Accomplishments in 2003
EcoCity Cleveland had another productive year in 2003. 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 five 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 - Recognizing the power and reach of the Internet, our Web site has become our key communications medium. In 2003, we continued to update the site on an almost daily basis to provide the region's best Calendar of sustainability events. We also added a great deal of other content, such as a major section on environmentally friendly living, Health & Home, as well as interactive features, such as a tour of the Towpath Trail and a slide show on best practices for waterfront design. Our site has received national recognition for the depth of its regional planning information. By the end of 2003, traffic to the site had grown to more than 19,000 visitors per month.
- EcoCity Digest - To provide regular, printed updates to our members and friends, we created a new publication, the EcoCity Digest. This newsletter provides highlights on important issues and events, and the news items are linked to in-depth information resources on our Web site.
- Networking - In many ways, EcoCity Cleveland has supported the larger environmental community in Northeast Ohio. Our Web site and other publications helped to communicate the activities of other organizations, and we are in the process of adapting a portion of our site to become a Web portal for the entire community. We also worked with our fellow tenants in the Cleveland Environmental Center to make the center an exciting hub of activity. And we worked with other organizations to promote sustainability programs in the City of Cleveland. In addition, our staff participated on more than a dozen community task forces, boards, and committees in 2003.
- Media outreach - We worked hard to shape news coverage in Northeast Ohio. Our staff met regularly with reporters to brief them on issues and to be interviewed. Our projects, such as the Cleveland EcoVillage, were mentioned in many stories. And our staff appeared frequently on WCPN Public Radio.
- Bioregional Hero Awards - At the dedication of the Cleveland Environmental Center on October 16, 2003, we presented our 4th annual Bioregional Hero Awards. This year, we partnered with other organizations in the Environmental Center to give out the awards.
- 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 - In 2003, we continued to play a leadership role in policy debates about land use in Ohio. We facilitated the formation of Greater Ohio, a statewide network aimed at changing state policies. We helped to staff the Ohio Lake Erie Commission's Balanced Growth Task Force, which recommended ways the state can create a better balance of development and ecological health in the Lake Erie watershed. And we assisted the First Suburbs Consortium of Northeast Ohio.
- 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.
- Task force/committee representation - In 2003, 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 and market the EcoVillage's 20-unit W. 58th Town Home project. As the town homes neared completion, they continued to be a prominent example of high-performance design in Cleveland and helped to spread the concepts of green building throughout the building community of Northeast Ohio. Also in the EcoVillage, we organized community workshops to plan improvements to the grounds of Zone Recreation Center ¾ improvements that might include innovative landscaping to reduce stormwater runoff. We conducted numerous EcoVillage tours for college classes and other groups. And we worked with the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization and other neighborhood partners to create a new, full-time staff position, the EcoVillage project director.
- Green building - Green building - In addition to promoting green building in the EcoVillage, we supported efforts of the Cleveland Green Building Coalition to incorporate green building into the City's building code and into the $1 billion rebuilding program of the Cleveland Public Schools. 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 U.S. Green Building Council conference.
- BLUE Project - In partnership with the Cleveland Waterfront Coalition, we continued to develop the BLUE Project (Building the Livable Urban Edge) to influence the city's lakefront planning process. BLUE released a study of best practices for waterfront development, cosponsored a major forum on waterfront design at Cleveland State University, showed how to divert most of the freight trains off the Cleveland lakefront, and commissioned new studies of submerged lands leasing along the lakefront and opportunities for a "green infrastructure development organization" in Northeast Ohio.
- Task force/committee representation - We served 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 distributed our planning map, showing how University Circle and the surrounding Heights communities can become bicycle-friendly areas, to hundreds of decision makers. We formed the Friends of the Circle Heights Bike Network, a citizens' group that is working toward implementation of the plan.
- Transit advocacy - We helped RTA staff on issues of transit signal upgrades, signage, annual pass programs, transit-efficient mortgages, shopping by transit, poetry on transit, and zoning for transit-oriented development.
- Transit Waiting Environments - Working with RTA and KSU's Urban Design Center, we worked toward the creation of official design guidelines for improving the waiting experience at more than 8,000 bus stops in the region. We've identified best practices in bus stop information and amenities and helped create and distribute a detailed public survey.
- City bike planning - We helped establish a strong umbrella group for bicycle advocacy through Cleveland Bikes and by serving as fiscal agent for corporate donations for safe bicycling activities. We provided assistance to citizens in Bay Village who are working with the Mayor and Council to make their city more bike-friendly. And we provided ongoing support to City of Cleveland staff as they improve bicycling conditions.
- Active Living By Design - We supported Slavic Village Development Corporation in obtaining a prestigious grant from the Robert Wood Johnson foundation. The project will help create better opportunities for making physical activity through walking and bicycling a part of everyday life in Slavic Village. We will provide analysis of local street design needs and work with SVDC on a Community Youth Mapping project.
- Task force participation and technical assistance - We served on the Cleveland Innerbelt Scoping Committee, RTA Citizens' Advisory Board, the NOACA bicycle advisory committee, the local Transit Oriented Development group, and the Lakefront Plan Advisory Committee. We assisted the Ohio City Bicycle Co-op as it expanded its earn-a-bike program and education on safe cycling in partnership with four City of Cleveland recreation centers.
Organizational progress in 2002
Goal - Build a strong, enduring organization that is accountable to the community.
- Cleveland Environmental Center - In 2003, we moved our offices into the Cleveland Environmental Center, a landmark green building in Cleveland. The new offices give us comfortable, professional space, while allowing us to live up to our environmental ideals.
- Staff - We hired an Administrative Director, Dorie Shimelonis, to increase our capacity to build membership, organize events, and manage volunteers.
- Member involvement - We continued to use our Web site and e-mail alerts to communicate with our members and other activists in the community.
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