About the Author

After graduating from Dartmouth College in 2008, I moved back to my hometown – Cleveland, Ohio – and couldn’t bring myself to leave for New York or Boston like all my friends.

Instead, I started working for a local non-profit called Entrepreneurs for Sustainability, and then a sustainability consulting firm called BrownFlynn. I spent my nights and weekends writing for groups like the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, EcoWatch and Bioneers Cleveland, and, after a while, I decided to start my own project – Renovating the Rust Belt – to bring together all the inspiring stories of urban sustainability that were gathering around me.

As time passed, I became more involved in the revitalization of my post-industrial city.  I acted on the Steering Committee for Sustainable Cleveland 2019 and started participating in the events and network of the Great Lakes Urban Exchange. The more I learned, the more I began to realize that some big changes need to take place: planning, policy, business, collaboration, community outreach—projects sprouting from the ground-up and reaching from the top-down. I needed to know more so that I could find the levers in these Great Lakes cities and begin pulling.  So I decided to go back to school.

I recently graduated from the Masters of City and Regional Planning and Public Administration programs at The Ohio State University. While I was there, I founded and co-led a year-long independent study with 13 other graduate students to develop solutions to some of the Rust Belt’s challenges, which you can read about here. During and after grad school, I worked with the Urban Land Institute on the City in 2050 initiative and with Greater Ohio Policy Center on sustainable development policy and implementation, including smart growth issues such as urban revitalization, public transportation, and regional economic growth. Currently, I’m building an online library of Tools for Social Innovators – come over and take a look!

I’d love to hear from you, so give me a shout when you get a chance.

Far from the end,

Marianne Eppig


Want to read more? Here are some books that I’ve written:

Redeveloping Commercial Vacant Properties in Legacy Cities: A Guidebook to Linking Property Reuse and Economic Revitalization (May 2014) published by the German Marshall Fund of the U.S.

13 Strategies for Rust Belt Cities (June 2012) published in collaboration with the Knowlton School of Architecture’s City & Regional Planning Program at The Ohio State University.


17 thoughts on “About the Author

  1. Keep coming to polo! I couldn’t give you credit during the game (didn’t want to boost the opposition), but you did a great job getting in my way! PS, I’m liking this blog.

  2. Hahaha,
    Thanks Denny. Bike polo is tons of fun and I’m constantly in awe of how talented you guys are. My kickball team is moving their games to Sundays, so I’m not sure how that will affect my ability to go to bike polo. I might have to start going on Tuesday/Thursdays instead. We’ll see.

    You’ve got to come back and read more because my next post is about bike polo!

    Thanks for reading and see you soon,

  3. Hi Marianne:

    A quick introduction, my name is Kenneth Gillett and I am helping Ray Anderson, CEO and founder of the global carpet manufacturer Interface, get the word out about his new book Confessions of a Radical Industrialist: Profits, People, Purpose–Doing Business by Respecting the Earth. As you probably know, Ray is a sustainability pioneer, who after having had an eco-epiphany in 1994, set an ambitious goal for his company: “…to take nothing from the earth that can’t be replaced by the earth.”

    As you are a prominent sustainability thought leader yourself, particularly with Renovating the Rust Belt, I’d love to get you a complimentary copy of the book for your review. I would also like to offer Ray for Q&A’s and interviews for your site; just let me know and I’d be happy to help facilitate. The book comes out next week, September 15th, so we are really trying to do all we can to help support it.

    Ray’s book tells his personal story and also offers valuable insights into the challenges a billion dollar company faces when tackling waste, energy, water and other sustainability issues head on.

    Under Ray’s green leadership, Interface has successfully made money while taking the following strides up “Mount Sustainability”:

    • Cut greenhouse gas emissions by 82%, fossil fuel consumption by 60%, waste by 66% and water use by 75%
    • Invented and patented new machines, materials, and manufacturing processes
    • Increased sales by 66%, doubled earnings, and raised profit margins

    Thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon!

    All the best-

    P.S. Check out Ray’s new website at http://www.RayAnderson.com.

    • Hi Kenneth,
      Ah, flattery is one of the best marketing strategies. Sure, send a book along and I’ll give it a read.

      I’ve seen Ray Anderson speak at the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Summit and he is also the Keynote speaker at BrownFlynn’s conference at Valparaiso University: “Leading the Future of Sustainability: Implementing the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Framework”. (For more info on the conference: http://www.vu-gri.org/).

      We also use Interface carpet in the E4S (Entrepreneurs for Sustainability) office, and we tell the Interface story in our Biomimicry Network.

      Ray Anderson has a unique sustainability story that many business leaders can learn from, and I’m interested to see what he has to say this time.

      You can email me at marianne.eppig [at] gmail.com and I’ll let you know where to send the book.

      Best wishes,

  4. Hi Marianne,

    I’m working on a post for the Bioneers Conference for my website, Ecopalooza Green Events Network, and am hoping you can help me finish it, or direct me to someone who can. Here’s the link to the post:

    Thanks! I’m very impressed with your blog and the good green work you’re doing. I live in a fairly green-aware rural area (Mendocino County, Northern Cali), but I feel the real work of creating a green, environmentally sustainable planet will come from the work people like yourself is doing in the large cities.

    Cheers, Larry

  5. Hi! I didn’t see a “contact” page, so I thought I’d write you here. I’m headed up to Cleveland for a wedding next weekend, and I’m staying with my brother near an ecovillage called Detroit Shoreway (I think). Anyway, I’m a freelance photographer for a site called Re-nest, photographing virtual tours of “green” homes — that can mean the home was built with sustainable practices in mind, and/or the owners practice sustainability through their own practices and decor. I’m wondering if you might know anyone near that area who would be willing to have their home photographed. They would also fill out a detailed survey — you can find plenty of examples on the site! The catch, of course, is that it also has to be aesthetically pleasing (since it’s also a design website). If you think you might know someone, please send me an email. Thanks!!

  6. Marianne, I’m just discovering your blog for the first time. Your story is an inspiration to me and my wife because it sounds so much like what we imagined our daughter Sylvia Bingham might do with her life. Tragically, she was killed by a large box truck at 21st and Prospect in Cleveland on her way to work as a VISTA at Hard-Hatted Women on September 15, 2009, 4 months after graduation from Yale. We have set up a fund in her name that you can learn about at http://www.sylviabinghamfund.org. As you can see on the site, we have been supporting small grass-roots efforts to support sustainable projects and improve street safety. We would love to hear more about what you’re doing and also about any projects that you think would be ones we would like to support.

    Thanks, Steve Bingham

    • Hi Steve, I’m so touched by your comment. I remember when your daughter passed away (I wrote about her in this post: https://renovatingtherustbelt.wordpress.com/2009/09/21/sylvia-bingham-and-community-bike-ride/), and I am so sorry for your loss. It is such an inspiration that you have set up a fund in her name so that something good can come of this tragedy. There are so many grassroots organizations and efforts that are working to make our cities more sustainable. Some that you might be interested in learning more about are the Trust for Public Land’s completion of the Towpath Trail, the GreenCityBlueLake Institute (which advocates for bike infrastructure in Cleveland), and the Greater Ohio Policy Center (which is advocating for more sustainable transportation alternatives in Ohio).

      Here are some links that might be helpful:
      Trust for Public Land: http://www.tpl.org/what-we-do/where-we-work/ohio/Towpath-Trail.html
      GreenCityBlueLake: http://www.gcbl.org/transportation
      Greater Ohio: http://www.greaterohio.org/about-us/

      Please let me know if I can help in any way.
      Best wishes to you and your family,

      • Hi Marianne, I don’t think I ever replied to you over 2 years ago. First of all, thank you for your response. Also thank you for posting your blog at the time Sylvia was killed. Our Fund continues and you can see a list of the organizations we’ve supported here: http://www.sylviabinghamfund.org/grantsawarded.php. Would you continue to recommend the groups that you mentioned in March 2012 or do you have other suggestions? We’re especially interested in small organizations doing good work that especially affects low-income populations and that leverage the work of volunteer or paid internships such as VISTA.

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