local preservation blogger leads walking tour of east cleveland

Lee Chilcote Thursday, June 07, 2012
Christopher Busta-Peck first became interested in teaching others about Cleveland’s architectural history when he developed summer history programs for kids as part of his job as a children’s librarian.

Too fascinated to put the material down, he soon found himself enmeshed in creating a local history and preservation blog, Cleveland Area History, that has been called the voice of history and historic preservation in Northeast Ohio.

Part of what motivates Busta-Peck is the simple notion that our area’s history often lies “hidden in plain sight” between modern buildings, tucked amid neighborhoods or covered up by garish additions. He also believes historic buildings are among the competitive advantages our city should trumpet.

“We have historic buildings that set us apart from other parts of the country,” he says. “It’s a monetary asset we need to think of when compared to other cities.”

Through working to elevate the discussion about urban history, Busta-Peck hopes to make saving Cleveland’s forgotten fabric a bigger part of our civic discourse.

On Saturday, June 9th, Busta-Peck will lead a walking tour of East Cleveland in collaboration with SPACES. Among the sites on the tour are a stone tannery he touts as one of the most significant early industrial sites in Cleveland and a large, once beautiful mansion that now lies hidden behind a gas station.

Source: Christopher Busta-Peck
Writer: Lee Chilcote


trails and greenways conference aims to set goals for regional trail system

Lee Chilcote Thursday, June 07, 2012
When the Cleveland Clinic decided to expand its offices at the Independence Technology Center, it cited the nearby presence of the planned Hemlock Trail as one of the reasons behind its investment.

To Dave Linchek of the West Creek Preservation Committee, who has worked for years to make the Hemlock Trail a reality, that’s further evidence that Northeast Ohio’s trails and greenways not only add to our quality of life, but also enhance our bottom line.

Linchek and other trail advocates created the Greater Cleveland Trails and Greenways Conference in 2010 to bring together leaders for networking, discussion and collaboration. The second biennial conference on Wednesday, June 6th, has elevated the regional discussion to the next level, says Linchek.

“There are a multitude of individual trail plans out there, but we want to spell out our goals as a region,” says Linchek. While many cities agree trails are important, they may lack the funding, know how and political will to build them, he says.

Some of the most exciting developments in Northeast Ohio include the proposed Lake Link Trail from the Towpath to Whiskey Island; the section of the Towpath from Steelyard Commons to the Flats that is being developed; the city of Cleveland’s renewed focus on bicycle and pedestrian planning; and the Metroparks’ newfound openness to creating mountain bike trails.

Source: Dave Linchek
Writer: Lee Chilcote


recycling and composting forum highlights need to ramp up city goals, create jobs

Lee Chilcote Thursday, June 07, 2012
Communities in Cuyahoga County are recycling about 50 percent of their waste on average, Diane Bickett, Executive Director of the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District, told the audience at the recent Cleveland Composting and Recycling Forum.

Austin, Texas has an ambitious goal of reaching zero waste by 2040, which means reducing the amount of trash sent to landfills by 90 percent.

The question now becomes: How does our region advance those goals while encouraging communities with dismal levels of recycling to raise the bar? That was the question that Bickett posed to the crowd during the one-day examination of recycling and composting in our region.

The City of Cleveland has one of the lowest levels of recycling in Cuyahoga County at about seven percent. Cleveland Heights and Lakewood hover around 60 percent, and Pepper Pike is over 70 percent. Bickett said that Cleveland and other cities could improve recycling rates by focusing on new, automated technologies, expanding organic collection, adding more recycling in public spaces, making citywide policy changes, and better educating residents and businesses.

Beyond the sustainability benefits, recycling also creates jobs. “For every job in the disposal industry, 17 are created in the recycling industry,” Bickett said.

Given the prowess of the local food and urban agriculture movements in Cleveland, Bickett cited an opportunity to create composting facilities run by volunteers and community organizations that generate nutrient-rich soil.

Councilman Brian Cummins criticized the city’s one-size-fits-all disposal fee and unambitious recycling goals (the city aims to recycle up to 25 percent of its waste by building a waste-to-energy facility and rolling out curbside recycling citywide).

Cummins also promoted the idea that recycling could generate local jobs, although he and Bickett acknowledged that recycling programs actually cost cities money.

City of Cleveland representatives were invited to attend the forum but declined.

Source: Diane Bickett, Brian Cummins
Writer: Lee Chilcote


midtown cleveland celebrates the reinvention of its thriving neighborhood

Lee Chilcote Thursday, June 07, 2012
Technology, health care, food, and rock and roll: These are just a few of the industries flourishing in the eclectic Midtown neighborhood, its leaders told a sold out crowd at the Midtown Cleveland Inc. annual meeting at the InterContinental Hotel.

Key accomplishments within the past year include a successful lawsuit that stopped the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) from closing Innerbelt ramps until a study has been completed; breaking ground on several new projects within the Health-Tech Corridor; securing a commitment for a new Third District police headquarters on Chester Avenue; facilitating the redevelopment of the historic Agora Theatre; and completing a new plan to transform the East 55th and Euclid intersection into a more vibrant downtown for the neighborhood.

“We are succeeding in reinventing MidTown Cleveland,” said Director Jim Haviland.

“A healthy urban core helps all boats to rise, and MidTown is an example,” said Len Komoroski, President of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena, during a keynote address that touted the Cavs’ investment in Cleveland. Komoroski said the Cavs had spent millions renovating Quicken Loans Arena into a “dynamic urban environment” that attracted people to visit downtown.

Komoroski shrugged off concerns that the new Horseshoe Casino would be a self-contained facility whose visitors would not spend money elsewhere in Cleveland. “This is a decidedly knit-into-the-urban-environment casino,” he said. As an example of the spillover benefits of a casino that Komoroski claimed is “underserved from a food and beverage perspective,” he cited the fact that Michael Symon recently tweeted about a record night at Lola on East 4th.

Source: Jim Haviland, Len Komoroski
Writer: Lee Chilcote


environmental groups host forum to promote recycling and composting

Lee Chilcote Thursday, May 24, 2012
Last fall, when the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency held a hearing on the City of Cleveland’s proposed waste-to-energy plant, hundreds of protesters turned out to decry the plans.

The gasification plant, which would turn trash into energy to be used by Cleveland Public Power, would result in unacceptable levels of pollution in urban neighborhoods, environmental groups said.

Since then, the city has terminated its agreement with its controversial consultant, Peter Tien. However, CPP says that it is still studying the waste-to-energy plant as well as other options to increase recycling, reduce costs and generate electricity.

To capitalize on the renewed interest in recycling and composting generated by the public meetings earlier this year, environmental groups are now pressing the city to develop a more comprehensive plan. Ohio Citizen Action, Earthday Coalition and other groups have organized the Cleveland Composting and Recycling Forum on Saturday, June 2nd at the downtown YMCA.

“Clevelanders have said loud and clear that they want stronger recycling programs,” commented Chris Trepal, Executive Director of Earth Day Coalition, in a news release. “The urban gardening and local food community in Cleveland creates hundreds of opportunities for the productive use of compost.”

“We’re hoping to bring in good ideas from other cities,” adds Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director of Ohio Citizen Action, who says that the local and national speakers attending the event will provide a litany of successful models.

The public forum takes place at a crucial time, as the city is gearing up to roll out its recycling program to additional neighborhoods over the course of the summer.

Brian Cummins, a Cleveland Councilman who represents the Brooklyn Centre, Clark-Fulton and Stockyards neighborhoods adjacent to the proposed gasification plant, says that the city’s recycling program needs improvement.

“The city claims this is a comprehensive system, but they haven’t been able to roll it out citywide due to budget problems,” he says. “We need to look at incentives to recycle, such as ‘pay as you throw’ fees that other cities are now using.”

The City of Cleveland has stated that its goal in the next few years is to roll out its recycling program to all neighborhoods. No composting program currently exists.

Source: Chris Trepal, Brian Cummins
Writer: Lee Chilcote


edgewater beach cleanups seek to revitalize cleveland’s lakefront

Lee Chilcote Thursday, May 24, 2012
In April, 51 volunteers picked up more than 500 pounds of trash at Edgewater Park as part of an effort to revitalize our city’s beaches and reconnect Clevelanders to our lakefront parks.

Among the items that were collected at Edgewater that day were more than 3,000 cigar tips that had washed up in Edgewater cove.

Cleveland has the dubious distinction of being a leader in cigar tip pollution in the Great Lakes region, says Erin Huber of Drink Local Drink Tap. Currently, Huber has the cigar tips soaking in soapy water in her basement. She plans to complete an art project with them in order to raise awareness about pollution in Lake Erie.

Huber says that the beach cleanups help to improve the city’s neglected system of lakefront parks. “It makes me absolutely furious, because the state park staff are basically glorified garbage people who hardly even have time to replace broken light bulbs,” she says. “The state parks don’t have any money, but all of the volunteer hours we log can be used to apply for funding for the park.”

Although Huber believes that the long-term solution for the lakefront parks is for the City of Cleveland to hire the Metroparks to more effectively manage them, she is encouraged by the diverse array of beach lovers that have pitched in to help so far. These events help to build an active constituency for the parks, she says.

The Friends of Edgewater Park, the nonprofit group that partners with Drink Local Drink Tap on the cleanups, is focusing its efforts on supporting Ohio Department of Natural Resources staff through a range of activities.

The next “Pancakes and Trash” beach cleanup, which is cosponsored by Friends of Edgewater Park, the Ohio Sierra Club, Cleveland Lakefront State Parks and 106.5 The Lake, takes place on Saturday, June 2nd from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. The Ohio Sierra Club is hosting a free pancake breakfast that begins at 9 a.m.

Source: Erin Huber
Writer: Lee Chilcote


produce perks program addresses fresh food gaps in city neighborhoods

Lee Chilcote Thursday, May 24, 2012
When the Broadway Farmers Market in Slavic Village piloted a new program to offer a dollar-for-dollar match to Ohio Direction Card customers who purchase produce, it experienced a 191-percent increase in Direction Card sales in one year.

By offering incentives, the Produce Perks program helps to ensure that fresh, locally grown produce gets into low-income households where it’s needed most. Many city residents do not have a grocery store with fresh produce within walking distance of their home. The program offers a dollar-for-dollar match up to $10.

This summer, the Produce Perks program is being expanded to 17 local farmers markets throughout Cuyahoga County. The program has been successful at helping lower-income residents to overcome obstacles that inhibit them from shopping at farmers markets and boosting their produce purchasing power, organizers say.

“We know that there are more people using local food assistance programs due to the economy, so how do we get them to local farmers markets?” says Erika Meschkat, Program Coordinator with the Ohio State University Extension. “This is about improving public health, boosting local food production and creating economic development opportunities at neighborhood farmers markets.”

Meschkat says that the Produce Perks program helps farmers markets to profit from an untapped market. While many suburban market managers are shocked to realize that they have customers on food assistance, too, it benefits them as well.

The program is part of a regional push to address healthy food gaps by helping low-income residents to take advantage of farmers markets. Produce Perks is coordinated by the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition with the support of several area foundations and Wholesome Wave, a national nonprofit organization focused on access to healthy, affordable foods in poor communities.

Source: Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition
Writer: Lee Chilcote


princeton prize winner educates classmates on chinese heritage

Lee Chilcote Thursday, May 24, 2012
The Princeton Prize in Race Relations is awarded each year to outstanding high school students across the country who are helping to increase understanding and mutual respect among all races and cultures.

The Cleveland prize, now in its second year, was recently awarded to Demi Zhang, a freshman at Orange High School who has devoted herself to achieving racial and cultural harmony through teaching others. Zhang has exposed her community to Chinese culture through art and music (she plays the Gu-Zheng, which is the Chinese zither) and created a Chinese club for neighborhood children.

“I found that people were not very aware of Chinese culture in Northeast Ohio, even though we have a sizeable Chinese community here,” says the Pepper Pike resident. “Our Chinese heritage is important to my parents and grandparents, and I inherited that. Along with preserving my own identity, I wanted to address different barriers that exist between cultures in the form of ignorance.”

“When people share aspects of their culture, they share part of their identity,” she adds. “That kind of understanding is what the Princeton Prize is all about.”

The winner of the Princeton Prize receives a $1,000 cash prize and is publicly recognized for his or her efforts. Two other Cleveland-area students — Prateek Singh, a freshman at Solon High School, and Shivangi Bhatia, a sophomore at Orange — received Certificates of Accomplishment for their work.

An awards event will take place on Thursday, May 24th at the Tudor Arms Hotel. For more information or to attend, contact Sandhya Gupta at sandhyag@alumni.princeton.edu.

Source: Sandhya Gupta, Demi Zhang
Writer: Lee Chilcote


cleveland lakefront preserve open house to showcase bird and butterfly mecca

Lee Chilcote Thursday, May 17, 2012
Every spring, the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve is a bustling, seasonal stopover for birds and butterflies on their annual migration northward. The 88-acre preserve, a former dredging containment facility reclaimed by nature, is now a unique, undeveloped park along Lake Erie.

Yet, while more than 280 species of birds have been spotted at this lush, wild site, many Clevelanders still don’t know about the preserve, which was created earlier this year by the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority. The Port hopes to change that by introducing a few more Northeast Ohioans to the park this weekend at its twice-annual open house and Migration Mania event.

“This is the only nature preserve in Cuyahoga County,” says Linda Sternheimer, Development Manager with the Port of Cleveland. “It’s also one of the few places where you can look at the lake without the breakwall and get a sense of the enormity of Lake Erie, and it offers unobstructed views of downtown.”

The open house takes place Saturday, May 19th from 7:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. The Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve is located east of I-90 and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Visitors are invited to walk the 1.3-mile loop trail and enjoy guided hikes by naturalists and presentations on the history and ecology of the site.

Source: Linda Sternheimer
Writer: Lee Chilcote


superheroes inspire boys to read and write at ohio city writers

Lee Chilcote Thursday, May 17, 2012
Two Cleveland boys from modest backgrounds in the Glenville neighborhood dreamed up Superman 80 years ago. The beloved character — and many more like him — have been rescuing boys from boredom and engaging them in reading and writing ever since.

This week, in an inspired twist on this fabled story, a group of third grade and seventh grade boys from Citizens Academy and University School are participating in a superheroes story workshop at Ohio City Writers, a new nonprofit writing center on Lorain Avenue in Ohio City.

The creators of the event hope that the workshop not only gets kids interested in reading and writing, but also helps them soar to new heights as engaged learners.

During the workshop, groups of boys will team up to create characters, settings and plots, then write their own superhero stories and share them with the group. It is being led by Frank Lewis, former Free Times and Scene editor and founder of Ohio City Writers.

Patty Dowd, Director of Student Enrichment at University School, says that extracurricular programs such as this one are important because they inspire boys to read and connect boys of different backgrounds in a fun, social setting.

“Reading is always an issue with boys, and they often don’t have male role models who read and like to read books that are recommended by other boys,” says Dowd. “Comic books are a great way to get boys into reading and writing.”

Source: Patty Dowd
Writer: Lee Chilcote


cleveland givecamp accepting applications for event offering free tech work

Lee Chilcote Thursday, May 17, 2012
Last year, Akron marketing professional Amy Wong signed up to attend Cleveland GiveCamp for a few hours and ended up staying the entire weekend. She was taken with its mission of helping nonprofits with tech projects — and she was having a good time.

This year, she hopes to deliver an even bigger impact by serving more nonprofits. GiveCamp, which is part of a national network of events that link technology professionals with nonprofits, is accepting applications until June 17th. The event takes place July 20th-22nd on LeanDog’s barge at North Coast Harbor.

“Not only do nonprofits get help, but the teams learn a lot about the nonprofit community,” says Wong of the event. “It’s a win-win situation on both fronts.”

Getting accepted into GiveCamp is competitive, and nonprofits must demonstrate a feasible project, community benefit and financial need. The projects help them better serve their constituencies by becoming more efficient and effective.

Last year, GiveCamp helped 23 nonprofit organizations with $500,000 worth of free development work. Completed projects include 17 new websites, three database applications, an iPhone app, Android app and mobile website.

Source: Amy Wong
Writer: Lee Chilcote


13-year-old brain cancer survivor paints gratitude guitar for guitarmania

Lee Chilcote Thursday, May 17, 2012
Whereas some kids bond with their dads over football or baseball, Jacob Friedman and his dad have always bonded over oldies music stars like Petula Clark and Dean Martin and old movies starring Tim Conway.

Five years ago, Friedman suddenly had blurry vision and he couldn’t get out of bed. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The nine-year-old listened to Clark’s “Downtown” to comfort him as he traveled from his home in Parma to Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in University Circle.

By a stroke of luck, Friedman later ran into Petula Clark while vacationing with his family at Disney World during a trip that was sponsored by the Make-a-Wish Foundation. He asked for her autograph and they talked for over an hour. Clark was so taken with the young boy’s story that she stayed in contact with him.

Figuring that he had nothing to lose, Friedman also emailed Tim Conway through his website. They soon struck up a relationship that continues to this day. Clark, Conway and some of Friedman’s other film and music heroes have encouraged him to stay hopeful about his recovery and pursue his dream of becoming an artist.

“It’s really meant a lot to me to have them a part of my life,” says Friedman.

Now, Friedman has achieved another one of his longtime dreams. The 13-year-old has painted a “gratitude guitar” as part of Guitarmania, an event that places large, colorfully painted guitars around Cleveland to benefit United Way and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s education programs. The guitar features a rendering of Petula Clark and Tim Conway, and will soon be revealed to them as a surprise.

“Jacob thought it would be a great opportunity to say thank you in a really big way,” says Steve Friedman, Jacob’s father. “He wanted it to be a surprise.”

The front of the guitar contains the words “laughter and music are the best medicine” and the guitar also features an image of Cleveland’s skyline.

The Guitarmania kickoff takes place on Friday, May 25th at the Rock Hall.

Source: Jacob Friedman, Steve Friedman
Writer: Lee Chilcote


cuyahoga arts and culture helps connect art and community

Lee Chilcote Thursday, May 10, 2012
Free classical concerts held in churches throughout the city, a science, math, technology and engineering (STEM) high school at Great Lakes Science Center, and a partnership between Inlet Dance Company and the Music Settlement are just a few of the unique projects funded by Cuyahoga Arts and Culture.

Since 2006, this countywide entity has invested over $80 million in nearly 200 organizations. Recently, CAC released new data showing that for every $1 that it has invested in arts and culture organizations, about $19 makes its way back into the regional economy.

CAC-funded organizations also serve over one million schoolchildren per year and more than 6.4 million visitors to the region. Moreover, about 55 percent of the groups that receive CAC funding require no admission charge at all.

One of the biggest developments in Cleveland’s arts and culture scene, however, is the innovative ways in which nonprofit arts organizations are connecting with local communities. Karen Gahl-Mills, the organization’s Executive Director, says that one of CAC’s biggest areas of growth is in small project support.

“We see arts activity happening in unusual places,” she says. “The projects aren’t necessarily new, but people know who we are now. We’re doing outreach to communities where people were not applying for grants before.”

Gahl-Mills also says that Cuyahoga County’s robust system of public arts funding, which stems from a countywide cigarette tax passed in 2006, is the envy of many other cities. “A lot of cities look at Cleveland and say, ‘They did it, why can’t we?'”

In the end, CAC will only be successful if it achieves its mission of maximizing community benefit. “Our goal is to make the community better by investing in arts and culture, so we’re reaching into the community in different ways.”

Source: Karen Gahl-Mills
Writer: Lee  Chilcote


drink local drink tap founder travels to uganda to film documentary

Lee Chilcote Thursday, May 10, 2012
Mentor native Erin Huber wasn’t exactly sure how she would bring together her passion for water conservation and international development when she finished graduate school. She’d grown up in a blue collar family that spent summer weekends camping near lakes, streams and rivers, and those early experiences nourished her love of fresh water.

After completing her master’s degree in Environmental Studies at the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University, she decided to create her own nonprofit organization to bring together these passions under a single roof.

Drink Local Drink Tap is a new organization that works to educate Clevelanders about the pollution that is created by drinking plastic bottles of water and the need to conserve fresh water locally and internationally. To educate both youth and adults, Huber creates water-themed art installations and provides free environmental education at schools.

Next month, Huber will fly to Uganda, where she and her team members will bore a 70-meter hole to provide fresh drinking water to hundreds of residents in a small village there. Currently, children must walk over a mile to find a water source near the village, and the water isn’t clean or safe. Huber and her team members also are filming a documentary entitled Making Waves from Cleveland to Uganda that will be released at next year’s Cleveland International Film Festival.

For Huber, the project is about sharing the water wealth of the Great Lakes — which hold 20 percent of the world’s fresh water — with areas in dire need.

Huber, who describes her group as a “very nonprofit organization,” is still raising funds for the project. You can donate to the cause on the organization’s website.

Source: Erin Huber
Writer: Lee Chilcote


local coffee companies host latte art throwdown for guatemalan relief

Lee Chilcote Thursday, May 10, 2012

Next time that your favorite barista etches a flower in your foamy mug of latte, savor it for a moment before you take a sip. He or she may actually be practicing for For the Love of Latte Art, an educational event and latte art throwdown that is being hosted this weekend by Cleveland-area coffee companies.

The event, which is being hosted by a new coffee collective called CLE Brews, will include skill-building workshops for professional and amateur baristas who are interested in learning the craft of latte art. It concludes with a “Latte Art Throwdown” in which participants will be judged on their latte art. All proceeds of the event will benefit the Asobagri Co-op Disaster Relief Fund in Huehuetenango, Guatemala, an area that was devastated by intense rainfall last year.

“Our goal is to build unity, share ideas and really push the coffee culture in Cleveland,” says Nathan Lilly, a Manager and Trainer with Phoenix Coffee Company. “We’ve done events like this before, but never on this big of a scale. We’d like to make this an annual event showcasing coffee in Cleveland.”

CLE Brews is a collective comprised of Phoenix Coffee Company, Erie Island Coffee Company, Caruso’s Coffee and Red Cedar Coffee. The winner of the Latte Art Throwdown will receive a $4,000 espresso machine donated by Nuova Simonelli and entry into Coffee Fest Seattle’s Latte Art Competition.

Competition should be fierce: Lilly says the local coffee scene has talented baristas who can sketch swans, clovers, rabbits and even tulips into a steaming cup of latte.

The event takes place this Saturday, May 12th at Cuyahoga Community College’s Hospitality Management Center at Public Square in downtown Cleveland.

Source: Nathan Lilly
Writer: Lee Chilcote

13-year-old brain cancer survivor paints gratitude guitar for guitarmania

Lee Chilcote Thursday, May 17, 2012
Whereas some kids bond with their dads over football or baseball, Jacob Friedman and his dad have always bonded over oldies music stars like Petula Clark and Dean Martin and old movies starring Tim Conway.

Five years ago, Friedman suddenly had blurry vision and he couldn’t get out of bed. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The nine-year-old listened to Clark’s “Downtown” to comfort him as he traveled from his home in Parma to Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in University Circle.

By a stroke of luck, Friedman later ran into Petula Clark while vacationing with his family at Disney World during a trip that was sponsored by the Make-a-Wish Foundation. He asked for her autograph and they talked for over an hour. Clark was so taken with the young boy’s story that she stayed in contact with him.

Figuring that he had nothing to lose, Friedman also emailed Tim Conway through his website. They soon struck up a relationship that continues to this day. Clark, Conway and some of Friedman’s other film and music heroes have encouraged him to stay hopeful about his recovery and pursue his dream of becoming an artist.

“It’s really meant a lot to me to have them a part of my life,” says Friedman.

Now, Friedman has achieved another one of his longtime dreams. The 13-year-old has painted a “gratitude guitar” as part of Guitarmania, an event that places large, colorfully painted guitars around Cleveland to benefit United Way and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s education programs. The guitar features a rendering of Petula Clark and Tim Conway, and will soon be revealed to them as a surprise.

“Jacob thought it would be a great opportunity to say thank you in a really big way,” says Steve Friedman, Jacob’s father. “He wanted it to be a surprise.”

The front of the guitar contains the words “laughter and music are the best medicine” and the guitar also features an image of Cleveland’s skyline.

The Guitarmania kickoff takes place on Friday, May 25th at the Rock Hall.

Source: Jacob Friedman, Steve Friedman
Writer: Lee Chilcote


cuyahoga arts and culture helps connect art and community

Lee Chilcote Thursday, May 10, 2012
Free classical concerts held in churches throughout the city, a science, math, technology and engineering (STEM) high school at Great Lakes Science Center, and a partnership between Inlet Dance Company and the Music Settlement are just a few of the unique projects funded by Cuyahoga Arts and Culture.

Since 2006, this countywide entity has invested over $80 million in nearly 200 organizations. Recently, CAC released new data showing that for every $1 that it has invested in arts and culture organizations, about $19 makes its way back into the regional economy.

CAC-funded organizations also serve over one million schoolchildren per year and more than 6.4 million visitors to the region. Moreover, about 55 percent of the groups that receive CAC funding require no admission charge at all.

One of the biggest developments in Cleveland’s arts and culture scene, however, is the innovative ways in which nonprofit arts organizations are connecting with local communities. Karen Gahl-Mills, the organization’s Executive Director, says that one of CAC’s biggest areas of growth is in small project support.

“We see arts activity happening in unusual places,” she says. “The projects aren’t necessarily new, but people know who we are now. We’re doing outreach to communities where people were not applying for grants before.”

Gahl-Mills also says that Cuyahoga County’s robust system of public arts funding, which stems from a countywide cigarette tax passed in 2006, is the envy of many other cities. “A lot of cities look at Cleveland and say, ‘They did it, why can’t we?'”

In the end, CAC will only be successful if it achieves its mission of maximizing community benefit. “Our goal is to make the community better by investing in arts and culture, so we’re reaching into the community in different ways.”

Source: Karen Gahl-Mills
Writer: Lee  Chilcote


drink local drink tap founder travels to uganda to film documentary

Lee Chilcote Thursday, May 10, 2012
Mentor native Erin Huber wasn’t exactly sure how she would bring together her passion for water conservation and international development when she finished graduate school. She’d grown up in a blue collar family that spent summer weekends camping near lakes, streams and rivers, and those early experiences nourished her love of fresh water.

After completing her master’s degree in Environmental Studies at the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University, she decided to create her own nonprofit organization to bring together these passions under a single roof.

Drink Local Drink Tap is a new organization that works to educate Clevelanders about the pollution that is created by drinking plastic bottles of water and the need to conserve fresh water locally and internationally. To educate both youth and adults, Huber creates water-themed art installations and provides free environmental education at schools.

Next month, Huber will fly to Uganda, where she and her team members will bore a 70-meter hole to provide fresh drinking water to hundreds of residents in a small village there. Currently, children must walk over a mile to find a water source near the village, and the water isn’t clean or safe. Huber and her team members also are filming a documentary entitled Making Waves from Cleveland to Uganda that will be released at next year’s Cleveland International Film Festival.

For Huber, the project is about sharing the water wealth of the Great Lakes — which hold 20 percent of the world’s fresh water — with areas in dire need.

Huber, who describes her group as a “very nonprofit organization,” is still raising funds for the project. You can donate to the cause on the organization’s website.

Source: Erin Huber
Writer: Lee Chilcote


local coffee companies host latte art throwdown for guatemalan relief

Lee Chilcote Thursday, May 10, 2012
Next time that your favorite barista etches a flower in your foamy mug of latte, savor it for a moment before you take a sip. He or she may actually be practicing for For the Love of Latte Art, an educational event and latte art throwdown that is being hosted this weekend by Cleveland-area coffee companies.

The event, which is being hosted by a new coffee collective called CLE Brews, will include skill-building workshops for professional and amateur baristas who are interested in learning the craft of latte art. It concludes with a “Latte Art Throwdown” in which participants will be judged on their latte art. All proceeds of the event will benefit the Asobagri Co-op Disaster Relief Fund in Huehuetenango, Guatemala, an area that was devastated by intense rainfall last year.

“Our goal is to build unity, share ideas and really push the coffee culture in Cleveland,” says Nathan Lilly, a Manager and Trainer with Phoenix Coffee Company. “We’ve done events like this before, but never on this big of a scale. We’d like to make this an annual event showcasing coffee in Cleveland.”

CLE Brews is a collective comprised of Phoenix Coffee Company, Erie Island Coffee Company, Caruso’s Coffee and Red Cedar Coffee. The winner of the Latte Art Throwdown will receive a $4,000 espresso machine donated by Nuova Simonelli and entry into Coffee Fest Seattle’s Latte Art Competition.

Competition should be fierce: Lilly says the local coffee scene has talented baristas who can sketch swans, clovers, rabbits and even tulips into a steaming cup of latte.

The event takes place this Saturday, May 12th at Cuyahoga Community College’s Hospitality Management Center at Public Square in downtown Cleveland.

Source: Nathan Lilly
Writer: Lee Chilcote


weapons of mass creation fest helps make cleveland a creative powerhouse

Lee Chilcote Thursday, May 10, 2012
Weapons of Mass Creation Fest, an annual gathering of Cleveland creative types now in its third year, is returning like a blockbuster summer sequel to the Gordon Square Arts District from June 8 through 10. Organizers expect over 1,000 attendees to register, adding to the weekend excitement already taking place in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood.

The conference, which will feature 20 speakers, 20 designers, and 30 bands on two different stages near W. 54th and Detroit, coincides with Gordon Square Arts District Day, a neighborhood-wide celebration on Saturday, June 9.

“One of my goals was to make Cleveland a destination, to make it a creative powerhouse,” says Jeff Finley of Go Media, creator of WMC Fest. “When people think of creative places in the U.S., I want them to think of Cleveland.”

WMC Fest is helping to achieve that goal by fostering connections among Cleveland’s creative community and bringing in speakers and attendees from outside the region. “Some of the speakers from last year are coming back, and that speaks volumes about the attraction we’re building here,” Finley says.

This year’s WMC Fest will incorporate Saigon Plaza as a kind of headquarters for the event, allowing for even more music and a more compact event experience. Finley hopes to expose attendees to the Gordon Square Arts District, which he says is a prime example of a neighborhood that nurtures creativity.

Tickets to the WMC Fest cost only $60, thanks to company sponsorships and fundraising by Go Media, making it one of the most affordable events in town.

Source: Jeff Finley
Writer: Lee Chilcote


young nonprofit professionals network seeks to mentor next generation leaders

Lee Chilcote Thursday, May 03, 2012
Northeast Ohio has a resourceful nonprofit sector, yet it is in danger of losing some of its youngest, brightest new leaders because of low pay and heavy workloads.

This was the determination of a survey of nonprofit leaders conducted two years ago by the Cleveland chapter of the Young Nonprofit Professional Network (YNPN). The mission of this all-volunteer organization is to “connect and cultivate leaders in the nonprofit community by engaging young professionals, supporting career development, and offering networking opportunities.”

To counter this trend, YNPN launched a new mentoring program last year that is geared towards matching young leaders with experienced nonprofit professionals. Last fall, 30 up-and-coming young nonprofit professionals received sound advice and a sounding board from veteran leaders within the industry.

Now, YNPN is gearing up to launch the second round of its mentoring program. It is seeking additional mentors so that it doesn’t have to turn any young leaders away. Last year, the group was unable to find mentors for a dozen applicants.

“We need more people to step up to the plate,” says Kari Mirkin, President of the YNPN. She notes that mentoring is a challenge at many nonprofits because they lack the resources and knowledge to develop a strong mentoring program. “The requirements are pretty reasonable — we just ask that mentors meet with mentees for one hour during four of the six months of the program.”

The YNPN is hosting an open house for prospective mentors on Wednesday, May 9th from 5:30-7 pm at the offices of the Junior League of Greater Cleveland. The deadline for submitting an application to become a mentor is May 14th.

Source: Kari Mirkin
Writer: Lee Chilcote


150 cleveland families to receive urban gardens, tools and advice

Lee Chilcote Thursday, May 03, 2012
Urban gardens can be adventurous affairs, not unlike archeological digs in terms of how they turn up trash and pieces of the past just beneath the surface of the soil. If this isn’t your thing, there’s always raised beds. But they take time, labor and materials to build.

Thanks to a recently unveiled partnership, 150 families in the Buckeye, Larchmere and Woodland Hills neighborhoods will receive GardenSoxx, which are mesh sleeves stuffed with organic soil that can be used on any surface. This above-ground system, which is considered ideal for urban gardening, can easily be planted with seeds. The partnership will ensure that families receive the proper training and education on how to grow a thriving garden in an urban setting.

“GardenSoxx gardens are low maintenance and are installed in a matter of minutes, which make it a great way for our neighbors to learn how to garden and give them access to fresh food,” Vedette Gavin said in a news release. Gavin is a Community Health Fellow with the Saint Luke’s Foundation who is helping to lead the Healthy Eating, Active Living initiative in the area. “We expect these 150 gardens to provide 1,000 pounds of food for families this year.”

Tools and hands-on support will be provided in order to teach families how to garden, including compost bins, rain barrels, watering cans, freezing kits and workshops from community partners like the Cleveland Botanical Garden.

Leaders of the initiative have even created a “Green Line” — a hotline that allows families to call experienced gardeners with questions. Families can water their gardens affordably using rain barrels, and compost bins will be provided to create new soil. Volunteers on the project will also receive one free Gardensoxx sleeve.

“Gardening was really lost for a generation,” says Gavin. “Now we have families that moved up here after Katrina talking to local families. We’re creating connections in the community, and people are sharing advice.”

The backyard garden initiative has been made possible by support from Saint Luke’s Foundation, Neighborhood Progress Inc., Third Federal Savings and Loan, Neo Restoration Alliance, Cleveland Botanical Garden, Healthy Eating & Active Living, Cleveland Food Bank and Benedictine High School.

Source: Vedette Gavin
Writer: Lee Chilcote


bike month will be a wild ride with over 50 cleveland events

Lee Chilcote Thursday, May 03, 2012
May is National Bike Month, but locally the party kicked off last week at Respect the Bike, an all-Ohio-made bike showcase held at the Greenhouse Tavern. Before the event, hundreds of riders cruised through downtown for a traffic-stopping Critical Mass ride, then lined up their bikes along E. 4th Street for a rooftop bar celebration. Elsewhere in the Tavern, diners feted on chef Sawyer’s creations as historic bikes hung in the air like flying machines.

It was a fitting start to a month packed with over 50 bike-centric events, including art shows, bike repair clinics, Towpath pajama rides, neighborhood bike rides and the region-wide Bike to Work Day.

Bike Month also includes two special events that benefit good causes. For the first time ever, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is opening its grounds to bicycles during Wild Ride at the Zoo, a new after-hours event. Bike for the Beck is a new fundraising ride for the Beck Center in Lakewood on May 19th.

The City Club is also hosting an event with Mark Gorton, Founder and Chairman of Open Plans, entitled Rethinking the Auto: Building Cities for People, Not Cars. The forum takes place on Wednesday, May 9th, and Bike Cleveland is hosting a free social afterwards at Market Garden Brewery in Ohio City.

Finally, there perhaps is no better way to kick off Bike Month than with the announcement of an exciting new project. This week, Fast Track Cycling broke ground on the Cleveland Velodrome, a massive, 166-meter outdoor cycling track in Slavic Village. The bike track will initially be a seasonal facility, but organizers hope to eventually raise enough money to enclose it for the winter months.

Source: Bike Cleveland
Writer: Lee Chilcote


drinks for do gooders to host event benefitting youth sailing camp

Lee Chilcote Thursday, May 03, 2012
For a teenager, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime to spend a week sailing on a 150-foot tall ship — tying ropes, keeping watch and sleeping in hammocks while learning to work together as a close-knit team.

Through Project YESS — Youth Empowered to Succeed through Sailing — a handful of lucky teenagers are offered this rare opportunity each summer in Cleveland.

The program, which is organized by the Rotary Club of Cleveland, began in 2010 during the Tall Ships Festival. It has continued thanks to the dedication of a small group of volunteers who have raised funds for the project, which costs at least $1,500 per student. The group spends months identifying students with leadership skills who would not be able to afford such an experience.

On Friday, May 11th, Drinks for Do Gooders will host a benefit for Project YESS. Tickets cost $20 and include a drink ticket and appetizers. There will also be a separate raffle to win two free round-trip tickets from Southwest Airlines.

“Navigation is our theme, and it’s not just about navigating on a ship,” says Eileen Smotzer, a Rotary Club member who has helped to spearhead the YESS program. “Hopefully that message transcends to navigating through life and community. These students are the future leaders of our country and region.”

Source: Eileen Smotzer
Writer: Lee Chilcote


respect the bike showcases ohio’s rich history of two-wheeled inventiveness

Lee Chilcote Thursday, April 26, 2012
Travis Peebles, who co-owns Blazing Saddle Cycle, displays a Roadmaster bicycle that was made about 80 years ago by the Cleveland Welding Company, located at W. 117th and Berea Road. The rusted, 40-pound bike is not for sale, yet it adorns the shop as a proud reminder of cycling’s rich local history.

It is perhaps a little known fact that both Cleveland and Ohio have a rich history in the annals of bike history (those crazy Wright brothers started it all with a Dayton bike shop, after all). Our region’s tradition of making bicycles is intertwined with our manufacturing history. That deep tradition will be on display this Friday, April 27th at the Greenhouse Tavern during “Respect the Bike: Ohio Built with Ohio Pride,” an exhibition of historic and contemporary Ohio bike builders.

“Cleveland and Ohio were huge springboards for cycling,” says Peebles. “From the 1890s through the 1900s, there were tons of bikes that were made in Cleveland.”

Respect the Bike will feature a wide range of bicycles from pre-1900 bikes made in Northeast Ohio to contemporary bikes built by local, entrepreneurial frame builders such as Rust Belt Welding, Carmen Gambino and Dan Polito.

Peebles, who admits to being “borderline obsessed” with hunting for old bicycles and makes a living restoring ’70s and ’80s era steel bikes, partnered with the Greenhouse Tavern because of its commitment to local foods and cycling.

Respect the Bike is also billed as a kick-off to Cleveland Bike Month, which takes place in May. Attendees are encouraged to ride their bikes to the event and participate in the monthly Critical Mass ride at Public Square beforehand.

Source: Travis Peebles
Writer: Lee Chilcote


it’s everybody’s job to help teenagers grow up, says tedxcle speaker

Lee Chilcote Thursday, April 26, 2012
Take a deep breath, says Lisa Damour of the Center for Research on Girls at Laurel School. Remember that parents are just people who have kids.

Once you acknowledge your own imperfections — something that your teenager will likely be happy to assist you with — it gets easier to see that your kids are struggling to define themselves in light of you.

However painful teenage rebellion might be for parents, it has historically contributed to innovation, says Damour. “I’m pretty sure it was a cave teenager who first discovered fire,” she joked with a capacity crowd at the recent TEDxCLE event at the Cleveland Museum of Art, where she was a featured speaker.

Because teenagers typically reject advice that is offered by parents and respond poorly to judgment, it is important to show teens that we care about what happens to them and to help them identify positive mentors outside of their parents.

“We need less handwringing, more understanding,” said Damour, a psychologist and an expert on adolescent development. “We need to surround them with good teachers and mentors. The fewer people that complain about teenagers and the more that see it as everyone’s job to help them grow up, the better off we’ll be.”

Source: Lisa Damour
Writer: Lee Chilcote


as registration begins, gay games offers chance to sell cleveland to the world

Lee Chilcote Thursday, April 26, 2012
Registration for the 2014 Gay Games (GG9) begins in May. This represents an opportunity to sell Northeast Ohio as a welcoming, inclusive region to a global audience, says GG9 Director Tom Nobbe.

“Cleveland represents a blank slate to many people in Western Europe and Asia, and that’s both a challenge and an advantage,” he says. “We have a compelling story to tell. We can position our region as not only welcoming to outsiders, but also as inclusive.”

The Gay Games is a global sports and culture event that is coming to Cleveland and Akron August 9 through 16, 2014. It is one of the largest multi-sport festivals in the world that is open to all — regardless of skill level, age (as long as you’re 18 or over), sexual orientation or physical challenge. The weeklong festival is expected to draw more than 10,000 participants, along with an estimated 20,000 additional visitors, spectators, performers and volunteers.

GG9 has recruited more than 100 active volunteers to serve on nine committees that will promote the event. Local creative agencies such as Brokaw, Aztek and Consolidated Graphics Group are providing pro bono marketing services.

Nobbe wants to enlist Clevelanders to help promote the games and welcome participants while they’re here. “This is going to change the region,” he says. “Participants are going to spend money on hotels and restaurants.”

“This is an opportunity to say, ‘We’ve got a vibrant LGBT community,'” he adds. “We may not have Boystown, Chelsea or Castro, but that’s because we’re comfortable going to any community in Northeast Ohio.”

Source: Tom Nobbe
Writer: Lee Chilcote


national volunteer week rallies 1,300 people in support of 85-plus local projects

Lee Chilcote Thursday, April 26, 2012
Last week, PNC Bank employees spent time reading “Where the Wild Things Are” to kids enrolled in Head Start, Cleveland Clinic employees shared tips on preparing for the workforce with students at New Tech West, and human resources pros helped people in transitional housing to prepare their resumes.

The events were organized by Business Volunteers Unlimited as part of National Volunteer Week, which rallied more than 1,300 volunteers to participate in 85-plus service projects throughout Northeast Ohio.

“Ordinary Day, Extraordinary Outcomes” (ODEO), a one day event held on Friday, April 20th, engaged 28 corporate teams in combating poverty through education. Two companies, OE Connection and Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts, hosted a week of volunteer opportunities for all of their employees. Finally, Global Youth Service Day, which engaged young people in volunteering across Greater Cleveland, took place from April 20 to 22.

“We really tried to develop interactive experiences that would engage the community,” says Roseanne Deucher, Director of the Volunteer Center at Business Volunteers Unlimited. “This year, we had a focus on education. We also tried to match the skills of folks in the business sector with needs in the community.”

She adds, “A lot of people read about issues in the public school system and unemployment, but they don’t know how to get involved. After this event, they felt they’d touched lives. Many wanted to volunteer on an ongoing basis.”

BVU maintains an online Volunteer Center which lists more than 500 volunteer opportunities throughout Northeast Ohio. The nonprofit group is also currently partnering with the Cleveland Indians to host a Volunteer Challenge. Any individual who completes four hours or more of volunteer work through BVU is eligible for a voucher for two free tickets to select Indians games.

BVU is also hosting its annual Summer of Service day, which seeks to engage young professionals in volunteer activities, on July 18th of this year.

Source: Roseanne Deucher
Writer: Lee Chilcote


cleveland museum of art generates $140m in economic impact

Lee Chilcote Thursday, April 19, 2012
Clevelanders have always known that the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) brings a tremendous amount of economic activity and out-of-town prestige to Northeast Ohio. Yet thanks to an in-depth study by economic and business consulting firm Kleinhenz and Associates, we now have the numbers to prove it.

According to a study released this week, CMA generates more than $140 million annually in economic activity in Cuyahoga County and creates or sustains over 1,200 jobs. Additionally, CMA’s renovation and expansion project has generated $593 million in activity and created or sustained an average of 500 jobs per year.

To CMA Director David Franklin, that level of activity signals not only that the museum is an economic powerhouse, but also that given today’s “creativity-driven economy,” it generates returns well beyond traditional expectations.

“The Cleveland Museum of Art is a magnet for business and talent attraction,” Franklin said at a press conference this week. “It upends the traditional story of the division between business and the arts. We are a true ‘house of muses’ as well as a cylinder for Ohio’s economic engine — not one or the other, but both.”

Chris Warren of the City of Cleveland and Tom Waltermire of Team NEO both testified to the fact that the museum has vast intangible effects on Northeast Ohio’s economy, as well. It acts as a prestige-driver for the region and serves as a calling card as they travel the world to attract new business, they said.

Helen Forbes-Fields, a CMA Trustee, stated that she had participated in the museum’s Diversity Construction Committee and that CMA has been “a University Circle leader in hiring and contracts for construction jobs,” with 22 percent filled by minority workers and 10 percent filled by female workers.

Tom Schorgl, President of the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture, touted the impact of the Cuyahoga County arts tax, which must be renewed in 2015. “CMA is a splendid example of a public-private partnership,” he said.

Source: David Franklin, Chris Warren, Tom Waltermire, Helen Forbes-Fields, Tom Schorgl
Writer: Lee Chilcote


greater cleveland urban film festival debuts at shaker square

Lee Chilcote Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival (GCUFF) debuts this weekend at Shaker Square Cinemas. The new festival aims to showcase African-American and African films from Cleveland and around the world, introduce film to young people, and educate young people about career options in the industry.

“We want our audience to see that there are great films by black people, and also that Cleveland has produced a bevy of talent. There will be films shown here that don’t get shown elsewhere,” says Neal Hodges, an actor and writer who lives in the Shaker Square neighborhood and serves as the festival’s Artistic Director. “We’ll also be hosting a panel discussion to encourage young people to get into the film industry, and we’ll discuss how to get your project onto the big screen.”

Hodges first came up with the idea of creating a black film festival in Cleveland after visiting similar festivals in other cities. He created the Black Cinema Cafe in 2000 to showcase black independent films in various venues around Cleveland. Hodges says the GUCFF is a grassroots effort organized primarily by seven hardworking volunteers. The events is sponsored by the Society for Urban Professionals (SOUP), an African-American young professionals group.

Hodges says the festival is here to stay and will become a mainstay event in Cleveland’s cultural landscape. He hopes to attract a diverse audience.

Source: Neal Hodges

‘my neighborhood’ effort aims to create unity in warehouse district

Lee Chilcote Thursday, April 19, 2012
Like many Warehouse District residents, Trampas Ferguson was dismayed when his neighborhood earned negative media attention for safety incidents and rowdy late night behavior on W. 6th Street.

Ferguson bought a unit in the Water Street Condominiums building last year, and he views his downtown neighborhood as a place where he’d like to get to know his neighbors and put down roots, not just a place to party (though there’s that, too).

So along with Warehouse District resident Samantha Gale and other volunteers, Ferguson created a program called My Neighborhood to combat real and perceived safety problems in the area. In partnership with the Historic Warehouse District Development Corporation, they organized quarterly meetings, developed a marketing program to promote local businesses, organized My Neighborhood happy hours and put together civic initiatives such as street cleanups.

“It’s a grassroots movement to create unity in a mixed-use neighborhood,” he says. “We wanted to help people get to know their neighbors and build community.”

Two years later, the group has made a difference in the quality of life, he says. Fears that the Warehouse District would “become the same as the Flats” have mostly been allayed and the group’s monthly happy hours are well attended. These events are the foundation for stronger relationships among residents.

“People say, ‘Holy cow, I didn’t even know you lived in my building,'” says Ferguson, who adds that one of the Warehouse District’s hidden demographic groups are empty nesters who seek out the entertainment and restaurant options.

“Things are better than they were a couple of years ago,” mostly due to the Memorandum of Understanding that many business and property owners signed stipulating that they must have off-duty police officers and other measures. “There will always be younger nightlife but it doesn’t have to feel unsafe.”

Source: Trampas Ferguson
Writer: Lee Chilcote


pro-choice advocates go ‘balls out’ to raise money for access fund

Lee Chilcote Thursday, April 19, 2012
In today’s political climate, in which the mere mention of pro-choice support ignites controversy, choice advocates have some big balls. They’ll be using them at the third annual Bowl-a-Thon for Abortion Access, a nationwide series of events to raise money to help low-income women and girls afford abortion care.

“This is a way to engage younger activists and people who don’t have a lot of money but want to help,” says Kim Lauren Pereira, Development and Communications Associate with Preterm, an independent abortion clinic in Cleveland. “Legal and safe doesn’t mean a whole lot if you can’t afford it. The funds raised go directly to women and girls who can’t afford abortion procedures.”

The event takes place on Thursday, April 26th beginning at 6:30 pm at Mahalls 20 Lanes on Madison Avenue in Lakewood. Although bowling teams — which boast cheeky names like Roe All the Way, the Gutter Girlz and Lady Parts — are already set, supporters can still donate to the cause. Anyone can come out to the event to cheer on their favorite teams and support affordable abortion care.

“By involving the community, we’re also fighting abortion stigma,” said Laura Hauser, Board President of Preterm and a reputedly fierce bowler, in a news release. “We support women and trust them to choose for themselves, and doing so is about accepting and embracing the idea that abortion is a safe, legal procedure that’s part of comprehensive health care for women.”

Source: Kim Lauren Pereira, Laura Hauser
Writer: Lee Chilcote


95-year-old cleveland artist updates historic diversity mural for tedxcle

Lee Chilcote Thursday, April 12, 2012
Mort Epstein, a distinguished 95-year-old Cleveland artist and designer who founded Epstein Design in 1962 and has a lengthy history of social activism, will present a talk entitled “A Designer and the Community” at this year’s TEDxCLE event. In keeping with the event, whose theme is “The Maker Class,” Epstein has updated an iconic mural he completed for Cleveland State University in the mid 1970s.

The original artwork, which featured six black and white electrical outlets beside one another, celebrated CSU’s commitment to diversity. The new design by Epstein features nine red and black outlets set against a sleek, black background, as if inviting viewers to plug into the opportunities before them. The term “The Maker Class” also hails Cleveland’s past and present as a hub for creativity and ingenuity.

TEDxCLE founder and organizer Hallie Bram Kogelschatz says that she commissioned the design to celebrate Cleveland’s little-known history as a place of distinctive, high-quality public art, the role of artists and designers in making cities better places to live, and Cleveland as a place that sparks opportunity.

“We wanted to pay homage to Mort as a designer and take this iconic artwork and update it. The city is an outlet and you just need to plug in to make it happen.”

Source: Hallie Bram Kogelschatz
Writer: Lee Chilcote


saving cities documentary aims to tell true story of a rising rust belt

Lee Chilcote Thursday, April 12, 2012
A year ago, Jack Storey launched an ambitious project to create a documentary about the Rust Belt with no money, no filmmaking experience and no camera.

But he did have Kickstarter.

Today, Storey and his partners have raised over $20,000 through the popular arts-focused fundraising website. They have crisscrossed the Rust Belt region while garnering more than 100 hours of footage of entrepreneurs and civic-minded individuals. Saving Cities, the grassroots “idea bank” that Storey helped found in 2010, plans to release the documentary, entitled Red, White and Blueprints, early next year.

“We’re stubborn and we love it here, but we don’t defend ourselves very well to the outside, and the perspective of national media tends to be lopsided,” explains Storey, who recently participated in a panel discussion of Cleveland artists funded through Kickstarter. “Our goal is to have a very positive piece of media that tells the story of the Rust Belt from boom to decline, and also talks about the future and entrepreneurs who are doing creative things with very few resources.”

Red, White and Blueprints will highlight the connections between small, hyperlocal efforts taking place in various Rust Belt cities to paint a coherent picture of a diverse, interconnected region. It will also suggest that Rust Belt cities could do a significantly better job sharing successes between various metropolitan areas, and in turn, furthering these connections for mutual benefit.

“All of these cities used to be connected by railroads,” says Storey. “We’re talking about the Rust Belt as a mega-region. We can digitally reconnect these cities in conversation.”

Saving Cities has launched another Kickstarter campaign to fund the final leg of the documentary, including editing and duplication. Storey hopes to begin sending the film to festivals and organize a series of community screenings next year.

Now that the project is nearing fruition, Storey has a better understanding of why he needed to do it. “Maybe for good reason, we’re the only people to do this. We were crazy enough to get in a car and drive around the region several times. In hindsight, I’m glad we did it, but it was a huge undertaking.”

Source: Jack Storey
Writer: Lee Chilcote


‘voice your choice’ project helps students articulate musical choices

Lee Chilcote Thursday, April 12, 2012
Pop music is notoriously ephemeral. In fact, many of the hottest chart toppers from recent years already have faded into the dusty annals of stardom.

Yet, get into a conversation with the average 15-year-old and he or she will happily rave about their favorite artists. Still, while these young people may have strong feelings about which artists truly matter and have staying power, can they support their claims using a strong argument backed by analysis?

That’s exactly what a new project launched this year by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum asks students to do. “Voice Your Choice,” a national project that invites students to create their own inductee class, aims to help teach students to make aesthetic judgments and learn history through music.

“We try to teach kids in the 7th-12th grades how to articulate their own aesthetic standards,” says Lauren Onkey, Vice President for Education and Public Programs at the Rock Hall. “That’s really hard to do, because a lot of the time when we’re talking about music we love, we just love it. But why? This project is about developing our own criteria and describing them in detail.”

The project garnered video and essay submissions from 25 schools around the country, as well as one in Canada and Australia. This week, as a flurry of Induction Week activities happen in Cleveland, the Rock Hall will host a group of educators for a teacher development workshop focused around “Voice Your Choice.”

“One of the things that teachers struggle with are content standards in different disciplinary subjects,” says Onkey, who adds that the Rock Hall’s on site educational programs reach 20,000 students each year and thousands more through distance learning offerings and curricula it shares with teachers. “They tell us this is a really great teaching tool for getting at those standards.”

Voice Your Choice is also a great tool for reaching students in their own milieu. “An artist from the 1950s might as well be from the 1850s for many young people. Yet if music is presented in the right way, they’ll embrace it from all over the map.”

Source: Lauren Onkey
Writer: Lee Chilcote


artisan jewelry maker participates in burgeoning slow gold movement

Lee Chilcote Thursday, April 12, 2012
Todd Pownell of TAP Studios in the St. Clair Superior neighborhood has always purchased recycled gold. He fashions the raw material into unique wedding rings for Cleveland couples, or helps people to make their own through his unique, do-it-yourself workshop.

Yet as the price of gold has risen from $300 per ounce five years ago to more than $1,600 per ounce today, Pownell has also observed an increase in exploitative mining operations in various corners of the globe. At the same time, there has been a steady uptick in general consumer awareness of supply chain issues, and a rising interest in where our gold comes from.

These two factors provide a unique opportunity for jewelers to highlight where their materials come from and educate consumers about sustainable sources, says Pownell. He is a member of Ethical Metalsmiths and involved in the “slow gold” movement, named after the sustainability-focused slow food movement.

This past summer, Pownell participated in a unique videography project. He traveled to South Dakota with another jeweler and a couple from New York City to try to mine enough gold for a pair of wedding rings. In the end, the weeklong trip yielded only about a dollar’s worth of gold. It also shed light on the resource-intensive process of mining, exposing problems in the global supply chain.

Fellow jeweler Gabriel Craig documented the trip on a series of videos he posted on Vimeo, and participants spread word of their trip through social media websites and blogs. An article about the trip entitled “The Real Cost of Gold” also appeared in the March issue of American Craft Council magazine.

“As consumers, we need to be a little more aware of supply chain issues,” says Pownell. “There’s been a groundswell of change with the buy local movement, and with that, people are paying more attention to where products come from. Craftsmen are at the forefront of trying to look at supply chain issues.”

Source: Todd Pownell
Writer: Lee Chilcote


ohio city launches next round of successful small business grant competition

Lee Chilcote Thursday, April 05, 2012
Having birthed 25-plus new businesses within the past few years, Ohio City is on a roll. Leaders here hope to continue that progress this year as they launch the second round of the Small Business Development Grant Competition, an initiative that aided at least five new retail businesses in 2011.

The competition, which is being managed by Ohio City Inc. and funded by Charter One Growing Communities, offers grants of $5,000 to $20,000 to retail businesses that open or expand in the Market District along W. 25th or Lorain. Entrepreneurs can use the funds for rent payments of no more than one year, purchase of equipment for business operations or interior build out.

Community leaders are focusing solely on retail ventures this year, having overseen a boom of new restaurants and small boutique shops in 2011.

“The Charter One Growing Communities initiative has catalyzed tremendous growth in the Market District,” said Eric Wobser, Director of Ohio City Inc., in a release. “We are very excited to launch year two of the competition.”

Applicants can download the RFP from OCI’s website and submit it along with a short essay and business plan. They’d better hurry, though — according to Wobser, there are only five vacant storefronts remaining in the Market District.

Community leaders are also hoping that the Market District’s considerable momentum will spill over onto Lorain Ave. Within the past two years, the down-on-its-heels main street that has begun to flicker with new life. OCI has created a community planning effort, Launch Lorain, to chart its future.

Source: Eric Wobser
Writer: Lee Chilcote


pnc aims to reduce waste exiting downtown building to ‘near zero’

Lee Chilcote Thursday, April 05, 2012
This is the kind of downsizing we can all cheer about. PNC has launched an effort to reduce the amount of waste coming out of its downtown Cleveland office building to “near zero,” becoming one of the first downtown buildings to achieve this ambitious goal.

The employee-led effort is reducing the amount of trash going to landfills to 40 percent of the total waste coming out of the building. The remaining 60 percent is being recycled or composted. PNC is not stopping at this laudable goal, and has made a commitment to reduce its waste by 90 percent, hopefully by this summer.

“We wanted PNC’s offices to be among the first near-zero buildings in downtown,” says Paul Clark, Regional Vice President for PNC Bank. “This is a local application of the sincerity of PNC’s commitment to green building.”

To achieve its goal, PNC designated an employee “green ambassador” on every floor of its downtown building. The company also removed common area trash cans, replacing them with quart-sized containers at employee desks. A partnership with Brooklyn-based Rosby’s Resource Recycling allows PNC to recycle organic materials, which are composted into mulch for gardens.

“The change in my life only took about two minutes, and I also get a little exercise on my way to compost bin,” quips Clark. “The other side of change is fabulous.”

Benson Gabler, Manager of Corporate Sustainability for PNC, adds that Cleveland’s near zero program takes the company’s sustainability efforts to a new level that he hopes to widely replicate. “We’d already been looking at waste reduction in all PNC buildings, yet Cleveland has composting on every floor, and that’s new. This is something we’d like to roll out at other locations.”

Click here to check out a Youtube video about PNC going green in Cleveland.

Source: Paul Clark, Benson Gabler
Writer: Lee Chilcote


cleveland 2030 district aims to reduce downtown buildings’ carbon footprint

Lee Chilcote Thursday, April 05, 2012
Energy efficiency is no longer simply an option for tenants seeking office space downtown, says Donald Rerko of ka Architecture Inc., one of Cleveland’s leading sustainability-minded architecture firms. Instead, it’s often a critical “go/no go” decision-making factor that can make or break a deal.

“Tenants want sustainable buildings, and they’ll often take the building off their list if it’s not energy-efficient,” he says. “It’s really at the top of their criteria.”

Rerko is Chairman of the Cleveland 2030 District, an effort to make downtown office buildings carbon neutral by the year 2030. The group emerged out of the first Sustainable Cleveland 2019 conference and has aligned itself with Architecture 2030, a national group with similar goals. Rerko says the group has targeted 75 million square feet of downtown office space, and has gained soft commitments from 25 percent of owners to make their buildings green.

“Retrofitting a building saves the owner on utility costs, reduces tenants’ overall costs and makes the building more competitive,” says Rerko. “There are a lot of different funding programs now, such as performance contracting and government programs, that allow owners to retrofit without any money out of pocket.”

Comprehensive building retrofits typically include sealing the envelope to reduce energy consumption as much as possible, examining energy usage to find ways to reduce it, automating systems, and investing in renewable energy sources.

As examples of successful retrofits, Mohr cites Cleveland State University, Cuyahoga Community College and Forest City Enterprises, which has made substantial energy-efficiency improvements to the Tower City complex.

Next steps for the Cleveland 2030 District group include obtaining signed letters from owners representing their commitments and raising funds to hire an Executive Director and Program Manager. The group is also holding a kickoff party on May 10th at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. It will feature keynote speaker Edward Mazria, architect and founder of Architecture 2030.

Source: Donald Rerko
Writer: Lee Chilcote


county’s next-gen council aims to stem brain drain by giving young people a voice

Lee Chilcote Thursday, April 05, 2012
Every time a young person leaves Northeast Ohio for another part of the country, Greater Cleveland loses 120 percent of their salary in actual economic value, says Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald.

That’s why he recently created the Next Generation Council, a group that is intended to stem brain drain by giving young people a voice in helping the county attract and retain young talent in the region.

Recently, FitzGerald selected 15 council members from a diverse pool of 125 applicants between the ages of 20 and 35. The group began meeting last month and is working to develop a strategic plan.

“The Next Generation Council will provide an opportunity for my administration to get input from young professionals on how the county can develop the right conditions to engage the creative class,” said FitzGerald in a news release. “We are lucky to have such a diverse group to begin this important initiative.”

“I joined the NGC because I admired Ed FitzGerald’s willingness to take a very visible step to engage the region’s emerging leaders,” says council member Hermione Malone, who works at University Hospitals and lives in Detroit Shoreway. “I knew this would allow me to meet a new cadre of smart, creative, passionate, networked peers.”

She adds, “My aim is to help identify or establish pathways to boost the engagement of young professionals in the public sector, ensuring our voices are consistently represented at the highest level.”

Each member of the council serves two years. The group is part of a broader effort by FitzGerald to make Cuyahoga County “a more inclusive and competitive region.”

Source: Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald
Writer: Lee Chilcote


new website to plug education gap about complex new health care law

Lee Chilcote Thursday, March 29, 2012
Just as the U.S. Supreme Court this week heard arguments about the constitutionality of the federal Affordable Care Act, several Northeast Ohio foundations have banded together to provide nonpartisan, consumer-friendly information to help citizens navigate this complex new law.

The public education effort takes place as liberal and conservative groups across the country launch a fight not only over the constitutionality of the law, but also over how it’s perceived by the general public. While the Obama campaign and other Democratic groups are trying to demonstrate how the law is already improving people’s lives, Republican groups, on the other hand, are trying to cast the law as a job-killing, top-down mandate.

For Kim St. John-Stevenson of the Saint Luke’s Foundation, ensuring that ordinary citizens have the information they need to navigate this complex law — which will affect their lives, whether they know it yet or not — is by far the most important objective.

“There’s a huge education gap, and we need to be proactive about plugging that gap,” says St. John-Stevenson. “Whether you like the legislation or not, right now it’s the law of the land, and it’s in everybody’s best interests to understand it.”

The new website, www.affordablecareactneo.org, was launched by the George Gund Foundation, Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation and Saint Luke’s Foundation. Modeled after a similar effort in Cincinnati, it provides information about costs, private insurance, Medicare, mental health coverage, coverage for kids and more.

The website is available in English and Spanish, and there is also a wallet card that can be printed out. The foundations will be working over the coming months to spread the word about the website through their nonprofit partnerships.

Source: Kim St. John-Stevenson
Writer: Lee Chilcote


COSE wellness program helps small biz owners stay healthy and be more productive

Lee Chilcote Thursday, March 29, 2012
Small business owners are often the very first to turn the lights on in the morning and the last to leave at night. So when an owner doesn’t show up for work until midmorning, that’s typically something his or her employees take notice of right away. They may gossip and joke that the boss is out playing hooky.

“They’ll look around and wonder where the boss is,” says Ginny Hridel, Product Manager of Health Insurance and Wellness Programs with the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE). “Taking an hour and a half a week is not something owners are used to.”

Yet, dedicating such time to health and wellness is what’s expected of participants in Wellness Tracks, a COSE program that’s geared towards helping Cleveland’s small business owners become healthier. Throughout the 12-week program, owners learn how to integrate nutrition and wellness into their lives. The result, says Hridel, impacts not only the owners’ fitness levels but also their companies’ bottom line.

“Think about the sustainability of small businesses,” she says. “If the owner gets sick, there’s a big impact on the business. If they’re able to stay healthy, they can focus on the business and be more productive. There are so many wellness programs for big companies, but it’s harder to achieve for small businesses.”

To that end, COSE set up its program to make it easy and affordable for small business owners to participate. The program requires a manageable chunk of time and is free for anyone covered by COSE’s Medical Mutual plan. Owners not covered by that plan can still attend Wellness Tracks for a small fee.

“There are so many individual success stories,” says Hridel. “This is not just about pounds lost but about the business owner making a personal transformation.”

In the past two years, Wellness Tracks has graduated more than 300 individuals. The next program kicks off April 19th and classes start the week of April 23rd.

Source: Ginny Hridel
Writer: Lee Chilcote


founders of tech startup organize event to benefit ‘kids against hunger’

Lee Chilcote Thursday, March 29, 2012
The founders of a Cleveland technology startup company have joined together with the Cleveland chapter of Kids Against Hunger to present “Celebrating Sustainability and Entrepreneurship,” an event that is promoting sustainable social enterprises. All proceeds will go towards providing nutritious meals to local families in need.

“The Cleveland chapter of Kids Against Hunger was founded by a Case Western Reserve University freshman named Aditya Rengaswamy,” says Michael Giammo with Lorktech, a company that was founded by CWRU graduates. Lorktech is developing an electronic shelf label that does not require a battery for use in stores. “We’re very excited about sustainability and entrepreneurship, so we said, ‘Why not use the energy of our startup company to spark this charity event?'”

The event takes place on Monday, April 2nd at Thwing Ballroom on the CWRU campus. Each ticket costs $40 and purchases 200 meals for kids, Giammo says.

Speakers include Jenita McGowan, Chief of Sustainability for the City of Cleveland; Cathy Belk, Chief Relationship Officer at Jumpstart; Ian Charnas, Operations Manager at think[box]; Stephanie Corbett, Sustainability Manager at CWRU; and representatives of Lorktech and Kids Against Hunger.

“We wanted to create a company-wide culture of social entrepreneurship,” says Giammo of Lorktech’s decision to spearhead the event. “It’s part of our business model.”

Source: Michael Giammo
Writer: Lee Chilcote


new collaboration strengthens voice for ohio sexual assault survivors

Lee Chilcote Thursday, March 29, 2012
For years, staff at the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center (CRCC) have watched as rape crisis programs throughout the state have either closed or downsized. The combination of a poor economy and lack of dedicated funding have put many of these programs out of existence — and left sexual assault victims in less populated counties without services.

A new partnership between the CRCC and the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence (OAESV) hopes to change that by serving as a voice for services in Ohio. The two groups recently signed a support and services agreement to work together on building a statewide voice for sexual assault survivors.

“What we realized in working with our sister organizations across the state is that many counties are unequipped to handle the problem of sexual assault, and it’s difficult to organize for more resources without a unified voice,” says Megan O’Bryan, Executive Director of the CRCC. “Our goal is to bring rape crisis organizations around the state together to work on policy advocacy.”

In addition to sharing information and programming ideas across its statewide network, the OAESV is working to create a pool of statewide funding for rape crisis programs. About half of the states in the U.S. have such dedicated funding, but Ohio does not. The Ohio Rape Crisis Fund bill, or H.B. 48, would increase court costs for both felony and misdemeanor cases involving a sexually oriented offense, and deposit fees into a Rape Crisis Program Trust Fund administered by the Office of the Attorney General. The group is also working at the federal level to advocate for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

Since the creation of the OAESV several years ago, the group has received a growing number of calls from sexual assault survivors throughout the state. O’Bryan says that this is a sign that the organization is not only doing important work, but also that more survivors feel comfortable telling their stories.

“The more we talk about this issue, the more people come forward. We need more programs that support survivors and make the environment safer for others.”

Source: Megan O’Bryan
Writer: Lee Chilcote


celebrate dyngus day, the polish version of mardi gras

Lee Chilcote Thursday, March 22, 2012
On the heels of St. Patty’s Day, which gives cause for merriment whether you’re Irish for one day or your entire life, comes Dyngus Day. And Justin Gorski, aka “DJ Kishka,” invites you to dig deep to find your ethnic roots and celebrate Cleveland’s Polish heritage in style.

“I’m Polish, and I always had pride in that,” says Gorski, who created the Polka Happy Hour at the Happy Dog seven years ago. “My grandmother made pierogi and potato pancakes. It’s great to be able to celebrate the ethnicity of Cleveland.”

Gorski was inspired to create a Dyngus Day celebration in Cleveland after he traveled to Buffalo two years ago to perform. Dyngus Day festivities there attract more than 60,000 people each year. The event is a traditional pagan holiday that began as a celebration of the rites of spring, but was co-opted by a Polish Catholic king many eons ago. Today, it is widely celebrated as the Polish version of Mardi Gras, and always takes place on the Monday after Easter.

Last year’s event attracted 1,500 people, and DJ Kishka is hoping for 5,000 at this year’s celebration. Bars and restaurants in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood have banded together to promote the event. Organizers are planning an Accordion March along W. 58th Street, the traditional crowning of Ms. Dyngus (kind of a polka-themed talent show), live music and an appearance by Big Chuck.

Gorski says Cleveland’s strong Polish community will keep Dyngus Day growing, and it will help attract visitors to the revitalized Gordon Square Arts District.

Dyngus Day will take place on Monday, April 9th. The crowning of Ms. Dyngus will take place at 5 p.m., with the Accordion March immediately following.

Source: Justin Gorski
Writer: Lee Chilcote

For Good

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jd breast cancer foundation helps women get back on their feet

Lee Chilcote Thursday, March 22, 2012
J.T. Aguila is Executive Director of the J.D. Breast Cancer Foundation, an organization founded to honor Jacqueline Dobransky, a 33-year-old woman who died of breast cancer in 1997. The foundation’s mission is to provide financial assistance, emotional support and education to enhance survivorship.

Aguila knows something about surviving cancer. His wife, Nina Messina, was afflicted by three kinds of cancer in five years, and during that time, Aguila and his family benefited from many acts of kindness from friends. Today, she has been cancer-free for seven years. “Every day, she is a reminder of why I do this,” Aguila reflects.

Recently, the J.D. Breast Cancer Foundation gave away $35,000 to 80 women suffering from financial hardship. Although grant amounts are small, ranging from $450 to $1,500, Aguila says the impact they make on women’s lives is huge.

“The grants really do help these individuals get over the hump,” he says. “We’re providing emergency financial assistance to make sure they’re not being evicted, getting their utilities cut off in the dead of winter, or unable to put food on the table. When I talk to them, I can hear relief on the other side of the phone.”

In addition to grantmaking, the Foundation also hosts a Young Survivors Symposium and an annual Pink Carpet Gala. The latter event honors 10 breast cancer survivors from across Northeast Ohio, giving them the opportunity to get dressed up and walk the pink carpet while their friends take pictures.

Currently, Aguila is busy planning the Foundation’s annual Extreme Golf Event, as well as support groups in partnership with the Gathering Place. If you’d like to get involved, he is seeking volunteers, donations and individuals in need of assistance.

Source: J.T. Aguila
Writer: Lee Chilcote


kickstarter comes to town to show artists how to land diy funding

Lee Chilcote Thursday, March 22, 2012
Since the financial crowdsourcing website Kickstarter was founded a few years ago by New York entrepreneurs, it has helped to raise millions of dollars for artistic projects, including many in Cleveland.

Just how important is Kickstarter for arts funding? A recent New York Times article reported that the organization expects to raise $150 million in contributions in 2012. By comparison, the National Endowment for the Arts has a budget of $146 million.

Next week, Kickstarter is coming to Cleveland as part of a Midwest tour to showcase how artists can land DIY funding for their creative-minded startups. The Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC) and the Foundation Center of Cleveland partnered to create the event, which takes place on Thursday, March 29th from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Idea Center’s Miller Classroom at 1375 Euclid Avenue.

“Kickstarter is important not only because it helps artists raise funding, but also because it leverages their ability to get the word out,” says Susan DePasquale, Program Manager with CPAC. “There aren’t many opportunities for artists to be funded directly. Kickstarter also allows givers to feel like entrepreneurs.”

Source: Susan DePasquale
Writer: Lee Chilcote


pnc breaks ground on new community resource center in fairfax neighborhood

Lee Chilcote Thursday, March 22, 2012
A new community resource center being created by PNC Financial Services will better connect the Fairfax neighborhood’s residents and small businesses to economic opportunities in Northeast Ohio. It will also celebrate the rich history and legacy of a neighborhood that was once home to Langston Hughes and houses Karamu Theatre.

PNC recently broke ground on PNC Fairfax Connection, a new facility that is being built on the site of a former dry cleaner at E. 83rd St. and Carnegie Avenue. The 6,400-square-foot facility was designed by Richard Fleischman and ESI Design. PNC officials hope to celebrate a grand opening here in the fall.

“Our CEO said, ‘I want you to create something that redefines the relationship between a bank and a community,’ so we did,” says Paul Clark, PNC Regional Vice President. “Fairfax stood out because of the pride of the community, its proximity to University Circle and the Cleveland Clinic, and the strength of its leadership.”

PNC Fairfax Connection will offer access to technology and training, resources to connect residents to jobs, and intergenerational, youth and early childhood programming. It will also help celebrate the cultural legacy of Fairfax.

As examples of possible outcomes, Clark cites a goal of increasing the number of local residents hired by major employers, helping small businesses to connect with each other and to large entities such as the Cleveland Clinic, and youth programs that help aspiring filmmakers to produce state-of-the-art movies.

The facility is being built on the site of the former Swift Dry Cleaner, and will remediate a dilapidated building and brownfield along Carnegie Ave. It is being created in partnership with the Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation. Clark says the distinctive, glassy architecture will “set a high bar.”

Source: Paul Clark
Writer: Lee Chilcote


foundation center cleveland launches mobile version of grant-seeking site

Lee Chilcote Thursday, March 15, 2012
The Foundation Center launched Grant Space to aggregate its most popular content in one easy-to-navigate location and be responsive to its audience. The website features video chats with grant makers and a calendar of trainings. It also allows visitors to quickly interact with Foundation Center staff.

Now the Center has launched Grant Space Mobile, a new version geared towards mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets. Foundation Center Cleveland Director Cynthia Bailie says the website, which she developed and is now being used across the country, is one more way the Foundation Center is innovating to serve its customer base. The site is helping grant seekers to become more savvy about using technology to do good in their communities, she says.

“The world has increasingly gone to mobile devices, and we wanted to give our audience what they need in a user-friendly way,” says Bailie.

Despite the at-your-fingertips information that is now available online, visits to the Foundation Center Cleveland, which is located in the Hanna Building at PlayhouseSquare, have not declined. Bailie believes that this is because the Center’s online presence and physical location actually complement each other.

“We decided to put everything online and offer high-touch in-person services; we’ve found it has increased our visibility and people still come in,” she says.

Making technology more accessible to grant seekers helps them to access funding more easily, identify new sources, strategize ideas and solicit a national and even international audience of grant makers, Bailie says. Recently, the Foundation Center Cleveland hosted a “Good Gone Mobile” networking and information night. The event highlighted two mobile trends, giving and advocacy, and allowed attendees to network with each other and learn from others in the field.

“There’s a greater appetite for experimentation with new technologies. We’ve created a gateway that allows people to quickly tap in and get what they need.”

Source: Cynthia Bailie
Writer: Lee Chilcote


‘green your st. patty’s day’ event urges local food advocates to support fair farm bill

Lee Chilcote Thursday, March 15, 2012
It’s the “Year of Local Food” in Cleveland, say the organizers of Sustainable Cleveland 2019. It’s also the year that Congress is set to reauthorize the farm bill, the largest piece of food and farm legislation that determines how food reaches our plate.

These two events may seem disconnected, but they really are not, says Tia Lebherz, an organizer with Food and Water Watch, whose job is to energize the Cleveland Fair Farm Bill Campaign. In fact, the bill plays a big role in whether or not small local farmers, including urban farmers, can survive and thrive.

This Saturday, local urban farmers and advocates of a better, healthier farm bill are linking the two issues together with an event that they’re calling “Green Your St. Patty’s Day.” Food and Water Watch, Green Triangle, City Rising Farm and Blaine Community Garden organizers are rallying locavores to volunteer on a farm in Hough and participate in a day of action urging their Congressional leaders to support a fair farm bill using letters, phone calls, art projects and petitions.

“Every day, more and more power is shifted to Monsanto and other large corporations, undercutting small farmers so they can’t compete,” says Lebherz. “We want to see sustainably produced, local food, and one way to do that is to support competition provisions ensuring a level playing field for small farmers.”

Lebherz says that Saturday’s event will show that Cleveland residents are engaged in their local food system and want to see change. Federal reauthorization of the farm bill only comes up every four to five years, she says, making the Year of Local Food a golden opportunity to organize around this issue in Northeast Ohio.

The “Green Your St. Patty’s Day” event takes place this Saturday, March 17 from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at City Rising Farm, 8814 Blaine Avenue in Cleveland.

Source: Tia Lebherz
Writer: Lee Chilcote


eden inc. partners with community on sustainability projects

Lee Chilcote Thursday, March 15, 2012
Throughout its 20 year history, Eden Inc., a nonprofit developer of affordable housing, has “flown under the radar,” says David Fearn, Manager of Grants Development and Community Relations. If so, then one might say that Eden’s recently launched sustainability efforts constitute a coming out party — one to which all of its neighbors are invited.

Eden has always been a community-minded agency; its housing developments serve low-income and often mentally ill Cleveland residents, providing them with supportive housing and wrap-around services that help them to become more self-sufficient and better integrate with society.

In the past, Eden’s low profile was largely due to the fact that affordable housing can be subject to the kind of reactionary NIMBY-ism (Not In My Backyard) that also pushes Cleveland’s most vulnerable residents to the margins of society. Neighbors may oppose affordable housing because they are afraid of negative community impacts, yet such fears are typically unfounded, says Fearn.

To bridge the wide gap between Eden’s low-income residents and their neighbors, the nonprofit is launching a series of sustainability efforts that have community benefits, says Fearn. Within the next few months, Eden will create a large-scale community garden at its Liberty Building at E. 105th Street and St. Clair Avenue, and a new development along Madison Avenue will probably receive rain cisterns. Eden is also integrating gardening and sustainability into other properties it owns.

“The benefits of these sustainability projects are that they engage the community around us, provide fresh produce and beautify the area,” says Fearn. “We plan to source as much labor as possible from the neighborhood or city residents.”

Such innovative sustainability efforts dovetail with Eden’s existing focus on green building. All of Eden’s projects now meet Enterprise Green Communities standards and often incorporate repurposed materials, as well.

Source: David Fearn
Writer: Lee Chilcote


signstage brings hearing and deaf communities together through school-based theatre

Lee Chilcote Thursday, March 15, 2012
When actor Bill Morgan travels into Cleveland schools to create artistic productions that star both hearing and deaf actors, he continues to be amazed by students’ reactions and the type of creativity that is often unleashed through nonverbal communication.

Morgan can hear, yet the productions that he creates through SignStage Theatre help to educate hearing individuals on the issues faced by the deaf community. They also bring hearing and deaf students together through entertainment.

“We ask kids to use their physical actions rather than just their voices, and they really start to use their imaginations more,” says Morgan. “We have hearing students interacting more with deaf students, whereas normally they’re not. That opens kids up to what deaf kids can do, while also empowering deaf students.”

SignStage is a program of the Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center (CHSC), a nonprofit originally founded in 1921 to provide lip reading classes for adults who are deaf and hard of hearing. In the past 91 years, the CHSC has grown to serve nearly 8,000 adults and children each year in 14 counties in Northeast Ohio.

Morgan is particularly excited about an upcoming residency through the Ohio Arts Council at a Cincinnati area school. There he will have a chance to create programs at an innovative school that integrates deaf and hearing children using the arts. “Such programs are becoming more acceptable,” he says. “I’ve also found that there is now a better understanding of the needs of the deaf community.”

SignStage helps hearing students to overcome prejudice, says Morgan, and to realize deaf people are not handicapped. Deaf people can be found in professions ranging from medicine (including doctors) to manufacturing (they’re sometimes hired to work around noisy machines that hearing people can’t tolerate).

Source: Bill Morgan
Writer: Lee Chilcote


cleveland colectivo hears 27 ideas at ‘pitch for change’ event

Lee Chilcote Thursday, March 08, 2012
The Cleveland Colectivo, a grassroots giving circle whose members provide grants to innovative, community-minded ideas, attracted 27 entrepreneurs and a crowd of nearly 100 people to its recent “Pitch for Change” event at Shaker Launchhouse.

Following the spirited two-minute presentations — which grew more creative as the night wore on — attendees voted on their favorite projects. The winner, Have You Met Cleveland?, took home the coveted door prize — over $400 in cash.

Each presentation was met with rousing applause from the enthusiastic crowd, and attendees spent time after the pitches networking and creating new connections.

The next step in the Colectivo’s selection process is for its members to interview the top 11 vote-getters. Details will soon be announced on the Colectivo website.

Here is a sampling of the top projects of the night:

Have You Met Cleveland? is a grassroots initiative that will use the tools of appreciative inquiry to engage young people in the community.

Improv-ing Cleveland is a small concert series that would present top musical acts in vacant storefronts in Slavic Village.

The Cleveland Hostel is a soon-to-be-completed contemporary hostel on West 25th Street, just south of Lorain Avenue.

Music in the Park is a project to organize crowd-pleasing concerts in Edgewater Park this summer.

Lakewood Alive Revolving Loan Paint Program aims to create a fund to help low-income Lakewood residents repaint their homes.

Source: Cleveland Colectivo
Writer: Lee Chilcote


gallagher school partners with detroit shoreway neighbors to improve test scores

Lee Chilcote Thursday, March 08, 2012
Joseph M. Gallagher School, a diverse K-8 school in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood on Cleveland’s west side, has formed an innovative community partnership in an effort to boost scores on the all-important Ohio Achievement Assessment (OAA) this spring. The international school is currently in Academic Emergency, yet hopes to make a crucial leap forward by improving this year’s test results.

The much-needed community support couldn’t come at a more critical time, says Gallagher’s Principal, Jennifer Rhone. Test scores here have been slowly improving for several years. Last year, the school came heartbreakingly close to moving up a notch, from Academic Emergency to Academic Watch — it earned a Performance Index score of 69.1 when a minimum score of 70 was needed.

This year, Rhone says staff are striving for an ambitious Performance Index score of 78 so Gallagher can “jump over Academic Watch and land in Academic Improvement. Our goal is to move every child forward academically.”

The community partnership was created after Rhone reached out to the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO). The Franklin and West Clinton Block Clubs recently met with staff here to develop plans for volunteering. Activities will likely include tutoring students, monitoring the test taking process and reading test questions aloud to special needs students.

Joseph M. Gallagher is considered one of the most diverse schools in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD). The school has a sizeable population of Hispanic students, but many other nationalities are also represented in the facility. Two weeks ago, in fact, the school received an influx of 25 Nepalese refugee families. Because no one at Gallagher speaks Hindi, staff here are still trying to figure out the best way to engage the children in the learning process.

If Gallagher remains in Academic Emergency due to its test scores, it is possible that the school will have to be reconfigured, resulting in a new Principal and possibly new staff. Rhone says this change would erode the vital progress that students and faculty are making, so she is partnering with the community in an effort to help students and show them that the community cares about them.

So far this year, Gallagher students have read more than 8,000 books. They also read silently for 25 minutes per day, among the highest averages in the district.

Source: Jennifer Rhone
Writer: Lee Chilcote

Photo: Thomas Ondrey/The Plain Dealer

clevelander report aims to spur grassroots policy change in region

Lee Chilcote Thursday, March 01, 2012
Major corporations have long conducted sophisticated research to figure out what kind of consumer you are. Now, a new initiative that is being launched by two young city residents aims to find out what kind of Clevelander you are — and use the results to engage citizens and drive policy change in the region.

By surveying residents’ attitudes towards living in Northeast Ohio, as well as our preferences for urban amenities, the creators of the Clevelander Report hope to place useful information in the hands of policymakers shaping our region’s future.

“For all of the studies that have been done on our city, very few of them focus on citizens,” explains Hallie Bram, a Detroit Shoreway resident who co-founded the Cleveland Report with Eric Kogelschatz. “Our goal is to create the most comprehensive study of Clevelanders that’s ever been completed. We want to use that information to bridge the gap between organizations, government and citizens, and help our policymakers to make informed decisions.”

The Clevelander Report surveys residents on such topics as whether or not they are natives, boomerangs, expatriates or have relocated from another city; where they currently live; which cultural institutions and businesses they have visited; their level of interest in urban living; and their attitudes towards the city.

Bram says that the survey has been well-received so far, garnering over 500 responses since it launched one week ago. She and Kogelschatz plan to continue the Clevelander Report through the summer, and then compile an Executive Summary that can be provided to residents as well as policy makers.

Bram and Kogelschatz are the founders of TEDxCLE, a popular annual event that features curated talks by some of Northeast Ohio’s biggest thinkers. This year’s event will take place at the Cleveland Museum of Art on Friday, April 20th.

Take the survey here.

Source: Hallie Bram
Writer: Lee Chilcote


cuyahoga county public library launches new programming geared to writers

Lee Chilcote Thursday, March 01, 2012
Cuyahoga County Public Library has launched a series of programs to serve Northeast Ohio’s literary community, including workshops on fiction writing and classes aimed at teenage authors. The programs fill a vacuum created last year by the demise of The Lit, a nonprofit that was dedicated to Cleveland’s literary community for more than 30 years.

“This is something that we’ve wanted to do for some time.” says Robert Rua, Assistant Marketing Director with the Cuyahoga County Public Library. “One of our priorities is to help people reconnect with reading, and many folks who are readers are also writers. We’re pleased to be able to serve the literary community in a more meaningful way, and we’re looking forward to doing even more.”

The Cuyahoga County Public Library also continues to support its robust series of author visits, which Rua says have thrived in an era in which there are fewer book stores. Recent visitors include Isobel Wilkerson and Joe Hill. In the next month, “Hollows” author Kim Harrison and local sports legend Joe Tate will also give readings.

“We have some large venues, and we’re able to support author events with marketing,” says Rua. “We work with Mac’s Backs to do book sales.”

In the coming months, Rua says that plans are being made to broaden the Library’s offerings for writers, but specific details are not yet available.

Source: Robert Rua
Writer: Lee Chilcote


medical supplies nonprofit medwish in running for $100k prize

Lee Chilcote Thursday, March 01, 2012
Entrepreneurial ventures are often launched out of garages, spare bedrooms and basements. Yet MedWish International, a nonprofit organization that repurposes medical supplies discarded by the healthcare industry for humanitarian aid to developing countries, is probably one of the few that has ever been launched out of a suitcase.

When Cleveland doctor Lee Ponsky visited Nigeria in 1991 and saw the vast level of healthcare need that exists there, he wanted to help in some way. He found a way to do that by carrying suitcases full of medical supplies to Nigeria that would otherwise end up in the landfill. He convinced his friends to do the same.

Ponsky’s efforts were the beginning of MedWish International, a nonprofit that now delivers more than 550 tons of medical supplies each year to 97 countries. It operates out of a 40,000-square-foot warehouse that is donated by the Cleveland Clinic. While most of MedWish’s supplies are sent in 40-foot shipping containers these days, some are still carried the old-fashioned way — in suitcases.

“Dr. Ponsky saw the need in Nigeria as well as the waste going into our landfills and thought, ‘There must be a way to bridge the gap between our surplus and their scarcity,'” explains Matthew Fieldman, Director of Development for MedWish International. “So he created an organization that is saving the environment in Northeast Ohio as well as helping an international cause.”

MedWish was recently selected as one of five organizations competing for $100,000 in the Toshiba Tech Makeover challenge. Vote by clicking here.

Source: Matthew Fieldman
Writer: Lee Chilcote


cleveland carbon fund seeking to fund projects up to $10,000

Lee Chilcote Thursday, March 01, 2012
When asked if she has a dream project she’d like to fund, Cleveland Carbon Fund Fellow Joanne Neuberger rattles off the top of her list. “I’d love to see a project that capitalizes on the ‘Year of Local Food’ and helps ramp up Cleveland’s local food system while reducing our carbon footprint,” she says.

These are the kinds of big ideas which organizers of the Fund hope to spur through their grant making, which supports carbon reduction projects with community benefits. The Carbon Fund recently announced that is it seeking applications for projects up to $10,000. The deadline is March 16th.

The Cleveland Carbon Fund was created in 2009 by the City of Cleveland, Green City Blue Lake Institute at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Gund Foundation, Cleveland Foundation and Cleveland Clinic. Its goal, as Neuberger puts it, is to “think globally, green locally.” While there are plenty of other carbon funds, ours is the first community-based, open-access fund in the U.S.

The Carbon Fund has supported two past projects whose goal was to install 10,000 compact fluorescent light bulbs in the Slavic Village and Detroit Shoreway neighborhoods of Cleveland (organizers installed nearly 5,000 in the end).

As the Carbon Fund continues to grow, Neuberger says that its leaders will seek additional donations from individuals and businesses. She hopes it will become a popular way to reduce our region’s carbon footprint and support local initiatives.

Source: Joanne Neuberger
Writer: Lee Chilcote


rock the catwalk will highlight local fashion for a good cause

Lee Chilcote Thursday, February 23, 2012
Rock the Catwalk, a new fundraiser being introduced by the Women’s Leadership Council in support of United Way of Greater Cleveland, will highlight Cleveland’s trendiest local fashion boutiques.

Yet it will also put a face on the real human need that unfortunately exists among formerly homeless, unemployed women in our region. The event will highlight the nonprofit agencies that help these women dress for success while also engaging the female clients themselves as runway models.

“Rock the Catwalk will feature all local boutiques and models, including Sandy Pianalto from the Federal Reserve Bank and Erin Kennedy, the new co-anchor of WKYC’s morning show,” says Jenna Snyder, Marketing Director for United Way. “It will also feature two clients from Transitional Housing Inc., a United Way member organization that helps women transferring out of homelessness.”

Local boutiques which are participating in the first-ever Rock the Catwalk event include Amy’s Shoes, Anne van H., Cindy Halle, Dredgers Union, Evie Lou, Girl Next Door, Kilgore Trout, Marta Glazen and Saks Fifth Avenue. The event takes place on Thurs., March 29th at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

The Women’s Leadership Council inspires, educates and engages women to become actively involved in supporting United Way of Greater Cleveland.

Tickets start at $75 and include hors d’ouevres, cocktails and museum access.

Source: Jenna Snyder
Writer: Lee Chilcote


higher ed compact brings community together to help students succeed

Lee Chilcote Thursday, February 23, 2012
Nearly 60 percent of newly-created jobs require a postsecondary degree, yet only six percent of Cleveland residents hold an associate’s degree and just eight percent hold a bachelor’s degree.

This stark statistic is one of the driving forces behind the fledgling Higher Education Compact of Greater Cleveland, an unprecedented collaboration among 15 colleges and universities, 25 nonprofit organizations, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and Cuyahoga County. This new effort seeks to boost the number of college graduates in Northeast Ohio.

“Every day, there are 3,000 jobs that the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and Summa Health Center can’t fill,” explains Lee Friedman, CEO of College Now Greater Cleveland, a member organization of the Compact. “If you can’t increase educational attainment, then you can’t fill jobs. At some point, if these organizations can’t find talent, then they can’t grow.”

While this lofty goal is hardly unusual or unique, what makes the Compact stand out is its regional approach towards addressing the higher education gap. Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson is increasingly touting the benefits of addressing such problems on a regional level. Cuyahoga County has not historically been involved in education, yet Executive Ed Fitzgerald has joined the Compact. The Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education (NOCHE) has also been working with the region’s colleges and universities as part of the Northeast Ohio Talent Dividend to seek a comprehensive solution to this problem.

“It truly takes a village to help students get to school and graduate from school,” says Friedman. “Many of the young people we’re helping are first generation college students who don’t have anyone to help them get on that path. The commitment of these university presidents is truly best in class.”

The goal of the Higher Education Compact is to ensure that students are ready for, have access to and graduate from college. To achieve this goal, leaders will create student-focused action plans, educate the community on why college is important, help students become college ready, link them with scholarship and financial aid opportunities and create a College Success Dashboard that measures results.

Source: Higher Education Compact of Greater Cleveland, Lee Friedman
Writer: Lee Chilcote

healthy eating, active living take root in neighborhoods thanks to saint luke’s

Lee Chilcote Thursday, February 16, 2012
Vedette Gavin knows how difficult it can be for any new initiative to take root in an older neighborhood. So, instead of pushing her “Healthy Eating and Active Living” program onto residents of the Buckeye and Shaker Square-Larchmere neighborhoods, she has planted seeds in resident leaders who are growing it from the ground up.

“Place impacts choice and choice impacts health,” says Gavin, a Community Health Fellow with the Saint Luke’s Foundation, a three-year placement that focuses on community initiatives that support healthy lifestyles. “What I do is help people to wrap their arms around these ideas and make change.”

The Healthy Eating and Active Living program is conducted in partnership with the Case Center for Reducing Health Disparities at MetroHealth. Residents, stakeholders and community groups are represented on an Advisory Board.

So far, Gavin has partnered with a local salon and barbershop to introduce “Shop Talk,” a series of informal, drop-in conversations about healthy lifestyles; introduced a community gardening program that offers residents simple, low-maintenance ways to grow fresh produce; and organized fun community exercise programs that include line dancing and the ever-popular Zumba.

Gavin, who has a Master’s in Public Health and an evident passion for helping to make low-income, urban neighborhoods healthier places to live, says her goal is to ensure that the program lives well beyond her three-year tenure. “We’re taking healthy eating and active living and weaving it into the neighborhood.”

Source: Vedette Gavin
Writer: Lee Chilcote


public square group to open office, indoor skate park in midtown

Lee Chilcote Thursday, February 16, 2012
Public Square Group, a nonprofit organization that promotes skateboarding and skate parks as tools for redeveloping urban neighborhoods, engaging youth in positive activities and promoting active lifestyles, is opening an office and indoor skatepark in the MidTown neighborhood of Cleveland.

The new office and skatepark, which has been dubbed “Skate Kitchen,” will be located in the historic Cadillac Building at E. 30th and Chester, adjacent to Jakprints. Skate Kitchen will be open 24/7 for higher-level donors, as well as for special events, contests and lessons.

“We wanted to move our offices into Cleveland because so many of our projects and members are in the city,” says Vince Frantz, Executive Director of Public Square Group. “For our higher-level donors, instead of a mug or a sticker, they’ll get a key to the Skate Kitchen. After the kids are in bed, they can come down and skate for a few hours.”

The move will allow the Public Square Group to further expand its portfolio of projects in Northeast Ohio, says Frantz. He estimates that there are 10,000 active skateboarders across the region. The City of Cleveland is already ahead of the curve in embracing skateboarding as a tool for urban development, he says, citing as examples the skateboard parks planned in the Flats and Slavic Village.

Public Square Group also will continue to run the Skate Kitchen Truck, which pops up in various Cleveland neighborhoods offering mobile skate spots and demos.

Source: Vince Frantz
Writer: Lee Chilcote


new website helps urban parents find best school options where they live

Lee Chilcote Thursday, February 09, 2012
The nonprofit organization LiveCleveland has launched a website which provides urban parents with comprehensive school information for the areas in which they live. Our Neighborhood Schools allows parents to search by community and zip code to determine the best educational opportunities available to them across the spectrum of public, private and parochial schools.

“We wanted to battle head-on the perception that there are a lack of school choices in the City of Cleveland,” says Jeff Kipp, Executive Director of LiveCleveland. “Our Neighborhood Schools is a searchable database and resource for parents that highlights high-performing schools in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District as well as charter school and private school options.”

The new website was made possible through a partnership with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) and grant funding from the Cleveland Foundation. LiveCleveland shares with CMSD a marketing and web design staff person who works to increase enrollment in the city’s public schools.

“CMSD basically had no marketing strategy previously, and was losing hundreds of kids each year to charter schools who were doing a more proactive job,” says Kipp. “Now the district is trying to market its own strong schools to parents.”

The website, which attracts about 500 unique visitors per month, is a “win-win” for LiveCleveland, CMSD and the city’s neighborhoods and schools, Kipp adds.

Source: Jeff Kipp
Writer : Lee Chilcote

 

 

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