What I envision for Cleveland in 2019
When you think about it, ten years isn’t really all that much time. But instead of setting a realistic benchmark to begin with, I’m going to offer some BHAGs (“Big Hairy Audacious Goals”) for the future and then we can break those BHAGs down into achievable steps and see what we can get done by 2019.
So, in the future, I hope to step out of my apartment building (which has a green roof like all the other apartment buildings in the city) and walk to work. Green space lines the entire walkway and bicycles pass in their own lanes (on every street). I can buy food from local vendors and urban farmers, who are up early to catch the morning rush of people walking to work. From where I am walking along the well-designed waterfront, I can see the slow turning of the offshore wind turbines, which Cleveland has become known for.
The city is beautiful. Green space is everywhere. The RTA flashes through the street, emitting nothing. The renovated brick buildings offer multiple uses, from retail and dining on street level to childcare, assisted living and apartments. Businesses of all sizes and industry are thriving in the city. Public art is ubiquitous.
There is a dense population of people living in the city, because in the last ten years gas prices skyrocketed and people began to realize the folly of suburban sprawl. Children rush into the nationally top-ranked schools (that went through a major overhaul in the last ten years), and, because the economy has significantly improved, jobs abound in the city.
The neighborhoods I pass by are beautiful and prosperous, filled with healthy and productive citizens. It goes without saying that all these neighborhoods are safe, due to our helpful police force and social services. APOC (A Piece of Cleveland), which has grown considerably, transformed once foreclosed houses into more useful products. Some foreclosed properties are now urban gardens or alternative energy farms, although most of the neighborhoods have been re-designed to better suit the needs of their inhabitants.
Cleveland has become a “Zero Waste” city by restructuring its waste system to compost, recycle, and find industries to reuse discarded items. Our waterways have become much cleaner and are flourishing with life due to some major remediation and conservation efforts, in addition to government regulation. Our sewer system is much less burdened due to the increase of urban rain gardens and green space. Phytoremediation projects have significantly decreased the number of brownfields in the city.
The city has undergone significant economic development in the past decade. In several progressive moves, the city began offering vacant land for free to people and organizations who would maintain them, and developers and building owners began offering free rent to bring businesses and individuals back to the city. The increase of businesses increased the number of jobs in the city, and an influx of people followed. Major development projects, such as the Flats East Bank project, the waterfront re-design, the Towpath Trail completion through the city to the Lake, and the re-development of neighborhoods has increased Cleveland’s national profile and ranking.
Regional collaboration and cross-silo support of city-wide sustainability has made Cleveland globally competitive, and the city attracts and retains some of the world’s best and brightest individuals and organizations.
(Picture by the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative)