CircletheUSA.com visits Cleveland

CircletheUSA.com, a website maintained by the Planning Commissioners Journal, is currently undertaking a cross-country road trip documenting notable city planning projects along the way. The recently concluded first leg of the trip stretched from Vermont to Cleveland and the second leg will continue on to Chicago. reimagining-cover

While in Cleveland, the blog’s author met with Terry Schwarz, Senior Planner from the CUDC, Bob Brown, Planning Director for the City of Cleveland and Bobbi Reichtell, Senior Vice President for Programs at Neighborhood Progress Inc., to discuss the Re-Imagining a More Sustainable Cleveland report. The visit and subsequent thoughts on Cleveland’s progressive strategy for addressing vacancy are presented in the Audacious…or Realistic? post. 

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Cleveland Leads with Slime Mold Tactics

Cleveland is a lot like slime mold.  At least that’s how Holly Harlan, founder of the local non-profit Entrepreneurs for Sustainability (E4S), compliments our city*.  And what a compliment!

Slime mold cells have the ability to move around as they please and follow one another’s chemical traces, much like ants.  When presented with conditions unfavorable for growth or survival, slime mold cells swarm together and fuse into a single enormous cell containing thousands of nuclei.

If this slime mold “blob”—called the plasmodium—begins to dry out too quickly or is starved, it creates body armor for itself by transforming into a hard, dry mass called a sclerotium.  The armored mass protects the dormant cells inside until better conditions for growth return.

What Harlan meant by relating Cleveland to slime mold is that when faced with adversity, Clevelanders join together for stronger survival tactics (I can’t help but think of Russell Crowe telling the other gladiators to fight as one here).

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EarthFest 2009


Today is EarthFest!  Go to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo today anytime between 10am and 5pm and you will be treated to Ohio’s largest environmental education event and the longest running Earth Day Celebration in the NATION.

If you missed the Walk or Bike for the Earth, then you can still ride the FREE RTA Clean-Air Bus that runs from Public Square to the Zoo – and you get free admission if you do.  Also, bring a plastic grocery bag to recycle and you can exchange it for a reusable bag!

To find out more about the event and the 160+ environmental exhibits for climate change solutions, visit earthdaycoalition.org!

by marianne eppig.


Green City Blue Lake on Pop Up City

Last week Marc Lefkowitz, blog author extraordinaire for Green City Blue Lake, published a great post about Pop Up City and the Urban Design Center’s efforts to ignite (not literally) vacant spaces in Cleveland.

To read the post, visit http://www.gcbl.org/blog/marc-lefkowitz/counterculture-ignites-fallow-urban-space

In addition to giving our new publication, Pop Up City, a congenial review (“The essay and book is not only a fascinating read, it’s filled with eye candy”), Marc brought up some good points.  He asked towards the end of the post:

Will those seeds grow to inspire some Temporary Users to leave the protective circle of the CUDC?

In other words, he’s asking whether the Cleveland Urban Design Center’s Pop Up temporary events will inspire other groups and individuals around the city to start temporary uses of their own in otherwise abandoned lots.

For anyone out there who is reading this, we would love to hear back from you.  Leave a comment and let us know about your experiences, ideas, and events that were/are all about temporary uses of vacant spaces.

And for anyone who is interested in starting a temporary event or use of a vacant space in Cleveland, there is a handy brochure in the back of the recent Pop Up City publication titled “Temporary Use Advice & Contacts”.  It lets you know what kinds of permits you might need to get in order to use a space, and it’s also chock-full of advice from how to get sponsors to how many Port-O-Potties you may need.  So, if you haven’t already, pick up a book and start igniting (please, not literally) Cleveland!

by marianne eppig.



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.