Aftermath of the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Summit


Marc Lefkowitz, of GreenCityBlueLake, has done a fantastic job of capturing some of the content from the three days of the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Summit.  So instead of re-summarizing the events of this momentous occassion, I defer to an expert:

  1. GreenCityBlueLake: Day 1
  2. GreenCityBlueLake: Day 2
  3. GreenCityBlueLake: Day 3

A friend of mine who I met and worked with at the Summit, David Pearl (writer and editor of the local documentary Polycultures) sent me a link to another article that takes a slightly different take on the Summit:

Observations on Sustainable Cleveland 2019 by Joe Koncelik

Joe brings up a good point – we need to be realistic when drafting our strategic plans for the next ten years.  However, this Summit was not meant to be “realistic” in the way that politicians often have to maintain boundaries, balance budgets, and keep constituents happy.  This summit was about Dreaming Big and bringing down industry boundaries to create a better city together.

Sustainable Cleveland 2019 was unprecedented in terms of bringing so many people from different silos together to move an entire city to become more sustainable environmentally, socially, and economically.  No other city has done this, as far as I know.  (If other cities have, please leave a comment and let me know – also, I’ll be looking further into this).

So, I think there needs to be a stage of dreaming up big initial goals (or Big Hairy Audacious Goals – BHAGS), which is what this Summit was all about.  The next stage of coming up with achievable action steps to lead up to some of those goals in the next ten years is up to us.

I would argue that some of the plans of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration fell through not because they were “unrealistic” and dreamed too big, but because they did not follow through on achievable action steps.

If we want to actually realize these dreams that we have dreamed during the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Summit, then we have to be willing to take responsibility for the sweat-equity that must take place between now and the time that we achieve our goals.

No one will do it for us.

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2 thoughts on “Aftermath of the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Summit

  1. I think these are some good points about the outcome of the conference, Marianne. I’m somewhat agnostic about whether the approach of the AI summit is the best possible one for our city’s situation. But I think dreaming big was great for tearing apart some of the silos (even if it made me cringe at time, like Joe) and we have dozens of actionable projects that people – as I understand it – are taking action on now. That seems like two pretty tremendous outcomes. But the proof will be in the pudding, three months and one year from now, say.

  2. Thanks for your comment, David. Agreed – let’s see what happens – but more importantly, let’s make it happen ourselves!

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