I just moved back to Cleveland, my hometown, after graduating from college in New Hampshire, and one thing kept me from moving off to New York, Boston, or Chicago to join so many of my peers: the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative.

Although I loved growing up under the shade of the giant oak trees in Shaker Heights—where I walked the block to and from lower and middle school—I convinced myself while I was away in New Hampshire that the only place to live and work after graduation was some other city… any other city.

Why was this? Many of us Clevelanders have come to terms with the fact that Cleveland is indeed a shrinking city. Young people need jobs, and they want to be around other young people. I was lucky enough to find work in Cleveland, but many of my peers have not been so lucky.

So Cleveland needs to work on Sustainability. Sustaining the younger generations so that we have a growing (and constantly improving) workforce. Sustaining the economy with jobs – jobs that could be created through up and coming Green enterprises (plug for the wind turbines on the lake, among many other ideas to make Cleveland the Green City on the Blue Lake). Sustaining the environment by redeveloping in our city instead of continually sprawling.

While rooting for Cleveland is a lot like rooting for the Browns, many of us will never give up hope. There are so many people in this town that are dreaming, striving, and toiling to make Cleveland the Great City that it is and will become. The Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative is chock-full of people like this. They’re constantly concocting new and exciting ideas and then turning them into realities.

The CUDC is a Community of Practice. Their work has transformed many areas of Cleveland and its surrounding suburbs through redesign and redevelopment. The people at the Urban Design Center inspired me to re-imagine the way I thought about Cleveland and what I hoped for its future.

The CUDC taught me to once again “Love My Place” and to work towards making it the Perfect City for both myself and for many others.

by marianne eppig.

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