NeWER Approaches: Near West Empowerment + Renewal
Cleveland Summer of Solutions 2011
To revitalize Cleveland neighborhoods from within by attracting intellectual capital to Cleveland, cultivating innovation, and pursuing community-directed solutions to build environmental and economic resilience.
Cleveland, Ohio, is a city of contrasts and possibilities. The challenges are great, and Cleveland has faced troubles shared by many other American cities: deindustrialization, a shrinking population, tenacious poverty, racial tensions and inequities, and rising environmental and public health challenges. In the case of each of these 20th century problems, Cleveland is working towards 21st century solutions, with youth at the forefront.
Cleveland is usually rated either the number one or number two poorest city of its size in the country, but it’s also the birthplace of innovative solutions like the Evergreen Cooperatives, a cluster of worker-owned green businesses that have already attracted national acclaim as ‘The Cleveland Model’ for building sustainable wealth in troubled neighborhoods. Greater Cleveland is the 26th largest metro area in the country while its main county (Cuyahoga) is the fourth for total greenhouse gas emissions, but it is also poised to be the site of the country’s first freshwater offshore wind farm, on Lake Erie. Cleveland is one of the most obese cities in the country, yet it also boasts two six-acre urban farms and ‘innovation zones‘ (more than any other city), along with hundreds of smaller plots and a vibrant urban farming community.
On top of all of that, Cleveland is located in one of the most politically significant and contested states in the country, frequently attracting national attention to its programs, organizations, and leaders. It is a city where concentrated and bold action for community change and empowerment brings huge results. If you can make it work in Cleveland, you can make it work anywhere, and there is a lot of great work being done.
SoS Cleveland: The West Side
Cleveland is divided in two by the Cuyahoga River, and NeWER Approaches’ Summer of Solutions will take you to the Near West Side neighborhood of Tremont. Like Cleveland as a whole, Tremont is also a neighborhood with challenges and possibilities. With a sizable influx of new residents, Tremont’s restaurant, bar and art gallery scene is thriving, but it remains to be seen what exactly the new identity of the neighborhood will be, and how the interests of new and old residents will be balanced. Tremont also boasts a vibrant bike culture with the nearby Ohio City Bike Co-op, but recent system cuts at the RTA (Regional Transit Authority) have left it with only one, infrequently running public bus line. Tremont is blessed with a safe, centrally located park and farmer’s market, but still lacks a grocery store closer than the Dave’s supermarket on the other side of I-71 and across the Abbey Ave bridge. As with the rest of Cleveland, Tremont poses questions that we don’t yet have the answers to, but which offer opportunities for participants to learn about neighborhoods and cities in transition, and about how to take action responsibly and effectively within them.
NeWER Approaches connects with Cleveland’s dynamic network of residents, community groups, public institutions and private enterprises to attract and retain talent on the Near West Side. We bring young people from diverse backgrounds to Tremont for neighborhood revitalization projects, working in three teams focusing on public art, food access, and sustainable cooperative development in an 11-week summer program.
SoS Cleveland: The Project Areas
NeWER Approaches’ Summer of Solutions is working in three project areas, engaging with local organizations, individuals, and businesses to build a more resilient and sustainable Cleveland that works for all Clevelanders. The project areas are:
- Food Access Team- This team’s focus is on making local food affordable and available for all residents in the Clark-Metro and South Tremont neighborhood. Collaborating with clients, the team will increase area residents’ consumption of local produce through food-centered community dialogues and events. A summer priority is reviving the City Fresh Fresh Stop (a site for cooperative-purchasing, community supported agriculture), previously located on Clark and West 25th. The Fresh Stop’s offerings will go beyond plain retail: working with Fresh Stop clients, team members will also prepare regular community dinners, host culinary skill-sharing workshops, and support projects in Cleveland’s growing urban agriculture movement.
- Sustainable Cooperative Entrepreneurship- This team of Summer of Solutions participants will immerse themselves in the highly successful, much-renowned ‘Cleveland Model’ of sustainable and equitable wealth generation and small business development. Participants will be spending the summer supporting expansion of the Cleveland Model to other cities around the country, and will also build capacity by developing a case for support for further local cooperative resources.
- Re:Action- Under the guidance of both local artists as well as artists working in other ‘rust belt’ cities, Cleveland Summer of Solutions participants will develop both their own pieces of work while also developing strategies and resources for harnessing art as a powerful engine for economic and community development and a catalyst for social change and community identity. NeWER Approaches’ Summer of Solutions looks forward both to learning from the tremendous work already being done here, as well as adding our own element and vision to the local scene.
NeWER Approaches will also host a summer long Community Pathways Series, where long-time and new Clevelanders will learn how to more effectively integrate, enter and thrive as members of communities- both neighborhoods and places of employment. Through the Series, participants will explore City spaces as diverse as urban farms and steel mills; meet with and learn from local leaders from both the grassroots and the City’s major anchor institutions; and develop their skills through service and workshop trainings with local organizations, gardens, and neighborhood initiatives. All of our teams and projects will engage local youth, as young people have the largest stake in building an empowered, prosperous and more sustainable Cleveland.
Donate online to the Cleveland Summer of Solutions Program
You can also donate by check to the Cleveland program by sending a check addressed to “Grand Aspirations” with “Cleveland SoS” in the memo to:
413 Wacouta St. Suite 400
St. Paul, MN 55101