Re-Imagine a more Sustainable Cleveland

January 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

The American Planning Association has an annual award that recognizes excellence in development projects round the country and world. The National Planning Award, this year, was awarded to Re-Imagine Cleveland, an innovative project from Cleveland, Ohio that won for the category of ‘Innovation in Sustaining Places’ one of fourteen such categories recognized by the association. The project, Re-Imagine Cleveland, was launched and adopted by the Cleveland City Planning Commission in 2008 and has been developing projects that are changing neighborhoods ever since.

With very clear goals Re-Imagine Cleveland sough to:

– advance a larger, comprehensive sustainability strategy for the city

– benefit low-income and underemployed residents

– create prosperity in the city

– help address climate change

With 56 different community run projects currently underway, and more on the way, the Re-Imagine Cleveland program has produced results that are hard to ignore. With projects ranging from community and market gardens, orchards, and native species planning to the countries first urban vineyard, Chateau Hough. Re-Imagine Cleveland is putting people to work, building communities, and changing the face of Cleveland.

With over 20,000 vacant lots in the city limits of Cleveland, the amount of work that still needs to be done is widely understood but the enormity of the project, however, is still impossible to grasp. The seeds of change are beginning to take root, thanks largely in part to the efforts of Re-Imagine Cleveland and its partners; The City of Cleveland, Neighborhood Progress Inc.,The Cleveland Land Lab, Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, and Kent State University.

Today, January 10th in Good Magazine an article questioning the sustainability of the urban gardening/ farming movement was published. In the wake of the Great Recession in cities like Cleveland and Detroit this movement has made a meteoric rise and as with every bubble, it has to pop at some point, right? The author, Sarah Parsons, suggests that this is movement has an all-together different feel than other weak-economy movements to patch up our economy such as the ‘Relief Gardens’ of FDR in the wake of the Great Depression or the WWII Victory Gardens, stating:

“This time around, urban gardens aren’t just creating jobs—they’re inspiring them. Some workers are tasked with making sure that urban farming becomes less hobo-chic and more here-to-stay.”

I think it is hard to deny that urban farming / gardening is a trendy topic these days, hell, food culture in general is in vogue. The silver lining to this bubble is not that there is a bubble, that may one day pop, it is that people are beginning to re-imagine the potential of the urban land scape. There has been a paradigmatic shift away from globalization, particularly in the Midwest, that has been wrought with the realities of corporate consolidation and the outsourcing of much of our industries. A new alternative, in localism, has been born and found its leg to stand on in urban farming. Urban farming is here to stay, so get working on a garden!

For the full, official, report on Re-Imagine Cleveland click: Here

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