avenue and deploy a pop-up social space in the burgeoning Midtown District. The SPACEBUSTER will be open to the public from 11am - 2pm on Thursday, July 26th-just take the HealthLine to the E. 55th stop, ride your bike or take advantage of the ample free car parking. Grab lunch from Umami Moto Food Truck or The Hipp restaurant next door and bring it inside the SPACEBUSTER, where you can sit back and relax in the informal setting to learn more about plans for the Euclid Corridor and share your thoughts for the area. Do you have a great idea for transforming the E. 55th rail bridge? Representatives from MidTown Cleveland will be on hand to gather your feedback.

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