Accomplishments in 2004
EcoCity Cleveland had another productive year in 2004.
We devoted a significant portion of our time and resources to the development of collaborative projects that involve and benefit the larger environmental and sustainability community. Here is a summary of accomplishments in major areas:
Goal - Provide leadership and resources to the larger environmental and sustainability community to develop collaborative projects.
- Greater Ohio — We serve as the major fiscal sponsor and organizational support for this statewide network to reform policies affecting land use. Our executive director, David Beach, chairs the Greater Ohio steering committee. (More on Greater Ohio below.)
- Lake Erie Balanced Growth — We are a key partner in the State of Ohio’s work to promote balanced patterns of development in the Lake Erie watershed.
- City sustainability — We organized a consortium of local sustainability organizations and worked with the City of Cleveland to develop a grant proposal for a Sustainbility Programs Manager. We now lead the steering committee that will oversee the staff person.
- Cleveland EcoVillage — We are the fiscal sponsor and provide organizational support to the EcoVillage project, a partnership with the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization.
- TheTree.us — We created an interactive Web portal for other environmental and conservation organizations in Northeast Ohio.
- Urban gardens — We convened a work group of community garden supporters to explore how to protect urban gardens.
- Transportation alternatives — We provided assistance to many organizations working to design streets for pedestrians and cyclists, and we conducted a small grants program for bicycle projects.
- FalconCam — We facilitated the transfer of responsibility for this cool Cleveland service from a private Internet service provider to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
- Cleveland Environmental Center — In collaboration with the Green Building Coalition and Environmental Health Watch, we have supported the development of this landmark green building as a home for environmental nonprofits.
- Bioregional Hero Awards — To share the spotlight, we present our annual awards in collaboration with other organizations.
- Reorganizing the environmental community — With funding from the Maltz Foundation, we facilitated a series of discussions about the ways that the nonprofit environmental and sustainability community in Northeast Ohio could be restructured for greater effectiveness.
- [See more on many of these projects below.]
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 2004, we continued to update the site on an almost daily basis to provide the region’s best online source of information about ecological issues. The site also communicates the activities of other organizations.
- EcoCity Digest - To provide regular, printed updates to our members and friends, we published 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.
- TheTree.us - We developed (and now maintain) this new Web site to be a portal for all the environmental and conservation groups in Northeast Ohio – the one place to go to find out what’s happening. Its interactive database capability allows each group to post events, job listings, and activist alerts.
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 ideastream, including on a special radio/TV presentation about the city’s connection to the Lake Erie.
- Bioregional Hero Awards - At the ribbon cutting of the new W. 65 th/EcoVillage Rapid station, we presented our 5th annual Bioregional Hero Awards.
- Public speaking - We averaged about two public presentations a month to civic organizations, church groups, college classes, or conferences.
Smart growth and bioregional planning
Goal - Promote a better balance of city and countryside.
- Greater Ohio - In 1998, we published our Ohio Smart Growth Agenda, which described how the State of Ohio could be more supportive of the redevelopment of existing cities and towns, as well as the conservation of farmland and open space. Since then, we have been working hard to create a statewide network for these policy reforms. This network has now taken off as Greater Ohio, a collaborative campaign for which we act as chair and principal fiscal sponsor. Greater Ohio staff members in Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati are now organizing everyone who is concerned about the way Ohio is currently growing. This project could have a huge impact on our future environmental quality, economic competitiveness, and quality of life.
- Lake Erie Balanced Growth - Uncontrolled land use in the Lake Erie watershed is the biggest threat to the health of the lake. For the past three years we have been working with the Ohio Lake Erie Commission to figure out how the state can encourage more balanced patterns of growth. In 2004, we obtained funding from the Joyce Foundation to assist the state’s Balanced Growth Initiative by providing analysis of which policies affect the location of development and a decision-support system to help communities in a watershed evaluate where growth is most suitable.
- Regional open space - We participated in discussions about a larger vision for open space in Northeast Ohio, meeting regularly with other groups working on open space issues, including land trusts, park districts, local offices of the Trust for Public Land and The Nature Conservancy, and Countryside Program.
- Urban gardens - Urban gardens are important neighborhood assets, yet few of the garden sites in Cleveland are protected. We convened a working group to recommend options for permanent protection.
- Task force/committee representation - In 2004, we promoted smart growth and open space conservation by serving on the following: First Suburbs executive committee, Great Lakes Commission Ohio Land Use Roundtable steering committee, Clean Ohio funding selection council for Cuyahoga County, Cleveland Museum of Natural History Conservation Committee, Northeast Ohio Home Builders Smart Growth Education Foundation. In addition, EcoCity Cleveland is an Ohio member of Smart Growth America and 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.
City Sustainability Programs Manager - We facilitated the process that led to the City of Cleveland hiring a Sustainability Programs Manager, an exciting new position that will help the city save money, create jobs, improve the environment, and become known as a green city.
Cleveland EcoVillage - Our Cleveland EcoVillage project continues to attract attention as a demonstration of green urban revitalization. Working with our neighborhood partners in Detroit Shoreway this year, we hired a new EcoVillage program manager, helped to cut the ribbon for 20 high-performance town homes (all sold!), and helped to open RTA’s new W. 65 th/EcoVillage Rapid station (the first green Rapid station!). Now we’re helping to study the potential for the ecological restoration of the Zone Recreation Center greenspace and for transit-oriented redevelopment around the Rapid station.
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; Cleveland Waterfront Coalition board ; Cleveland Green Building Coalition advisory board, and the Foundation for Sustainability and Innovation advisory committee.
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.
- Bike/pedestrian planning and advocacy — In communities throughout the region, we are helping citizens and public officials transform streets into great places for people. Our expertise on bike-friendly and pedestrian-friendly street design shaped the cool new promenade on the Detroit-Superior Bridge. We made sure that the Euclid Corridor bus rapid transit project in Cleveland includes bike lanes. We provided ongoing support to City of Cleveland staff as they improve bicycling conditions. We continued to work with Heights communities to develop the Circle-Heights Bike Network. We assisted citizens’ in Bay Village to develop and propose policy changes for a more bike friendly community. And we reached out to local police departments to promote a new bike safety enforcement curriculum.
- Transit advocacy — We helped RTA staff on issues of transit signal upgrades, signage, annual pass programs, transit-efficient mortgages, poetry on transit, and zoning for transit-oriented development.
- Transit Waiting Environments — Working with RTA and KSU’s Urban Design Center, we assisted with the development of design guidelines for improving the waiting experience at more than 8,000 bus stops in the region. We identified best practices in bus stop information and amenities and helped create and distribute a detailed public survey. Our advocacy of dedicated funding for this project helped prompt RTA to allocate $275,000 per year.
- Task force participation and technical assistance — We served on the Cleveland Innerbelt Scoping Committee, RTA Citizens' Advisory Board, Cleveland Mayor’s Pedestrian/Bicycle Advisory Committee, the local Transit Oriented Development group, and the Lakefront Plan Advisory Committee.
Organizational progress in 2004
Goal - Build a strong, enduring organization that is accountable to the community.
- Board development — We added two new directors to our Board in 2004: Tara Broderick, chief operating officer of Planned Parenthood of Greater Cleveland, and Stephanie McHenry, president of ShoreBank Cleveland. The Board also initiated processes to improve our employee handbook and bylaws.
- Staff — For our Lake Erie Balanced Growth project funded by the Joyce Foundation, we hired a full-time watershed planner/GIS specialist. This person, Joe MacDonald, has a Ph.D. in planning from the University of North Carolina and will bring valuable expertise to the environmental community in Northeast Ohio.
- Member involvement — Several hundred of our members joined us at our annual member party in September, which coincided with the ribbon cutting for RTA’s new W.65 th/EcoVillage Rapid station. We developed better administrative systems to recruit and retain members. And we continued to use our Web site and e-mail alerts to communicate with our members and other activists in the community.
- Cleveland Environmental Center — In 2003, we moved our offices into the Cleveland Environmental Center, a landmark green building in Cleveland. In 2004, we continued to work with fellow tenants to improve the Environmental Center facilities, host events there, and conduct numerous tours for people around the country and around the world.
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