A region of vibrant cities and towns
We live with diverse landscapes in Northeast Ohio. We have natural areas harboring remnants of biological richness that evolved here since the last Ice Age. We have a working countryside of pastoral beauty and picturesque small towns harkening back to the settlement of the Western Reserve. We have vibrant urban neighborhoods, great city centers, and an incredible industrial landscape. We love all these special places and seek to sustain the best qualities of each, emphasizing conservation, restoration, and redevelopment. In short, we seek a regional pattern of settlement that allows us to live sustainably on the land.
Cities and town centers are the solution to many sustainability challenges. They are where most people can live with the smallest environmental footprint—the lowest energy use, the least transportation use, the least impact to natural areas and farmland, the least infrastructure cost, and the greatest use of existing community assets.
Yet in recent decades the overwhelming trend has been to promote development in new areas at the edges of metropolitan areas—new suburbs, new shopping areas, new job centers. This has helped to drain people and investment from the region’s historic urban centers. And the style of this development—low-density and automobile-dependent—has magnified the energy use and other environmental impacts.
For a sustainable future, we need to rebalance the region. So this section will be about strategies to redevelop the cities and towns of Northeast Ohio—to discover a sustainable urban future.
Admittedly, this is not an easy subject. It’s about regional planning and the distribution of development. Given the political fragmentation of the region, solutions are difficult and controversial. But we must try. The land use issue is fundamental. It’s at the root of many other sustainability issues, from transportation to water quality.
In the coming months, we’ll be discussing strategies to promote the regeneration of cities and towns in Northeast Ohio. And we’ll outline the ways everyone can get involved to accelerate the progress.
What do you think are the key things that need to change? Contribute your ideas here.
Regardless of the myths about living close to the land, cities are where human beings have the lowest ecological footprint. It takes less energy, wood, material, and food to provide a good life for a person in a city than in the country. Rather than perceive the city as an ecological sink sucking up the resources of the countryside, which cities can do, cities can also be a kind of ecological ark, places where humanity gathers while we peak in population and develop ecological intelligence for a new civilization.
— Paul Hawken
- Northeast Ohio smart growth agenda
- Transect: buildings sized to location
- What different densities really look like
- Greater Ohio
- Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium
- Ohio Balanced Growth Program
- Mapping human capital: Where Northeast Ohio's young and middle-aged adults are moving
- The next 100 million: American is trending toward walkable urbanism
The best bike trails >
Find out where are the most interesting bike rides in Northeast Ohio
Where's the best urban stroll? >
From Shaker to Hudson, here's our list of favorite places to stroll
Buildings of the future >
See videos from the Museum's amazing Building with Nature Symposium