The Cleveland EcoVillage and the ecological importance of cities

The following remarks were made by EcoCity Cleveland executive director David Beach at the dedication of the EcoVillage Town Homes on W. 58th Street on June 9, 2004.

Thank you. EcoCity Cleveland has been proud to be a partner in the EcoVillage and the W. 58th St. Town Homes development.

I'd like to take a moment and reflect on the concept of an ecovillage. It starts with an appreciation of cities. And I'll make a bold statement: The future of the human species indeed, the fate of the entire earth depends on the success of cities.

This is true because, just recently, humanity made an historic transition. Around the world there are now more people living in urban environments than in rural environments more people in cities that in the countryside.

So, if cities are where most people are living, where most of the earth's resources are consumed, where most of the energy is used, and where most of the waste and pollution are produced, then we have to figure out how to make cities better places. We need places that are better for people and better for the earth.

The design of sustainable, ecological cities will be one of the key challenges of the 21st century. And that's were ecovillages come in.

Ecovillages are experiments in designing human habitats that balance the needs of people, the economy, and nature. Our Cleveland EcoVillage is significant because it's in a real city neighborhood. It can demonstrate how older cities like Cleveland can be redeveloped.

Origins of the Cleveland EcoVillage

The origins of the EcoVillage date back to the mid-90s, when a number of us noticed encouraging signs of neighborhood redevelopment in Cleveland. But we also noticed that most of the development was pretty conventional design and construction.

So we thought it would be great to find a place to demonstrate how to redevelop in a different way building houses that conserve energy and are healthier for the residents, building around convenient transit so people don't have to drive so much, restoring degraded natural habitats.

In 1996 we worked with partners at Cleveland State to study the feasibility of an ecovillage project in Cleveland. Prof. Wendy Kellogg at the Levin College of Urban Affairs conducted the study with the help of Phil Star of the Center for Neighborhood Development and Mikelann Rensel of the Cleveland Neighborhood Development Coalition. They surveyed neighborhoods throughout the city to find a location that had the right mix of ingredients diversity, development opportunities, strong community development organization and other neighborhood assets, access to transit, and interest in adopting the concept of an ecovillage.

We ended up here the area around the W. 65th Rapid stop. EcoCity Cleveland formed a partnership with the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization, and we've had an amazing relationship ever since. Detroit Shoreway does the development, and EcoCity brings the ecovillage concept and technical assistance to make the development as green as possible.

In 1997, we helped the neighborhood create a conceptual plan for the Cleveland EcoVillage area, and one of the things that plan identified was this site as a location for town homes.

I don't have time to list all of the other things we've all accomplished in the past few years and all the recognition the EcoVillage has received, in Northeast Ohio and around the country. I just want to say that it's been a great experience. Everyone is supportive the Campbell administration, Councilman Matt Zone, our funders, local universities, and, most of all, the residents of the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood.

We have big plans for the next phases of EcoVillage development. I believe that the Cleveland EcoVillage project has tremendous potential. It is a place where many new ideas and many partners can find a home. It can demonstrate the best thinking about neighborhood redevelopment, ecological design, and sustainable communities.

It's helping to give Cleveland a new reputation as a green city a city that takes less from the earth and gives more to people.

Thank you.


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EcoCity Cleveland
3500 Lorain Avenue, Suite 301, Cleveland OH 44113
Cuyahoga Bioregion
(216) 961-5020
Copyright 2002-2004



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Photos of the Town Homes ribbon-cutting


I'd like to take a moment and reflect on the concept of an ecovillage. It starts with an appreciation of cities. And I'll make a bold statement: The future of the human species indeed, the fate of the entire earth depends on the success of cities.


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