Accomplishments in 2005
EcoCity Cleveland had another productive year in 2005. 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. We even incubated a new eco-business — CityWheels, a car-sharing company for Northeast Ohio.
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.
- CityWheels—We are incubating Ohio’s first car-sharing program by providing office space, fiscal agency and administrative support to this spin-off company founded by Ryan McKenzie, our transportation program manager. To date we have administered $35,000 in charitable funds to support pre-launch planning and public education about transportation alternatives. CityWheels members will have access to the company’s “by-the-hour” hybrid vehicles starting in February 2006.
- Lake Erie Balanced Growth —We are a key partner in the Ohio Lake Erie Commission’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 Sustainability Programs Manager. We now chair the steering committee that supports this staff person with ideas, technical assistance, and research.
- Regional conservation planning — On behalf of numerous conservation organizations, we are the fiscal agent for the development of a regional plan for the conservation of biodiversity.
- Cleveland EcoVillage —We are the fiscal sponsor and provide organizational support to the EcoVillage project, a partnership with the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization.
- GreenCityBlueLake.org—We created an interactive Web portal for other environmental and conservation organizations in Northeast Ohio. In addition to a comprehensive calendar of events, the site includes an interactive network map of the sustainability movement in the region, a graphic display that allows one to see the complex web of relationships between organizations and project.
- Urban gardens —In 2005, we continued to facilitate the work group of community garden leaders in Cleveland to explore how to provide permanent protection to significant urban garden sites threatened by development.
- Transportation alternatives —We provided assistance to many cities and organizations working to design streets for pedestrians and cyclists.
- Burning River Fest 2005 —We were the nonprofit fiscal sponsor for this summer festival about water quality organized by the Great Lakes Brewing Co.
- Cleveland Environmental Center —In collaboration with the Green Building Coalition and Environmental Health Watch, we support 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.
- [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.
- EcoCity Cleveland website - In 2005, we continued to maintain our www.ecocitycleveland.org site with the best in-depth content on local environmental issues.
- GreenCityBlueLake website portal - We developed and now maintain this new web portal for sustainability-related organizations in Northeast Ohio – the one place to go to find out what’s happening. Its interactive database capability allows each group to post calendar events, job listings, and activist alerts. It also has a cool graphic map of the broad network for sustainability in the region.
- Greater Ohio website - We maintained the attractive site of the Greater Ohio campaign, a professional online presence for the statewide policy effort.
- Web development workshops and consulting - To share our knowledge and skills, we conducted a series of well attended workshops to help other nonprofit organizations develop great websites. Topics included site purpose, branding, architecture, graphics, interactive features, hosting, and maintenance. In addition, we provided free consulting assistance to a group of other nonprofit organizations to improve their websites.
- 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. Reporters often use our staff as a resource, calling them for background and ideas when scoping out stories.
- Public speaking - We averaged about two public presentations a month to civic organizations, church groups, college classes, or conferences. Popular topics included regional planning issues in Northeast Ohio, bioregional thinking, transportation planning, watershed planning, website development, and best design practices for waterfront development.
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 natural resources. 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, Cincinnati, and Youngstown are now organizing everyone who is concerned about the way Ohio is currently growing. The campaign is especially focused on developing policy solutions for Ohio’s next governor, and in 2005 it began providing educational materials to all gubernatorial candidates so that land use and planning issues become a major part of the 2006 campaign.
- 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 four 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 2005, we continued working with funding from the Joyce Foundation to assist the state’s Balanced Growth Initiative by providing analysis of which policies affect the location of development, as well as a decision-support system to help communities in a watershed evaluate where growth is most suitable. This work could provide a national model for determining what state incentives produce better growth patterns and what processes can enable voluntary regional planning to protect water quality.
- Regional conservation planning - Many organizations — including park districts, land trusts, and national organizations such as The Nature Conservancy and Trust for Public Land — are working to preserve natural areas in Northeast Ohio. To provide better coordination for all these land protection efforts, a regional consortium of organizations is developing a science-based plan to protect and restore biodiversity. We are helping to direct this work and are the fiscal agent home for the funding that supports it.
- Task force/committee representation - In 2005, we promoted smart growth and open space conservation by serving on the following: Clean Ohio Natural Resources Assistance Council (NRAC) chair for Cuyahoga County, Regional Biodiversity Partnership, Northeast Ohio Regional Conservation Fund Steering Committee, Northeast Ohio Home Builders Smart Growth Education Foundation, Cuyahoga County Blue Ribbon Economic Development Task Force, Holden Arboretum Council.
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. The staff person, Andrew Watterson, is already devising innovative ways for the city to save energy, reduce waste, improve purchasing policies, and promote high-performance buildings.
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, along with ParkWorks and Cleveland Public Art, we helped to develop a plan for the ecological restoration of the Zone Recreation Center greenspace. And we are helping to study the potential for mixed-use, transit-oriented development around the EcoVillage Rapid station, as well as how to calm traffic on Lorain Avenue.
BLUE Project - Our BLUE Project (Building the Livable Urban Edge) seeks to influence the city’s lakefront planning process. In 2005, we participated in civic discussions about a new park on Whiskey Island and a nature preserve at Dike 14. We also supported the work of the Dike 14 Collaborative to develop an independent conceptual plan for Dike 14.
- Task force/committee representation - We served on the City of Cleveland Lakefront Advisory Council; 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.
- CityWheels car-sharing company —see above under collaborations for our support of this exciting start-up company.
- 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.
- Active living and walkable urban neighborhoods —Working with the STEPS for a Healthier Cleveland program of Cleveland’s Department of Public Health, we are developing community maps that define opportunities to safely walk, bike and exercise daily. The maps will also show community garden locations and stores offering fresh, healthy foods.
- Bike/pedestrian planning and advocacy —In communities throughout the region, we are helping citizens and public officials transform streets into great places for people. We purchased bicycle lane-marking stencils and are making them available to public agencies. In our work with the Slavic Village “A Community on the Move” program, we led engineering and traffic commissioners from the City of Cleveland on a working tour of Chicago’s bicycle facilities and inspired them to initiative changes here at home.
- Transit advocacy —We helped RTA staff obtain dozens of new bicycle racks at key rail and bus stops, and have worked to promote awareness of their Transit Waiting Environments initiative to improve information and amenities at bus stops.
- 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, Lakefront Plan Advisory Committee, and NOACA Air Quality Public Advisory Task Force.
Organizational progress in 2005
Goal - Build a strong, enduring organization that is accountable to the community.
- Board development —We added two new directors to our Board in 2005: Joseph Shafran, president of Paran Management; and Patrick Manfroni, program coordinator of (i)Cleveland.
- Member involvement —Several thousand of our members and friends joined us at our annual GreenCityBlueLake awards ceremony in August at the Burning River Festival on Cleveland’s lakefront. 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 —We continued to work with fellow tenants of this landmark green building to improve the facilities, host events, offer sponsorship so that other organizations could use the conference rooms, and conduct numerous tours for people around the country and around the world.
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