10-19-17

Habitat for Hard Places and the Ecologically Inclusive City

City residents live in the midst of many other creatures, even if we sometimes don’t notice them. Birds, bugs, bats, and squirrels are all around us. We share our communities with bigger animals too, like deer, coyote, foxes, and groundhogs.

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(Source: BBC.com)

Life can be difficult for creatures in the city. Near my office in Playhouse Square, I often see birds on the sidewalk, killed in collisions with downtown buildings.

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If we took the needs of birds in mind when designing tall buildings, our cities might be less fatal to our feathered friends. Likewise, city parks could include plants that support bee populations and landscapes that help small mammals survive. It’s not about handing over the city to wild creatures, but finding ways for peaceful coexistence.

My dog was recently sprayed by a skunk in our (relatively urban) Cleveland Heights neighborhood. So I do understand that sharing space with wildlife can have some unpleasant consequences. But consider the fact that a bat can eat its body weight in insects in a given night. Our bat neighbors play a big role in keeping mosquitos and bug-borne illnesses at bay.

An ecologically healthy city creates a sense of symbiosis between people and wildlife. You don’t have to invite a raccoon to breakfast. Although you might find one in the self-service buffet known as your garbage can on trash day. But we should look for ways to help other species feel at home in the city, for their benefit and our own.

In Cleveland, a key habitat area is the Cuyahoga River. The Cuyahoga has suffered a lot of abuse over the years, most notoriously catching fire several times due to industrial pollution. The last river fire was in 1969. The spectacle of a burning river helped lead to the enactment of the Federal Clean Water Act in 1972.

Today, the river no longer burns and a diverse range of fish live there. To support these growing populations of fish, Cuyahoga River Restoration launched Habitat for Hard Places, an initiative to provide habitat opportunities within the ship channel. It’s important to note that fish habitat will not displace existing businesses and land uses in the Flats. Places for fish can be tucked in around existing and proposed human development.

Cuyahoga River Restoration and the CUDC recently invited 65 people for an afternoon trip through the ship channel aboard the Holiday Cleveland. Participants included developers, property owners, ecologists, fish and water scientists, landscape architects and students, and staff from the Ohio and US EPA.

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(Source: Katie Slusher)

Read more…

10-17-17

Cleveland Public Library: Community Vision Plan Wrap-Up!

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We’re happy to announce the final publication of our CPL150 Community Vision Plan!

CPL all four books

For the past three years, CUDC staff have been working with the Cleveland Public Library (CPL) on their Community Vision Plan. One of CPL’s strategic priorities is to prepare the library system for its 150th anniversary, in 2019. CPL150, the name of the engagement process, involved 13 of the system’s 27 branch communities to ask what they need from their local library branch.

CPL faces a challenge familiar to many institutions serving communities in Cleveland: How can we best meet the needs of our patrons in a changing context of new technologies, aging facilities, and declining population? How can each branch custom-tailor its library experience to meet the specific needs of its community?

For each group of branches, the team engaged community members in a series of public meetings, surveys, open houses, advisory committee meetings, and targeted focus groups, for a three-year total of over 1,500 points of engagement. The team then produced a report for each group, summarizing the engagement feedback and the final recommendations. These recommendations included physical improvements, like interior reconfiguring or exterior seating areas, but also ideas for improving services, as well as larger neighborhood connections which can better integrate each branch into its surroundings. We summarized this overall branch experience into four distinct, nested levels: library building; library grounds; neighborhood; and library services.

Experience-Diagram

The final reports, from all three years, are on our CPL150.org site, available for perusal or download:

Group 1 (2015): Fleet, South, Sterling, and Woodland branches (Purchase report on Amazon)

Group 2 (2016): Brooklyn, Mt Pleasant, and South Brooklyn branches (Purchase report on Amazon)

Group 3 (2017): Eastman, Hough, Union, Walz, and West Park branches (Purchase report on Amazon)

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In addition, we’ve assembled a Summary Report which outlines some of the major themes we heard across most or all branches studied (Purchase Summary Report on Amazon). The design team found that far from becoming obsolete, our neighborhood libraries are more important than ever for the many ways they continue to serve their local population. Our library branches are information centers, community work spaces, workforce assistance centers, after-school gathering spots, and more.

Please visit cpl150.org for more information on our three-year collaboration with the Cleveland Public Library!

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10-04-17

Kristen Zeiber Lecture | October 6

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Lecture: “Scaling Up: Design with People and Places
Kristen Zeiber
Friday, October 6th
12(noon) — 1pm
CUDC, 1309 Euclid Avenue, Suite 200
Free and open to the public

RSVPs encouraged on Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/573039656153285/

In her talk, Kristen will speak about navigating scales, from architecture to urban design to regional design, in her exploration of the connection between people and the places they live. Work presented ranges from small-scale design/build to watersheds, from the post-Katrina Gulf Coast to post-coal Pennsylvania. She argues that across all scales, designers should work for people, and with respect for their relationship to the landscapes where they have chosen to live—even if those places have environmental or economic risk.

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Kristen Zeiber is a Project Manager, Urban Designer, and Adjunct Faculty at Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC). She has been with the CUDC since 2013, and contributes to the organization’s neighborhood planning, research, mapping, and student advising. She also teaches the annual Midwest Urban Design Charrette for Masters students in Architecture and Urban Design in collaboration with several other universities. She is on the Board of Directors and co-chairs the Scholarship Committee for the Cleveland chapter of ACE Mentors, a nonprofit extracurricular program which introduces high school students to the Architecture, Construction, and Engineering professions.

Kristen’s previous Community Design Center and Design/Build experience includes over four years post-Katrina at Mississippi State University’s Gulf Coast Community Design Studio in Biloxi, MS, with founder David Perkes; and short internships with the Center for Urban Pedagogy in New York and the Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Vermont. She holds a MS in Architecture Studies (SMArchS-Urbanism) from MIT, and a Bachelor’s of Architecture from Penn State University.

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