A Quick Little Post, About Cleveland, Opinion, Uncategorized

Northeast Shores’ Membership Meeting; A Quick Little Post.

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The NE Shores Development Corp. Meeting at Euclid Beach.

I truly believe that to have a successful city, you must have strong neighborhoods.  One of the signs of this is to have a good network of local development corporations that work with the community.  The Collinwood area happens to have two of them; the one representing North Shore Collinwood being the Northeast Shores Development Corporation.  This has been around for decades and I remember stopping in their offices in the 90’s when they were actually housed in a building next to Euclid General Hospital. Board members, and executive directors, come and go but I’ve been a fairly loyal member.  However, Wednesday’s Quarterly Membership meeting was the first I’ve been to in a year.  Instead of at the Collinwood Rec Center, they decided to put it across the street at Euclid Beach Park.  That’s where I went a little before 6:00 to the pavilion to see what was going on.

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Mary Louise Daily speaks with Scott standing next to her.  New Executive Director Camille M. Maxwell sits to his left.

I knew some of the people already, such as Councilman Michael Polensek’s aide Mary Louise Daley, but the vast majority were new faces. Even the new Board president, a guy named Scott, I never met before.  However, I wound up staying there for over an hour and a half, and not just because of the hot dogs.  They just appointed a new Director and I got to chat with some of the staff for the first time in years.  None lives in the neighborhood.  However, one young lady did just buy a house in Old Brooklyn which at least is in the city.  As for the business development specialist, he lives in the same area of Cleveland Heights where my mother grew up.  As for the new director, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt.

Actually, a lot of positive things are still taking place here.  Work is still going on regarding the new Euclid Beach Pier.  As for the La Salle Theater on East 185th Street, they are in the process of getting more funding for the renovation project there.  Also, we’re going to get one of the big white Cleveland signs like the one that everyone has been taking photos with at Edgewater Park.  Considering the terrible events last month at Mr. Car, this meeting put things all back into perspective.  While my neighborhood is not one of those targeted in that new Cleveland State Univeristy study commissioned by Mayor Jackson for investment, it still on the cusp of becoming one happening place.  Chatting with some of the people there, I met a lady who moved here from Shaker.  She told me that a realtor told her that the area where she moved to was getting a lot of money coming in renovating those lakefront properties.  Also, like many of the other former Heights’ residents who moved into North Shore Collinwood over the past few decades, she loves the lower taxes from what she was formerly paying.

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I hope the Corporation starts renovating their new offices on East 185th St. soon so they can move back there.  I also will try to attend more meetings to see what is going on.

 

Photographs by James Valentino

 

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About Cleveland, My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

The Trump Flying Circus.

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Looking west on Prospect Avenue Tuesday at the Innerbelt ramp. The Terminal Tower in the distance.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, it’s almost over.  From Melania Trump’s recital Monday to Ted Cruz being booed off the stage at the Q last night, the parts that I forced myself to watch were a sight to behold.  I have to admit that the 2016 Republican National Convention is one heck of a show, and it sure has provided food for thought, and late night jokes.

For me personally, it hasn’t been too disruptive.  The traffic Monday and Tuesday mornings on the Shoreway were in fact better than the regular commute; even colleagues living on the West Side were surprised how easy it was heading to University Circle where we work.  However, as I got on the Innerbelt at Prospect Avenue at two in the afternoon Tuesday, I saw the cars heading South crawling like it was rush hour.  I didn’t have any interest or curiosity about heading downtown to see where all the action is; and not just because of the barracades. Instead, like many others I know, I headed east, as far as Erie Pennsylvania yesterday to be exact.  There, on a tour boat called the Lady Kate, I spent an hour and a half taking pictures, enjoying the ride, and forgetting what was going on one state away.

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A view of Lake Erie at Presque Isle State Park, Erie Pennsylvania.

There is a mixed message on how it will a benefit Northeast Ohio.  It’s a great thing to see, if we believe the local news, all the positive impressions that the delegates have of our area.  I saw on, like so many others watching the T.V. news,  footage of the California Delegation having fun at Cedar Point Amusement Park, and another on how restaurants and bars are doing good business around the Q.  On the other hand, someone at work told me she saw something about how many restaurant owners were disappointed.  Another interesting fact, on Saturday, a friend of mine told me over breakfast that a hotel in Lake County, booked in advance for the convention, only had a 20 percent occupancy so far. Perhaps the rest came in the next day but this wasn’t the only place out in Lake County that had at that point such vacancies.

It’s quite possible that the Democratic Convention next week in Philadelphia will be more disruptive.  Someone I know who is going as a delegate told me on the phone recently that since many feel that they have more a chance to have their voices, and causes, heard by the delegates heading to Phillie than the group now at the Q, they will make their presence loud and clear.  Admittedly, and with relief, those protesting now on Public Square in Cleveland haven’t been as disruptive (with the exception of trying to burn a flag) as so many of us feared.  It could have been a whole lot worse and Cleveland would be remembered for something other than having a good time at a three ring circus. Let’s cross our fingers, we still have a few hours to go.

 

Photographs taken by James Valentino

 

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About Cleveland, My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

Countdown to the RNC…

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One of the many reasons why things have slowed down on Mad Man On A Great Lake in regards to posts is that the guy doing all the writing has been very busy; and not just at the job that pays the bills.  While everyone is getting ready for the three-ring circus called the Republican National Convention downtown, I’ve been around town pitching for the other team.  From marching in the Fourth of July Parade in Chester Township to attending a fundraiser in Willoughby Hills for the Ohio Democratic Party (ODP), this writer has been busy; too busy to write that’s for sure.

Fourth of July, 2016, the Janet mobile.

Geauga County Democratic Club Chairwoman Janet Carson smiles behind the wheel at the Chesterland Fourth of July Parade

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U.S. Congressional candidate Michael Wager (center) poses with Geauga County Commissioner candidates Ron Wiech and Bonnie Cavanaugh .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In fact, that fundraiser Monday, and the one I went to at a Kiwanis Hall in Newbury Township this past Saturday, are part of a slew of invitations that dropped into my mailbox in this election year.  The thing on Saturday was rather important since this was the first big fundraiser that a Geauga Democrat, Bonnie Cavanaugh, had for her race to be a commissioner in Geauga County.  All this has been going on while the other side was working on how to throw their own big party in downtown Cleveland.

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A ODP organizer talks at the Cleveland Ward 8 Democratic Club Picnic.

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ODP Chairman David Pepper talks to some Lake County Democrats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No matter what political party they’re affiliated with, many local officials are betting on the RNC Convention bringing in the big bucks. In fact, at the ODP fundraiser, I overheard a Lake County Commissioner tell someone of his hopes of the delegates staying out there would do just that.  There will even be organized tours of Grand River Wine Country where delegates from Hawaii and Connecticut can visit Debonne, Grand River, and other wineries on the Lake County side of the appellation.  The Columbus Dispatch recently had an excellent piece about all this (and quotes former Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis to boot).  Despite all the brouhaha, the article was correct in citing the various problems Cleveland has that cannot be seen in the Q.  For example, only Detroit Michigan has lost more people than the Forest City and more than 30 percent of its’ residents live in poverty.  Those facts will remain as the news crews and delegates head for the airport and highways.

In a week, it will be all over.  Then, the local movers and shakers get to assess how much it was all worth doing.

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Looking West towards downtown Cleveland Wednesday.

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About Cleveland, Opinion, Uncategorized

The Midwestern Resilient Cities Summit

 

Cleveland State, April 20, 2016 The ballroom getting ready for the summit.

Getting ready for the big event.

The Midwestern Resilient Cities Summit was held Wednesday, April 20th 2016, at the Student Center at Cleveland State University.   Sponsored by the Center for American Progress, it attracted speakers and private citizens from not only the Cleveland area but Buffalo, New York, Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan, and even St. Paul, Minnesota, to name a few.   After introductory remarks by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, speakers including the Managing Director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Christy Goldfuss, HUD’s Midwestern Regional Administrator Antonio Riley, and Cleveland’s own Chief of Sustainability, Jenita McGowan, made their pitches on how cash strapped urban areas can meet the challenge of a changing climate.

When I first saw the email regarding this event, I thought it would be a rehash of the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Conference I went to more than six years ago.  However, looking at who would be the presenters, and, with a few vacation days from the job saved up, I decided it would be worthwhile to attend.  The audience had the array of policy wonks, community activists, civil servants and reporters (such as architecture critic Steven Litt) you usually see at such events.  However, there was none of the ‘Positively Global Partnership Cleveland’ crowd that usually takes up most of the tables at the City Club.

As in so many other policy conferences, the speakers were enthusiastic about the subject at hand.  Ms. Goldfuss firmly believes that strong and energetic individuals should be at the core of all these projects; these are the ones that have the most invested.  She also talked in-depth what the Federal government was doing to raise awareness on climate change resiliency matters.  This includes the White House Champions of Change, citing that 1,000 Americans so far were awarded this in the past 5 years.

There was also a panel featuring among others Cleveland’s Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, Matt Gray.  When I asked him in the Q/A period how the sub-prime mortgage crisis affected the city’s sustainability measures over the past few years, he didn’t really have an answer.  Instead, he went on and touted the city’s energy programs.

As for me, I participated in the engaging and empowering community members’ group discussion. The moderator, Jacquie Gillon, was from the Western Reserve Land Conservancy. A former East Cleveland Councilwoman, Ms. Gillon has been doing leadership development for 19 years. For her, the most surprising thing people learn is how much we have in common, “We minimize them a critical thinkers, how do we get inclusive?” she asked the group.  Communication, as always, seems to be a big issue in our group.  How can we get local residents, many of whom are renters, involved in these programs?  For example, one woman in our group raised the point that a city official sent to a meeting in her neighborhood at their request didn’t say anything.  “He was the wrong official,” a man who worked for the city of Ann Arbor replied.  Afterwards, I kept thinking I should have asked him why in his opinion the city didn’t send out the ‘right one”?

Another big question that was raised was how can we capture federal dollars. From HUD’s Lucy Miller’s view, her department doesn’t provide direct financing, only through Community Block Grants (CBGs) to municipalities. In Cleveland, CBGs are allocated on a Ward level. the Northeast Shores Development Corporation’s Ballot Box Project was used as an example of local use of Federal dollars. About $100,000 from HUD was involved and people voted on what projects the money could be spent on.

Antonio Riley picked up where Christy Goldfuss left off.  He cited a Harvard Study by Raj Chetty that showed the earlier children relocated the better odds they go to college and got out of the cycle of poverty.  Personally, I don’t see how relevant this was to Climate change.  After all, inner city families will not be moving to a Hudson Ohio subdivision anytime soon.  On the other hand encouraging people to move to so-called “opportunity neighborhoods” that doesn’t mean neglecting low-income neighborhoods either. $7 billion a year on all HUD budgeted housing and therefore the department fully supports resilient community measures.

Both Ms. Goldfuss and Mr. Riley referred in their speeches The President’s Climate Action Plan which has basically three points; the reduction of greenhouse gases, leading international efforts to prepare for Climate Change, and making cities more resilient. I downloaded a copy of it and, to be honest, this is one of those documents I wish I could have been working on.  While it offers a variety of chapters from deploying clean energy to mobilizing climate finance (and I did like the proposal to modernize the electric grid), I didn’t see one section specifically geared towards low-income urban areas.   As for the report, written by the Center’s staff, it naturally provides far more information than a summit can do.  Steven Litt even sites it in his own piece for the Cleveland Plain Dealer published a few days ago.

There was a field trip afterwards to the Kinsman neighborhood to see urban agricultural projects underway there.  I didn’t go however, by looking at the Kinsman Farm website, perhaps I should have.It would have been kind of interesting to see how the out-of-towners reacted to all this in an inner city neighborhood like the Kinsman area.  On the other hand, the largest urban farm in Cleveland is in Ohio City and other neighborhoods, such as Collinwood-Nottingham Village, are also taking urban gardening to the next level.   Perhaps, if there was a solar energy farm off of E. 79th and Kinsman or Wind Power turbines (like you see off of I-90 in Euclid, Ohio) off of Bessemer Road, I would never had hesitated.

The Summit was too general in some ways.  While I admire what is being done in Detroit and Toledo, I still wanted to learn more about how all this translates into real, and effective, programs that can help Cleveland; and community gardens are only one part of it.  For example, one of the recommendations that the report had been to expand access to distributed solar energy in low-income communities.  This not only would lower energy bills but also carbon pollution levels.  What someone should have done, and I admit I didn’t, was discuss with Matt Gray and Jenita McGowan an idea of getting Cleveland Public Power to create such a project in the city.  The city’s publicly owned Power Company; Cleveland Public Power currently purchases electricity from other sources and generates none of its own.  However, as their website shows, it is firmly committed to green power.  If small-scale farming can be done in Kinsman, why not some small scale wind farms or solar panels generating power?  It would have been interesting what their responses would have been.

While Mr. Gray is correct in saying the Sewer District is investing in green infrastructure.  On the other hand, the dollars spent on the $198 million Euclid Creek Storage Tunnel Project in North Shore Collinwood neighborhood of Cleveland, and the village of Bratenahl, probably has a far more impact on the water quality of that watershed, and the beaches at Villa Angela and Euclid Beach for that matter.  This three mile long storage tunnel is more of an immediate benefit for area residents than ‘green parking lot’ demonstrations can do.

One wonders how productive such conferences are in the long run.  After all, I saw a presentation of the Pittsburgh Urban Forest Master Plan at a similar conference in Youngstown over six years ago, so none of this was brand new.  Yet, it was an excellent summit which one hopes leads to more constructive things in the future.

 

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A Quick Little Post, Opinion, Uncategorized

As the Snow Flies: A Quick Little Post.

As winter returns briefly to Northeast Ohio, I found out today that an article of mine has been published this week in this month’s issue of The Collinwood Observer.  It is one of a series of community newspapers serving communities in the Cleveland area (for example there is The Euclid Observer for that city) and has developed a strong local following.

Actually, I began this as a post for this blog but, after talking with the Center for Advanced  Mental Health Practice’s Danielle Dronet, and a few others, I decided to submit it to the Observer last month.  Here is the link to their site.  I appreciate the fact that Investigating Holmes Avenue got published and hope that, in the future, that a few more articles will be published there.

Speaking of links, here is one to a new piece written by Cleveland Magazine regarding North Shore Collinwood, and the need for an ‘angel’ for East 185th Street.  I have only glanced at it so far but it seems like it will be a worthwhile read as the snow flies outside covering the spring flowers.

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A Quick Little Post, About Cleveland, Opinion, Uncategorized

Going Uptown

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Euclid Avenue looking West from East 117 Street.

Here are a few photographs taken today of the Cleveland Institute of Art in the Uptown District of University Circle today.  I went there to see the new documentary Ingrid Bergman-In Her Own Words at the Cleveland Cinematheque.  However, before that, I took a little walk to look at, not only some ugly new architecture, but the only place on Cleveland’s East Side where property values have rebounded significantly.

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It goes to show you what can be done if people are willing to spend money on a few blocks along Euclid Avenue; and that includes the expanded Cleveland Institute of Art facility.  I cannot believe that it is almost a year ago since they have moved their operations from the old East Boulevard facility.  Admittedly, the interiors of the new building are amazing (as is the Bauhaus inspired exterior) and it must be wonderful just going across the street to the Crop Kitchen, Dynomite Burgers Sushi, or further afield to the Barnes & Noble @ Case Western Reserve University on the other side of Euclid Avenue.

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Photographs by James Valentino.

 

 

 

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A Quick Little Post, Uncategorized

Shades of Spring: A Quick Little Post

With the national media fleeing NE Ohio it’s nice to go back to something that really matters; spring flowers are blooming in my garden.

Wade Park, February 21, 2016, snowdrops.

Snowdrops blooming at Wade Park, February 21, 2016.

Seriously, after two years of an arctic blast each Winter, it’s really nice to see at the end of February snowdrops beginning to bloom at Wade Lagoon across from Severance Hall.  Since then, spurts of May like weather have led to more signs of spring; from the witch hazel bushes blooming in front of the Cleveland Botanical Gardens to dwarf irises, crocuses, and now even daffodils blooming in my back yard.   Even the colder temperatures of this weekend can’t dampen the feeling that Winter is on its way out.

 

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Crocuses at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens

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Dwarf Irises in the garden.

 

As for this blog, things may be a tad low-key now but it will go on.  This year, Mad Man On A Great Lake has been looked at by a broader range of people.  For example, this year, there have been 30 views of this from Brazil which I find amazing (I wonder if it’s because of my review of the Second Machine Age?). There has been one post I was working on that has evolved to the point that I want to try to submit it to a local newspaper first and see if they publish it.  If they do, I will try to post a link to it here.  However, there is still plenty of time in 2016 to do more writing.

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Witch hazel in bloom at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens this week.

For all who have stumbled upon this blog, thank you very much for the continued interest and there will be more to come.

 

Photographs by James Valentino

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