Accomplishments in 2006
EcoCity Cleveland had another productive year in 2006. 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:
Collaborations for sustainability
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.
- GreenCityBlueLake.org — We created this interactive Web portal for all the sustainability-related organizations and activities in Northeast Ohio. In addition to lots of current news, it features a comprehensive calendar of events, job listings, and places to develop and track regional strategies in the major practice areas of sustainability.
- Lake Erie Balanced Growth Initiative — We continue to be 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. We also act as fiscal agent for project grants obtained by the program.
- Regional biodiversity planning — On behalf of all the conservation organizations that make up the Lake Erie Allegheny Partnership for Biodiversity, we are the fiscal agent and a key technical advisor for the development of a regional plan for 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.
- Transportation alternatives — We provided assistance to many cities and organizations working to design streets for pedestrians and cyclists.
- Bioneers — We were the fiscal agent to support a successful bid to bring a major sustainability conference to Cleveland via satellite in 2007.
- Voices & Choices — Our staff members participated actively in the Voices & Choices civic engagement process to set priorities for the region.
- 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.
- [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.
- GreenCityBlueLake web portal — This is becoming the place to find out what’s happening in the sustainability community. The site is a community workspace (using the latest, open source, interactive web platform) for sharing stories, linking up, and developing strategies for making the region more sustainable in key areas such as energy, water, land, food, building, and economy. Frequent email updates from GreenCityBlueLake help to keep thousands of people informed.
- Greater Ohio website — We maintained the attractive site of the Greater Ohio campaign, a professional online presence for the statewide policy effort.
GreenCityBlueLake Awards — Several thousand of our members and friends joined us at our annual GreenCityBlueLake awards ceremony in August at the Burning River Festival on Whiskey Island.
- 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. And our work is cited regularly by the online community.
- 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.
- Branding the region — We believe that Cleveland (as well as other cities in Northeast Ohio) should become known as the green city on a blue lake. In an effort to insert green thinking into regional branding efforts, we are participating on the Greater Cleveland Marketing Alliance’s Council of Regional Marketers.
Smart growth and bioregional planning
Goal — Promote a better balance of city and countryside in Ohio.
- 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 effort has now taken off as Greater Ohio, a campaign for which we act as chair and principal fiscal sponsor. In 2006, Greater Ohio successfully raised land use and urban redevelopment issues into the gubernatorial election and other races. The Greater Ohio Candidates’ Briefing Book was widely distributed and became an essential resource. And Greater Ohio state director Gene Krebs was an influential force on the state study committee on eminent domain.
- 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 five 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 2005-2006, 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 2006, we promoted smart growth and open space conservation by serving on the following: Clean Ohio Natural Resources Assistance Council (NRAC) chair for Cuyahoga County, Lake Erie Allegheny Partnership for Biodiversity plan steering committee, Northeast Ohio Home Builders Smart Growth Education Foundation, Cuyahoga County Blue Ribbon Economic Development Task Force, and Holden Arboretum Council.
Cleveland EcoVillage and ecological design
Goal - Promote high performance buildings, neighborhoods, and businesses.
- 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 are helping to raise funds 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. In addition, three new EcoVillage cottage homes will demonstrate how green building can be affordable.
- HOME House exhibit — We were a co-sponsor of the HOME House exhibit at the Cleveland Institute of Art, a national exhibit about the intersection of green building, affordable housing, and cutting-edge design.
- 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. We continue to assist the program with advice and fiscal agent support for project grants.
- Building Cleveland by Design — We are participating in this collaboration to raise the bar of sustainability in large development projects in Cleveland.
- World Urban Forum — We attended the UN’s World Urban Forum in Vancouver and brought back the latest thinking about sustainable cities to Cleveland.
- Task force/committee representation — We served on the City of Cleveland Lakefront Advisory Council 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 — After promoting the idea of car-sharing in Cleveland, we helped to incubate this innovative start-up.
- 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. A special focus in 2006 was the accommodation of pedestrians and cyclists in the Cleveland Innerbelt project.
- Task force participation and technical assistance — We served on the Cleveland Innerbelt Scoping Committee, Cleveland Mayor’s Pedestrian/Bicycle Advisory Committee, Lakefront Plan Advisory Committee, and NOACA Air Quality Public Advisory Task Force.
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