Three days in May 2000

By Philmore Hart

The Sustainable Communities Symposium 2000 on May 11-13 was intense, emotional, creative, active, hopeful, optimistic, and a mixture of hard work, listening, fun, food, and serendipitous meeting of different people from a variety of backgrounds and professions all deeply interested in creating a sustainable/livable Northeast Ohio region.

The planning committee envisioned three outcomes from the symposium:

  • Discuss and reach consensus on meanings of "sustainable community."
  • Develop the "next steps" for regional sustainability.
  • Begin to develop strategic plans for the Northeast Ohio region.
  • Through a series of speakers and participatory events, these outcome goals were attained, affirmed and adopted by acclamation.

Priorities for change

In the months leading up to the symposium, four working groups (Architecture and Urban Design, Infrastructure, Business and Economics, and Political/Legal) developed goals and objectives for making our region more sustainable. These were reviewed by symposium participants, and in the reporting-out process it became clear that the three most important objectives concerned the need for:

  • Political action to change the State of Ohio's laws and basic policies that now work against sustainability.
  • Regional planning and coordination of land-use, infrastructure, and the distribution of tax base.
  • A Northeast Ohio regional organization to be a catalyst for planning and action to create economic, equitable, sustainable, and livable communities.

Another theme that emerged from these sessions was a desire to expand the SCS 2000 discussions to include major issues such as health, education, and neighborhoods. Participants also realized that sustainability requires a holistic integration of the efforts of the working groups.

Continuing the networking

The closing session of the symposium featured a discussion of a potential organization that could carry on the work of sustainability in our region. Approximately 20 tables of four to six participants outlined the functions of such an organization and how could it be configured. Three alternative concepts emerged:

  • An "Open Space" organization that would provide a gathering place and relevant information so that any and all groups can meet and discuss needs, plans, and actions for a sustainable region.
  • Based within an existing organization or institution, form coordinating groups to accomplish the many functions required for cooperative regional planning and political actions.
  • Create a new umbrella organization or federation to accomplish the many functions required for cooperative regional planning and appropriate educational and political actions.

The last portion of the symposium also included an "open microphone" where following addresses by U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich, RTA general manager Joseph Calabrese, and Mark Tomasch of LTV Steel, people from various organizations, businesses and institutions of our area presented their perspectives on sustainability. It was truly amazing to hear the variety of thoughts and actions already taking place in the region once again emphasizing the need to come together to capture that energy into an integrated whole.

Since the symposium in May, the planning committee has continued to meet and plan the next steps for the SCS 2000 process, continue communications with the participants and the general public, and work toward our goal of transforming Northeast Ohio into a sustainable/livable region. Everyone who attended SCS 2000 came away with the understanding that the event was only the beginning. Yet they were optimistic that, by acting together, we will accomplish our goal.

Phil Hart chairs the SCS 2000 planning committee and is a past president of the Cleveland chapter of the American Institute of Architects.


Back to top

EcoCity Cleveland
3500 Lorain Avenue, Suite 301, Cleveland OH 44113
Cuyahoga Bioregion
(216) 961-5020
Copyright 2002-2003



Proceedings of Sustainable Communities Symposium 2000
Three days in May 2000
Symposium agenda
The thought and practice of sustainability
Themes of the discussion
Agenda for architecture/urban design
Agenda for business/economics
Agenda for infrastructure
Agenda for political/legal issues
Agenda for health
Forging a regional civic vision
Committed to people and place
Sustainability pledge
Quotes from speakers
Resources for sustainability

Download publication of SCS 2000 proceedings

Back to main sustainability page
Go to SCS 2000 site

go to home page go to home page

Related Links:









Partner Links