I wanted to start out with a few quotes of the people that I am connected to:
Carole over at Cleveland Real Estate News wrote this to me: Robert it was the most amazing conference/summit i have ever been to. Bar none! I made so many good connections and had so many wonderful conversations surrounding how to improve the neighborhoods for both business and residents. OMG it was fabulous!
Jonathan Sin-Jin Satayathum wrote on FB: The ‘Sustainable Cleveland 2019′ summit was incredibly meaningful and cathartic to me personally-but also for our beloved City.
Chris Gammell wrote on his blog: I must say, I’m impressed.
And Joe Koncelik at Ohio Environmental Law Blog wrote: The Sustainable Cleveland 2019 summit was unlike any other conference or summit I had attended. I have been to plenty where the goal was simply to raise awareness- Typically a parade of talking heads followed up by urgent pleas to do something in the future.
I enjoyed the whole experience. If you have been to an E4S meeting, then it was similar to some of those meetings. If you haven’t, then you need to go. Holly Harlan has done more to promote a sustainable economy in this city than anyone I know. I was glad that she was recognized at the summit and received a standing ovation. It is true leadership like this that makes a difference. Over the three days, we were kept on topic, told to stay positive, learned to interact and asked to dream big. And we did! Some visions of the year 2019 were Utopian. I believe in dreaming big, but hunger and poverty may not be possible to eradicate in a decade-by I am willing to help give it a try. Some things that people worked on, though, were completely attainable. We can get a larger portion of our food from the local economy, creating new jobs and promoting local businesses. We can put a windfarm on the lake, increase recycling regionally, turn garbage into energy, and weatherize every home in the city.
The final day, we created prototypes for our ideas. Some were thought out, and ready to go. Our team developed a prototype for a year-round facility where materials could be diverted from landfill and turned into resources for the community. The plan includes job creation, promoting the arts and the local economy, and job and art training. When I sat down on day 3, we seemed to know what to do. We built a prototype. It came together. We thought, this is a great idea. It needs to be done. Let’s do it. I have heard of things like this happening. Great minds come together and a deal is struck, or an idea formulated, or a company formed…all over coffee or a lunch. The idea for this summit was to get the juices flowing, to help form public policy, to help figure out how to help fuel this economic engine with renewable resources. How can we get the advanced energy center going? How can we attract the people who assemble wind turbines into the city? Where can we find the capital to get these ideas rolling? Cheer leading and appreciation is not to be discounted, but words mean little without the action. I challenged everyone in the room to figure out how to continue this work, to take their ideas to the next step. Since moving here in 2000, there has always been a lot of talk, but a lot less action. If we want to make big changes, we need to roll up our sleeves and get to work. We need to stop asking the government to bail us out and create our own future. This city is behind us, but the city can’t do it all. Without the true efforts of the business community, then how can we recreate a vibrant economy? It is business that creates jobs, careers, opportunities. This event was about Cleveland’s Green Economy. Don’t get me wrong, the environmental crisis is real. But this summit was not about the feel-good, save the planet. It was about rethinking Cleveland and making a change that can have economic impact as well as an environmental one.
I had one great conversation about casinos with a fellow participant. He was knowledgeable and intelligent. He supports casinos as the beginnings of economic growth and believes that it could be one factor in helping to jump start our economy. I disagree. Furthermore, I wonder why we are even considering it. We know we need to tap into new technologies, green collar industries and renewables. What if all the money spent on lobbying, on campaigning, on signature gathering was spent on advancing a sustainable city, then the work would be half over already. Those who want to form casinos are not really looking for a way to help the city, or they would be pushing for something that doesn’t exploit our situation, but uses it as an opportunity for real and lasting change. I would say, sure we can have a casino in the city-IF it is owned by majority stakeholders who live in the city limits, IF a minimum job creation target is achieved, IF it is designed and built using local talent and businesses, IF it is green and sustainable. Now that is something that I can get behind.
Now that the rant is over, let me tell you a few other things that impressed me about this event.
The commitment. This was 3 full days. People took time away from their jobs, their families, even their homes to be here. They wanted to be a part of the solution.
Dedication: An event of this size does not occur spontaneously. It take huge efforts by staff, and Andrew Watterson and his team pulled it off with flying colors!
Leadership: The mayor and his staff were here every day. City Council members Cummings, Zone, and Sweeney were there (and possibly more).
Interest: There is a way to touch on many aspects of this issue and make a difference. Whether you want to work on local food, advanced energy, or waste, there is a place for you to contribute. So I challenge you-what will you do to create a vibrant local green economy?