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What inspires in Northeast Ohio

Marc Lefkowitz  |  10/13/11 @ 9:55am

· Cleveland Councilman Jay Westbrook is serious about his idea to rename the city's Division of Traffic Engineering to "Traffic & Pedestrian Engineering". Westbrook is still entertaining the idea that he floated during city council's Complete and Green Streets hearings. He hopes to inspire new ideas within the bureaucracy that controls where lanes are positioned, traffic and pedestrian signals are configured, crosswalks appear, etc. It's an idea so enlightening and yet worth serious consideration.

· Cool Cleveland linked to our blog post about the American Public Health Association report that bike lanes reduce crashes by 50%. They rightly wonder, "where are the bike lanes, then?" We would ask the same.

· Cleveland Heights recently painted bike lanes on North Park Boulevard. The major arterial connects east suburbs with downtown and marks an important piece in the region's on-road bike network (CH this summer painted 'Sharrows' on Coventry, which intersects the bike lanes on North Park).

North Park's bike lanes end at the city of Cleveland's border, and thus highlight an ongoing planning issue: coordination between (not only) these two cities is lacking. The good news is there's plenty of room for Cleveland to continue the bike lane on the westbound lane of N. Park. We figure, once Cleveland's traffic (and pedestrian) engineer catches wind of the bike lane, he'll want to prioritize his annual striping budget to connect this regional bike commuting route.

·Cleveland can also connect the North Park bike lanes, with short link circling south at MLK Drive to their Lake to Lakes bike trail. A major portion of that trail is under construction currently at the Rudy Rogers Boy Scout Camp (that's the green space between Fairhill).

The city is building an off-road trail that will start at the base of Cedar Hill and go through the park to Fairhill nearby the Baldwin Water Treatment plant. It connects to an asphalt trail in need of repair running alongside busy Fairhill, but it dead ends at MLK by the old Kaiser Building. More funds are needed to connect it south along MLK. The city plans to safely get cyclists through this heavy commuting corridor and up toward Shaker Lakes. At the base of Cedar Hill, the trail will spill out into a green space where RTA plans to vacate its bus depot. Again, the challenge for the city and engineers is figuring out how to make it safe to bike through the thicket of streets around Case (Stokes/MLK).

· We are inspired by the fire of Drink Local, Drink Tap and its leader Erin Huber who was part of a team that visited Uganda this summer with Cleveland teacher/Ugandan native Teddy Mwonyonyi and local indie filmmaker Tom Kondilas to make a film about life in a village that has to walk five hours every day for fresh water. Huber's letter describes the journey of discovery ? they carried home vivid images from being in the village and witnessing life there. Their effort breathes real life into the somewhat distant phrase "village without water" and has provided their group with inspiration for what comes next (raising money to dig a well). The journey continues for DLDT which emerged from the first 2019 Summit. The group itself was recently inspired by Cleveland students and some Ugandan ex-pats who are rallying around their effort. Huber declares: "We can start with WATER. With almost a dozen recent speaking engagements, I have been fortunate to meet some inspiring LOCAL people from Uganda, kids with FIRE, and student/community leaders who understand the meaning of LOVE.

A fellow presenter at CSU's Congo Week donated half of his monetary award to DLDT because he understands that LOVE and SHARING are the only way we can all move forward. A local Ugandan man (from the Congo border who is attending Case Western currently) affirmed DLDT is working in the most fragile-war stricken area in Uganda and thanked us for sharing with his people.

I love the fire and the passion coming from the soon to be leaders of our world-these students give me hope."

· When a group of Clevelanders bands together for a cause, there's no telling what can happen. The city is filled with historical accounts of great playhouses saved from wrecking balls, West Creeks preserved in Parma and Shaker Lakes saved from highways because of the work of a few tireless activists. Of the latter, deepen your understanding about how the large urban park at Shaker Lakes was saved in the late '60s and early '70s from being filled in for a freeway (by some well-connected Shakerites) at the Oct. 26 launch party of "The Legacy of Clark Freeway Fighters" a new hardback book for sale at the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes (2600 South Park Blvd. Cleveland, OH 44120). More details are available here.

· More inspiration comes by way of the closing of the SmartHome exhibit, which inspired thousands of visitors with a vision of the future of housing in Northeast Ohio. David Beach, director of GreenCityBlueLake Institute and the catalyst behind the SmartHome, summed up the sparks of inspiration that flew this summer:

The Museum's PNC SmartHome exhibit closed Oct. 7 after a busy summer of introducing thousands of visitors to the promise of the extremely energy-efficient building. The SmartHome also has been a catalyst for community conversations about the future of green building and neighborhood redevelopment in Cleveland.

Dozens of groups from the building industry, local governments, and nonprofit development organizations toured the SmartHome or had workshops at the Museum to learn about the Passive House principles demonstrated by the SmartHome. These included local chapters of the U.S. Green Building Council, American Institute of Architects, and Association of Energy Engineers. Representatives of the Northeast Ohio First Suburbs Consortium were inspired to think about applying SmartHome ideas to the revitalization of older cities. Funders of neighborhood redevelopment - Neighborhood Progress Inc. and Enterprise Community Partners - convened meetings at the Museum to stimulate dialogue among Cleveland neighborhood groups about energy efficiency and affordable housing.

The SmartHome also inspired many high school and college classes. Tours included 83 students from the School of Architecture and Design at Cleveland's John Hay High School. They are now incorporating environmentally friendly design lessons from the SmartHome into their own designs for homes.

Already, the SmartHome is influencing other building projects in Northeast Ohio, including a Passive House being built in Cleveland Heights, the design of an affordable house for the Cleveland EcoVillage, plans for Near West Theatre's new building in the Gordon Square Arts District, and a new nature center for the Metro Parks Serving Summit County. In addition, the SmartHome's design-build team has received a number of requests to build other highly energy-efficient homes in Northeast Ohio.

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