The Midwest Sustainable Cities Symposium is an organization which attempts to build a bridge between sustainable innovators and practitioners in different Midwestern US cities. It uses a grassroots network of individuals to share information and raise awareness and interest in sustainable projects around the Midwest, and hosts events in different cities throughout the year. This year’s symposium will take place in Cleveland, Ohio on September 14th and 15th. The inaugural event was May 28, 2011 at the Egan Urban Center at DePaul University, in Chicago, Illinois.

The mission of the symposium is to join practitioners and academics from all over the Midwest in order to share their ideas and best practices in such fields as sustainable development, urban agriculture, cooperativism, and localism. By doing this, we hope to boost Midwestern cities’ attempts to reshape their urban landscapes. Many of the cities represented in the symposium have been wracked by processes of corporate consolidation, de-industrialization and urban decay. In response to these processes, countless individuals throughout the Midwest have undertaken projects that seek to renew the spaces and functions of their cities, and part of their enduring and widespread success will depend on sharing ideas among a consortium of organizations, thinkers, and businesses. The Midwest Sustainable Cities Symposium aims to offer a venue for inspiring and spreading good ideas and exploring possibilities among the people who are already active. It also serves as a starting point for students and citizens to engage the real possibilities and potential for sustainable development that exist in Midwestern cities.

Detroit, Milwaukee, Cleveland, and countless other Rust Belt cities, in the wake of outsourcing and deindustrialization, have struggled to compensate for their losses in talent and population and by many counts have failed to find new ways to attract the kind of talent and development that will renew them for the 21st century. A Detroit CEO wrote in an email to Rust Wire, the rust belt news blog, that his firm had no choice but to relocate away from Detroit because of its inability to attract talent to Michigan, despite “one of the best hiring environments for IP firms in 40 years.”

Instead of trying unsuccessfully to compete with Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, New York, etc. for “creative class” clout, Rust Belt cities might stand a better chance for revitalization if they adopt initiatives in the realms of urban agriculture, localism, cooperation and sustainability. This way they will offer longer-term answers to the social and economic questions that remain ignored in prospering post-industrial cities. Many people and organizations in Rust Belt cities have been attempting to work on these problems (like what to do with abandoned warehouses and how to solve the problem of food deserts, to name a couple) within urban communities. Providing solutions to these persistent problems will carve a new niche for the former loci of manufacturing, and truly propel them into the 21st century with a different, but still very important, set of assets. It is our goal with this Symposium to unite some of the people already sharing this vision.

This is at once a learning experience, a solidarity action, a planning group and a conference on positive findings.

Share with us:




The Midwest Sustainable Cities Symposium is organized by Peter Murphy, Dan Brown and Brad Nosan.


§ 5 Responses to About

  • Ben says:

    This is pretty cool. The real challenge here is how to make the product relatively inexpensive to most whilst being profitable, how to minimize energy consumption to negligible levels or otherwise utilize clean renewable energy resource that is generated on site. There is also the need of easy, walkable distance, or atleast by public transit, to the most amount of people possible, or maximize accessibility. Hopefully this urban agriculture works and is widespread in the not too distant future. There are some major challenges to sustainability fundamentally rooted in the nature of capitalist consumer culture. The real challenge is to achieve social justice or equity in sustainability. In so far, much of the mainstream environmental movement as far as planning and design practices go have mostly been oriented towards very few, typically well to do, members of society that can afford to be “sustainable, “and are really just filling a market-niche. Essentially the mainstream environmental movement has been co-opted by corporations which really only offers an illusion that their practices are sustainable or green in the broadest sense (not just their profits in their lifetime), hence the term green-washing. This is done to improve PR and in turn profits. Can we consume our way to sustainability? The mainstream environmental movement co-opted by corporations suggests we can. Does buying a prius really part of the solution or does it just makes the consumer feel good about themselves? I bought a prius so I already feel good about myself I’m not going to or have to think about how most people can’t afford a prius, how my mansion consumes a ridiculous amounts of dirty non-renewable energy, where my food comes from and what goes into it, that I’m driving a lot more than before and gas saved is offset by the unsustainable production process, the fact that 80% of US toxic electronic waste is dumped in Asia, where everything I buy comes from and what kinds of environmental ,social and ecological harms involved in its production because I already did my part and bought a prius. I think this urban agriculture has great potential to making our way towards sustainability if done right, but people must recognize to achieve sustainability people must do more than just buy produce from one of these urban agricultural businesses and if our societies are not equitable then sustainability can never be achieved.

  • Peter says:

    Is there a registration for this? Sounds like quite the event.

  • Hi Peter,
    We suggest you go to our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=147571425312636
    and RSVP attending. Our registration is not particularly formal but we would love for more people to come.

    If you’re not on facebook that’s cool as well. Show up and we will mentally budget for an extra person (being you). Keep checking this blog or our facebook event page to see if we concoct any sort of formal registration.

    Brad, Dan and Peter (MSCS)

  • kathy rocco says:

    Just sharing an event on sustainability.

    Olmsted Falls Schools Hosts Sustainability Fair
    Olmsted Falls Middle School, 27045 Bagley Road, Olmsted Falls – 440 427-6100

    Olmsted Falls Schools, in conjunction with the Green Schools Committee of the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the US Green Building Council (NEOGBC), will host an evening about sustainability to showcase the best of the seventh grade student’s projects on Wednesday, May 30th from 6:00 – 8:30 PM.

    Open to the public, the best of the student sustainability projects will be showcased at the event. Come to learn through student projects and local vendors about alternative transportation, solar & wind energy, water conservation, general green building, sustainable materials, green cleaning and indoor air quality. The public is welcomed to recycle used chip bags, juice pouches, glue sticks, pens, old markers (Sharpies and highlighters), inkjet cartridges, ziploc bags, & tape dispensers during the fair.

    NEOGBC provided a lecture series for the students and they created sustainable projects to have a hands-on learning experience. The students have been working on these projects for three months. The selected showcase projects have been evaluated by the students and teachers.

    The Northeast Ohio Chapter of the USGBC works to transform the way our buildings and communities are designed, built and operated to improve our quality of life and protect natural resources for future generations. We strive to become the recognized leader of the sustainable building movement in the region, to assist the local government in implementing sustainable practices and LEED standards, and to provide outstanding sustainable education opportunities for the local design and construction communities.

    Contact: Kathleen Rocco, Chair of Sustainability Fair, Co-Chair of Green Schools Committee, 216-443-3731, krocco@cuyahogacounty.us



Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s