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Cleveland competes to be most sustainable city

Marc Lefkowitz  |  10/21/09 @ 10:00am

  • Cleveland is competing against the 50 most populous U.S. cities for the SustainLane Local Action Challenge, an awareness campaign before the December 2009 Climate Conference in Copenhagen. To add points to the city's score, simply upload a photo and caption of a carbon-lowering step you're taking here. (You can also get ideas on what to do at the site).
  • A controversial new report from Policy Bridge recommends Cleveland focus on strong neighborhoods while rationing investment in weak areas of town. It rightly points out that no politician in Cleveland has had the strength to pull off a plan that reshapes the city where healthy areas are connected by large greenways. Here's an excerpt from the report:
  • What we have lacked is the political will to target intervention efforts where they have the best chance of making a real difference in restoring health and vitality. Cleveland and individual neighborhoods, in particular, have been in decline since the 1950s. Yet, political calculations have stood ? and continue to stand ? in the way of embracing Cleveland's future as a smaller ? but healthier ? city. Decisions to redraw wards to better match population density, to limit resources and services to sparsely populated areas, and to offer isolated residents the choice of relocating to healthier neighborhoods, or even suburbs, come with potentially negative political ramifications.

    In her critique of this neighborhood 'triage' approach, Mandy Metcalf, manager of Environmental Health Watch's Affordable Green Homes program, offers a vision for 'preventive care' for cities. We think it could be a new Cleveland mission statement. She writes:

    In some neighborhoods, investment will take the form of deconstructing homes, utilizing vacant lots for farming, natural habitat, and stormwater management, while maintaining transit-accessible pockets of homes and retail that function as small ecovillages. In other neighborhoods where small parcels have been assembled into large-scale redevelopment opportunities, intense investment in new homes and commercial development will occur. Development will be shaped by regional policies that guide investment away from fossil-fuel dependent exurbs and into the heart of the eco-city. A thriving locally-based economy will ensure that Cleveland residents get a fair share of the profit from development. Schools, safety, and jobs will be recognized as important elements of a sustainable community. And resources will be invested in ecologically sustainable design and infrastructure to ensure a clean lake and functioning greenspaces that increase our quality of life for all our residents and attract people from around the country.
  • Cleveland State University's Sustainability Day is this Wednesday, Oct. 21, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free and open to the public, it includes a Green Fair (education, transportation, energy and food-related vendors and a chance to win a bicycle) in the Science and Research Plaza; the "Al Gore" climate slideshow presented by Alvidas Jasin, Director of Business Development for Thompson Hine, LLP at noon at the MC Auditorium; and a party on the new 7,000 sq ft. green roof (pictured) at the Student Recreation Center, 7-10 p.m.
  • The Biodiversity Alliance announced the 2009 Northeast Ohio Environmental Awards, and the group hosted Dr. Marcus Eriksen, a marine researcher who led 11 Cleveland-area teams in building and sailing plastic junk rafts on Lake Erie to raise awareness of the "plastic plague" harming birds, fish, turtles, frogs and all life on the planet. See the YouTube video and pictures from the day on their e-newsletter here.

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