06-26-18

City of Dreams: Cleveland by Saurav Dhakal

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The Cleveland Council on World Affairs partnered with the U.S. Department of State to host a group of four professional Fellows from India, Pakistan, and Nepal through the program “Professional Fellows Program for Governance and Society.” While in Cleveland, the cohort was embedded within various nonprofit organizations and government entities as professional fellows eager to engage in cultural exchange, learn from their hosts, and provide a value-add to their organization or agency. Kent State’s CUDC was selected to host Saurav Dhakal, Founder of StoryCycle.com, a Nepal-based social venture. Saurav came to gain insights from the CUDC’s Making Our Own Space (MOOS) youth program. Following their stay in Cleveland, the group returned home to complete a “follow-on project” related to their fellowship.

The CUDC was honored to work closely with Saurav Dhakal during his stay. This is his Cleveland story…

When I landed in Cleveland during the 1st week of May 2018, the weather really surprised me. I had borrowed one warm coat thinking that it would be very cold but I had to buy a new umbrella due to the rain. The city is located on the southern shore of Lake Erie and the wind determines what the weather will be like in the city. I enjoyed my three weeks’ stay in Cleveland—walkable and cycle friendly.

IMG_20180520_200705Sunset from Cleveland’s North Coast Harbor.

I run a social venture, StoryCycle, in Nepal where I tell stories and map the stories of people, places, and products. I travel to promote different parts of the country. I also organize StoryCamps where we train young people on “how to collect stories and promote them on the internet”.  

IMG_20180521_091636Tree canopy provides a shaded path along Prospect Avenue from the hotel to the CUDC offices in downtown Cleveland.

StoryCycle collaborated with Google in late 2014 and organised Everest Story Camp to conduct a mapping project in the Everest region using 360 degree imagery.

While we were traveling to show the Google Maps Project to locals in April 2015, there was a big earthquake and we couldn’t move ahead. It took me six days to get back to my family. Everyone suffered due to the earthquake and I suffered, too.

After a few months, StoryCycle started a new campaign, “Build Your Own Place,” to support the rebuilding process. It served users with an online platform to understand, train, and participate in the rebuilding process at the earthquake affected areas.

It provided the people from the earthquake affected areas a place to put their stories along with the communities’ dreams. Besides, it helped the supporters to pick and support the projects they were interested in. The platform enabled people to meet their prospective investors.

Screen Shot 2018-06-24 at 11.00.31 PMScreenshot of the “Build Your Own Place” page on the www.storycycle.com website.

After the earthquake, we had political changes. We ratified a new constitution and a new federal structure. Now all national, provincial, and local level elections have been completed and we have a central government: 7 provincial and 753 local units (Municipality and Rural Municipality). It means we have 753 new cities but we don’t have appropriate youth friendly infrastructure and services. So, based on the learning of “Build Your Own Place” we are working on a new campaign/idea “Our Dream City”. The campaign aims to focus on empowering local youth and community institutions to take active part in designing and making their places vibrant by using technology. The campaign focuses on nurturing /attracting and retaining talent, expanding economic opportunities, and creating a robust culture of civic engagement.

saurav at la villa moosSaurav teaches MOOS students at La Villa Hispana how to document environmental features with photographs and GPS coordinates.

This working idea led me to Cleveland, Ohio, USA as a part of the Legislative Fellows Program via World Learning and Cleveland Council on World Affairs. I was placed at Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, where I followed one of their interesting programs, Making Our Own Space (MOOS), which “empowers youth with the skills to creatively transform their neighborhood public spaces. Through hands-on outdoor workshops, students design and construct environments and playscapes that are appealing and usable to their community.”

IMG_20180523_174037Discussing photographs during the Making Our Own Space workshop in Cleveland’s La Villa Hispana.

I had the chance to participate in a few workshops and work with youth participants of MOOS in Shaker Heights and La Villa Hispana. I liked the idea that young minds are designing and building projects that are really interesting. And the good part of this program is there are stories of youth—they produce a podcast about their life and city—Making Our Own Stories.

I also got a chance to revisit my idea and action plan. I am going to develop a crowdsourcing platform to collect stories, data, and map points from different cities. And facilitate/collaborate with different partners to design sustainable, livable, and smart place/cities by organizing Map Up Camps, Dream Camps, Story Camps, and Build Camps. This four series of camps is a mix of learning from MOOS. I have tried to customize it to our context and need.

I realize the ideas and thoughts of young people are the same everywhere. They love dreaming and imagination. Youth are dynamic and full of new ideas. We just need to give them space to explore and expand it.

Cleveland also gave me more ideas on locally grown food, drinks, and dreams.

If you would like to know more about my work, visit our website.

Saurav Dhakal
Founder, StoryCycle

 

06-25-18

CUDC Wins 2018 EDRA Great Places Award!

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On June 9th, the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) awarded the CUDC its 2018 Great Places Award for work on the Cleveland Public Library’s CPL150: Community Vision Plan.

From 2014 to 2017, CUDC staff, alongside the Cleveland Public Library, engaged 13 of the City’s 27 branch libraries. Named for the upcoming 150th anniversary of the Cleveland Public Library, the CPL150 Community Vision Plan approached library design from the perspective that every neighborhood is fundamentally different, and will need custom-tailored strategies to meet their needs. CPL150 was the combined strategy for determining these neighborhood-specific needs, identifying opportunities, and building consensus among disparate user groups around what their local libraries can and should become.

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Taking cues from the field of Experience Design, the design team envisioned the branch experience in totality: building; grounds; neighborhood; and services. Each of these four experience levels have a significant impact on the overall experience patrons encounter when visiting their local branch. A wide range of engagement tools were developed in order to ensure all community members could find points of entry to suit their comfort level. For each branch the design team held public meetings, open houses, and advisory committee meetings, in addition to targeted focus groups with youth and seniors and a widely distributed multilingual survey. Final recommendations spanned design scales, including ideas for interior reconfiguration, architectural improvements, neighborhood connectivity, and system-wide services. In all, CPL150 engaged over 1500 residents and stakeholders across approximately half of Cleveland’s geography.

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The EDRA Great Places Award recognizes interdisciplinary projects that engage the relationship between people and their environment. Four projects are awarded each year; this year CPL150 was awarded in the Planning category. CUDC Associate Director, David Jurca, was on hand to accept the award in Oklahoma City. Thanks to EDRA for the recognition and to the Cleveland Public Library for partnering on the CPL150 plan!

For more information on the project, check out the video below, or visit the project website: www.cpl150.org

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06-21-18

Jeff Kruth returns from his fellowship in Germany

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CUDC Urban Designer, Jeff Kruth,  just returned from a fellowship awarded by the American Council on Germany. Jeff spent nearly a month traveling in cities across Germany examining the role of urban development policies since German re-unification. Economic and physical restructuring of the city plays a crucial role in the configuration of contemporary German identity and social practices.

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In particular, Jeff looked at peripheral housing estates built during the GDR era. Patterns of demolition and re-investment, privatization of various housing estates, and an influx of new refugee populations make cities like Berlin and Dessau grounds for new social and spatial practices.

Similarly, Jeff looked at adaptive reuse projects in the western part of Germany, and in particular in the Ruhr Valley. The Ruhr Valley is similar to the US “Rust Belt,” in that it has undergone tremendous economic and demographic restructuring. Many of the adaptive reuse projects acknowledge the country’s industrial past, while signaling a transition to cultural and immaterial forms of production.

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Jeff will further the work developed in Germany through continued transatlantic partnerships and research at the CUDC in the coming year.

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