Accomplishments in 2002
With a small core staff of three and a half persons and lots of partners, EcoCity Cleveland is able to leverage a great deal of activity. Here is a summary of accomplishments during the past year in six major areas:
Goal - Provide the best information on environmental and urban design issues in Northeast Ohio, integrate issues to help citizens and decision-makers think holistically, and create a positive vision of a sustainable future.
Web site - Taking advantage of the expanding potential of the Internet, we went online with an ambitious new Web site in early 2002. The site, www.ecocitycleveland.org, makes available nearly all the print resources we have developed over the past 10 years, plus much more new material. We think it's one of the best Web sites in the state, and our opinion was confirmed recently when the Planetizen.com Web site (a prominent national site for planning and community development) named our site one of the 50 best in the nation for planning and community development. The site is drawing more than 10,000 visitors a month on average. And we are working to develop it into an even better community resource with the help of a grant from the Cleveland Foundation, which is supporting a half-time Web editor.
Networking - Our staff participated on more than a dozen task forces, boards, and committees. We also worked with other environmental groups to develop the Cleveland Environmental Center, supported leadership development in Cleveland through the Bridge Builders program, and were a key planner of the Sustainable Communities 2002 Symposium. We also helped spread the work about all the good eco-projects happening in Cleveland to national and international networks related to ecovillages and smart growth.
Media outreach - We worked hard to shape news coverage in Northeast Ohio. In December alone, the Plain Dealer did two major stories on our projects and staff, and Metropolis magazine featured our work in an article about Cleveland as the next potential eco-city. We also appear frequently on WCPN Public Radio.
Bioregional Hero Awards - Our annual awards, which were announced this year at our 10th Anniversary member party in August, were again a great way to promote environmental work in Northeast Ohio. They're also a lot of fun!
- Public speaking - We averaged about one public presentation a week to civic organizations, church groups, college classes, or conferences. And our staff also made regular appearances on Cleveland City Club panels and at other prominent venues.
Smart growth and bioregional planning
Goal - Promote a better balance of city and countryside.
Smart growth - We played a leadership role in promoting smarter land use policies in Ohio. At the request of the Funders' Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities, we wrote a background paper on the prospects for achieving significant policy changes in the state. The paper helped to focus the discussion of smart growth advocates, and we are now facilitating a statewide planning process that we hope will lead to a serious organizing campaign. In addition, we have been hired by the Ohio Lake Erie Commission to provide research support to the Lake Erie Balanced Growth Task Force, which will recommend state policy changes to create a better balance of development and ecological health in the Lake Erie watershed. And we also helped the Northeast Ohio Home Builders create an awards program to recognize developments that follow principles of smart growth.
- Regional open space - We continued to participate in discussions about a larger vision for open space in Northeast Ohio. This followed up work we did in 2001 with the Northeast Ohio Regional Parks Consortium. We also met regularly with other groups working on open space issues in Northeast Ohio, including land trusts, local offices of the Trust for Public Land and The Nature Conservancy, Western Reserve Resource Conservation and Development Council, and Northeast Ohio Home Builders Association.
- Bioregional Map Poster - Our beautiful Bioregional Map Poster of the watersheds in Northeast Ohio continued to be a valuable educational tool. Last year we distributed it to many of the high schools in the region and also to classes that attended the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center.
- Task force/committee representation - In 2002, we promoted smart growth and open space conservation by serving on the following: First Suburbs executive committee, Clean Ohio funding selection council for Cuyahoga County, Cleveland Museum of Natural History Conservation Committee, Western Reserve RC&D Council, Northeast Ohio Home Builders Smart Growth Education Foundation, and Cuyahoga River Remedial Action Plan. In addition, EcoCity Cleveland is the Ohio member of the Growth Management Leadership Alliance, the national network of leading state and regional growth management organizations.
Cleveland EcoVillage and ecological design
Goal - Promote high performance buildings, neighborhoods, and businesses.
Cleveland EcoVillage - In the past year, we continued to assist the EcoVillage's W. 58th Town Home project. EcoCity Cleveland has helped raise funds for architectural and other design fees, to document the project, and hold workshops (see item below) so that the lessons learned about green building can be diffused throughout the building community of Northeast Ohio. The first phase of the project is done, and the second phase of construction is underway. Also in the EcoVillage, we organized a community workshop to plan improvements to the grounds of Zone Recreation Center improvements that might include innovative landscaping to reduce stormwater runoff. And we partnered with the Green Building Coalition on a straw bale construction workshop. In addition, we conducted numerous EcoVillage tours for college classes and other groups.
- EcoVillage town home workshops - We organized three public events with ecovillage expert Daniel Greenberg, organized a construction and design workshop based on lessons learned in the construction of the town homes with Building Science Corporation staff and over 50 attendees, co-organized an ecological design workshop with Carol Franklin of Andropogon Associates, and helped facilitate a workshop for staff of local CDCs on the Cleveland EcoVillage. We also helped organize the town home groundbreaking celebration and the open house party to publicly debut the model home. And we promoted the project to the media.
Green building - In addition to promoting green building in the EcoVillage, we assisted the drafting of a green building code appendix to Cleveland's building code. We supported efforts to help the Cleveland Public Schools incorporate green building techniques into school reconstruction. And we were the fiscal agent for the Cleveland Green Building Coalition and assisted the GBC in organizing workshops on green urbanism, affordable green development, and selling green design. We also provided resources to and consulted with more than a hundred individual activists, business owners, and planners on how to incorporate ideas of ecological design and community redevelopment into their projects. And we were presenters at the first U.S. Green Building Council conference in Austin, TX.
BLUE Project - In partnership with the Cleveland Waterfront Coalition, we created the BLUE Project (Building the Livable Urban Edge) to influence the city's lakefront planning process. BLUE has already released an in-depth study of Burke Lakefront Airport, and it is about to complete a study of best practices for waterfront development. The project also convened an ecological restoration workshop of local and national experts to recommend creative ways to restore ecosystems along the shoreline.
- Sustainable Communities Symposium 2002 - We were a key member of the planning committee for a major symposium on "green urbanism" held at the Cleveland State University Convocation Center in May 2002. The event attracted nearly 400 people, including the mayors of Cleveland and Akron.
Cleveland Environmental Center - We were actively involved in the planning and fundraising for the CEC project, which is nearing completion as one of Cleveland's leading green office buildings.
- Task force/committee representation - We are serving on the City of Cleveland Lakefront Advisory Council; City of Cleveland Parks, Recreation and Properties Strategic Planning Advisory Committee; EcoVillage Network of the Americas Council; Ohio City Near West Community Development Corporation's board of trustees; Cleveland Waterfront Coalition board; and Cleveland Green Building Coalition advisory board.
Goal - Promote transit-oriented development and investments in a multi-modal transportation system to create livable communities and greater transportation choices.
- Monitoring and reporting - We have continued to monitor and influence transportation planning issues at NOACA, ODOT, and RTA. Our presence at the table assures that transportation alternatives are part of local plans.
- Circle-Heights Bike Network - We developed a concept plan and printed map showing how University Circle and the surrounding Heights communities can become bicycle-friendly areas.
Rack & Roll - We continued to help RTA improve connections between transit and bikes by working to get bikes allowed on the Rapid and by supporting RTA funding applications for full fleet installation of bike racks on buses.
- Euclid Corridor - Our behind-the-scenes work and technical assistance convinced local officials to include bike lanes in the Euclid Corridor Transportation Project a major victory for bicycling.
- Transit advocacy - We helped RTA staff on issues of transit signal upgrades, transit waiting environments, signage, annual pass programs, transit-efficient mortgages, shopping by transit, poetry on transit, and zoning for transit-oriented development.
- City bike planning - We provided assistance to the City of Cleveland's CityRacks/CitySeats program, which is installing bike racks and pedestrian seating throughout the city. We informed city planners about bike programs in other cities and promoted the development of a master bike plan for the city. And we promoted the idea of a downtown bike station for safe bike storage, showers, and bike information.
Detroit-Superior Bridge - As a project consultant, we helped to optimize the redesign of the historic Detroit-Superior Bridge for bicyclists and pedestrians. We also worked with the County Engineer to make the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge more bike friendly.
- Traffic calming - We promoted traffic calming in Northeast Ohio by co-sponsoring workshops with national expert Dan Burden, including a morning workshop with 100 planners and elected officials at NOACA, an afternoon workshop with CDC leaders, and an evening workshop for 200 residents of the Ohio City neighborhood.
- Carsharing - We began local conversations about a carshare pilot project for University Circle.
- Task force participation and technical assistance - We have been assisting the Cleveland Innerbelt study, RTA Citizens' Advisory Board, the NOACA bicycle advisory committee, the local Transit Oriented Development group, and Ohio City Streets Committee. Our staff also made numerous presentations about bicycling and traffic calming to community groups. And we assisted the Ohio City Bicycle Co-op as it developed an earn-a-bike program, education on safe cycling, and basic bike maintenance.
Assistance for the broader movement for sustainability
Goal - Share our expertise and organizational capacity to facilitate the work of other activists.
- Fiscal agent or staffing assistance - EcoCity leverages its impact by providing administrative help to other groups or individual activists. In 2002, we served as the fiscal agent for the Cleveland Green Building Coalition and Sustainable Communities 2000, and we facilitated ad hoc groups such as Alt-Trans Cleveland and the local Transit Oriented Development group.
- Leadership development - We are working with Bridge Builders, the Rockwood Fund, Cleveland State University, and others to develop partnerships and provide additional training and resources to emerging leaders within the social change and non-profit community.
Web site calendar - Our Web site's calendar provides other groups with a quick and easy way to promote events, job listings, and activist alerts.
- Cleveland Environmental Center - Our staff has worked to develop the Cleveland Environmental Center as a home for local environmental organizations.
- Advice - Our staff constantly provides information to other groups about the management of nonprofit organizations, and we provide advice to many young people who are seeking environmental careers.
Organizational progress in 2002
Goal - Build a strong, enduring organization that is accountable to the community.
- 10th Anniversary - EcoCity Cleveland celebrated its 10th Anniversary in 2002, a milestone that prompted many people to recognize what an important part of the community EcoCity has become. About 200 people attended our 10th Anniversary member party at Massimo da Milan in August, and we received special commendations from Cleveland City Planning director Chris Ronayne and Cuyahoga County Planning director Paul Alsenas. It was especially gratifying to notice how many projects now underway in Greater Cleveland were inspired by our ideas over the years.
- Board development - We added two new Board members in 2002, Greg Studen and Brad Sellers.
- Staff - Our core staff of three persons remained stable in the past year. We added a half-time Web editor, Marc Lefkowitz, and we also benefited from several excellent interns.
- Member involvement - We began to use our new Web site and e-mail capabilities to communicate more frequently with our members and other activists in the community.
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Accomplishments in 2001