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Sustainability summit re-surfaces

Marc Lefkowitz  |  08/26/09 @ 11:23am

The sense of possibility from the Cleveland 2019 Sustainability Summit bubbled back to the surface at last night's Entrepreneurs for Sustainability meeting. The conversation focused on getting new projects and a guiding agenda for a more sustainable Cleveland off of the ground. For starters, Andrew Watterson, director of Cleveland's Office of Sustainability, urged those who attended the summit to move with haste.

"The mayor has been asking me (about summit follow up)," he said. "We need you to meet with your groups, define and submit your plans so we can develop the report and quickly roll it out.

"The summit was one of the most positive experiences I've ever been part of. Let's keep it going."

If the updates from five Summit groups last night are any indication, what's 'going' right are the relationships and a sense that individuals are driving the agenda.

"The summit showed us our strength is the people of this region," said Adele DiMarco-Kious. "Their hearts, their minds and their guts."

DiMarco-Kious presented for the Summit group focused on building social capital, which she defines as anything that facilitates individual or collective action, possibly in a network (like E4S) or supports their aspirations. Their group will focus its efforts on developing experiential learning in Cleveland Municipal elementary schools.

Sustainability is experienced at St. Martin de Porres High School in Cleveland, faculty member Richard Clark explained. The school has an organic garden where the students learn to grow vegetables and compost food scraps from the cafeteria. The 12th grade class project has a 'care for the planet' theme. This year, Green Light New Orleans?a group that installed 184,000 compact fluorescent light bulbs in lower income households, saving them $8.4 million?is their inspiration.

"The challenge is to have the youth of this city change this city," said Clark, who announced the start up of Green Light Cleveland. "We need corporate sponsors to reach our goal of installing 200,000 CFLs in Cleveland."

A start-up that came directly out of the summit ? possibly the first ? is the Wastipedia center, which sprang from the minds of the Redefining Waste group.

"We want to find a location to take in reusable resources where artists can make them into products that can be sold," said Robert Stockham who was in the group when it formed an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) at the summit. "It could be an abandoned school or warehouse. We need assistance in how to make this a cooperative business."

The Wastipedia center could be part of a larger green building agenda which will focus on addressing change within the construction, development and building operation community, says Mark Rabkin. Ideas can be posted at the sustainablecleveland2019 site green building group discussion, which Rabkin promises to deliver to the area's Congressional delegation at a national green building conference in Washington, D.C.

Another project with great start-up potential is the Glenville Greenspace Project. Led by Vicki Trotter, owner of Trotter's Dry Cleaners (which uses a lower impact process), Cynthia Beard and Sudhir Kade Raghupathy, the project intends to convert abandoned property in Glenville into urban agriculture replete with herb spirals and an aquaculture farm. Technical support will be provided by Vel Scott, proprietor of Vel's Purple Oasis, and fiscal agency is being offered by University Circle, Inc. "We're looking for mentors and volunteer educators," Raghupathy said. "This is about creating opportunity for those who don't usually have it, and opportunity for all of us to have less crime and more excitement."

Entrepreneurs for Sustainability will host a start-up roundtable on September 2, from 5-7 p.m. at their space in the Shorebank business incubator center in Glenville.

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