December 9, 2013 § Leave a Comment
October 15, 2013 § Leave a Comment
There is a popular thought experiment that goes a little like this: ‘What would you do if you had a million dollars?’ Frankly, I have no idea. A million dollars is something I cannot even fathom. I work two jobs, and fill my ‘free-time’ working to get ideas off the ground so that one day, I can pursue one of these more meaningful endeavors as a full-time gig. So, for the sake of discussion, lets scale things down to a more human scale; ‘What would you do if you had $10,000?”
This is a question I have an answer to!
Starting October 14th Enterprise Community Partners is working with Ohio Savings Bank to provide $10,000 in jump-start funds for an idea. The winner of a fundraising campaign, hosted on CrowdRise, will be the recipient of $10,000 in unrestricted funds. The idea that generates the most funds raised through this campaign will not only receive all the funds they have generated through crowd-sourcing, but get an additional check for $10,000 thanks to Ohio Savings Bank.
According to Mark McDermott, vice-president of Enterprise Community Partners: “The awards are designed to help them take calculated risks and try new projects, providing the resources they need for their transformative ideas to flourish.”
Rust Belt Gardens, in collaboration with Detroit-Shoreway Community Development Organization, Groundz Recycling, Ohio State University Extension Campus, Bike Cleveland, and Cleveland’s Office of Sustainability are hoping to launch Cleveland’s first human powered, carbon negative, residential compost removal service.
What our group aims to do is build on two of Cleveland’s most radical movements in a complimentary fashion so as to raise the visibility and economy of scale around both our cycling and farming communities as they continue to grow. The business model is anything but new, with its predecessors finding roots in the Twin-Cities, Northhampton, Mass. and Burlington, Vermont to name a few. Residents, and eventually businesses, will have the ability to sign up for a fee-for-service compost removal program based on their needs. If your household produces a lot of food-waste, a weekly pick-up subscription might make sense for you. Perhaps you live alone and would only need your compost removed once a month? Different subscriptions will allow for flexibility based on the need of the user.
What makes this program unique is its commitment to sustainability in every aspect of its planning. By using bikes with custom-built trailers to haul compost we are reducing the overhead cost, virtually eliminating maintenance cost, and doing away with concerns of fuel price fluctuation. Additionally, this service will directly benefit the community it serves by generating compost for community gardens who are committed to providing fresh produce, free of charge, to their neighbors. This close looped cycle reduces community waste, improves community soil content, connects residents to community building projects, and advances the visibility of cycling while birthing one of Cleveland’s only bike-based businesses.
The business will be owned and operated by the cyclists who conduct the pick-up and drop-off. We will be modeling our growth after the wildly successful Pedal People Cooperative who have made over 120,000 pick-ups since 2002.
If you want to help see a new business get the chance to prove itself, to advance a new kind of localism that turns what otherwise would be garbage into a value-added service, please consider donating to Rust Belt Gardens’ crowd-funding campaign. For more information please follow the links below:
Stay in touch as we will be hosting a benefit concert and other community wide events to raise awareness about our cause, our goals and learn from our neighbors as we roll out this project!
For more specific questions/ inquires please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your support, you all rule!
September 6, 2013 § Leave a Comment
“The question of what kind of city we want cannot be divorced from that of what kind of social ties, relationship to nature, lifestyles, technologies and aesthetic values we desire. The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city. It is, moreover, a common rather than an individual right since this transformation inevitably depends upon the exercise of a collective power to reshape the processes of urbanization. The freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves is, I want to argue, one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights.” – David Harvey: The Right to the City
This excerpt from David Harvey’s essay, “The Right to the City” has been weighing very heavily on me lately. It succinctly expresses the problem and solution to the question of urbanity. The problem: urbanity, currently, allows us to conceive of ourselves as autonomous individuals who merely exist in a codified system. This complicates “social ties, (our) relationship to nature, lifestyles, technologies and aesthetic values…” and we are left with a society very much like the one you and I know and experience on a day-to-day basis. The beauty, and answer to this dilemma resides in the fact that our initial understanding of the modern condition of urbanity has been askew all along. Urbanity is inherently co-dependent, and relational rather than independent and egocentric. Knowing this is empowering and taking this sentiment to heart has the capacity to be transformative in every sense of the word.
Part of the reason that we have so many societal wows is because we often think of ourselves as individuals rather than members of a larger whole. It should go without saying that this phenomena is shaped, in large part, by economic systems that we, seemingly, have no control over. The transformative power of Harvey’s sentiments is how his solution has been framed, namely; it is our right to transform systems, particularly given the fact that we created them. The shame of the situation resides in the fact that a system that we has become perverted to no longer serve the interests of the masses, and perpetuate divisive tactics that underscore the believe in the individual over and above the common(s) good.
So, how do we shift paradigms, what steps need to be taken to re-awaken our sense of community, and belonging to and for one another?
It can also look like this:
Cities are ours lets see that they help us to see, really see, each other as dependent upon each other because we are.
May 7, 2013 § 1 Comment
May 7th, will be a day that lives on fondly in Cleveland for years to come. Families can breathe a united sigh of relief as a community trauma comes to a bittersweet end. Yesterday, three women; Amanda Berry (27), Gina DeJesus (23), and Michelle Knight (30) were found on Cleveland’s near west side after having been missing anywhere from nine to eleven years.
The women were locked in a house owned by Ariel Castro, who along with his two brothers were arrested yesterday. We don’t know much, as details on the kidnapping are emerging as the investigation continues.
There are, however, a number of things that we do know. What we can take away speaks less to the central issues of child/ human trafficking, and more to the issue of a community and what it means to belong to one.
What yesterday revealed is that, despite being told repeatedly that we are a nation that lives in the glow of our portable computers, iPods, and our Facebook-warped-reality, there are still pockets of this world where people engage, and interface with, their community and one another. It is, admittedly, something that I often wonder about myself. What will communities look like as we increasingly identify more with non-physical communities (twitter followers/ facebook ‘friends’ / instragram ‘likes’) than with one another? People increasingly don’t know who their neighbors are and it goes without saying, but this is a very bad thing.
What this disturbing story tells us is that, despite the trends, there is hope. There is hope that in communities people can look out for one another, take care of one another, and become unified in the most unexpected moments. The man who answered the call for help, Charles Ramsey, is a hero, and we all could learn a thing or two from him. He heard a call for help and responded. Without Charles Ramsey the fate of these young women would still be unknown.
In an interview with Cleveland’s Channel 5 News, Ramsey stated that he had lived in the neighborhood for just a year. This seemingly moot point resonated with me. I cannot help but wonder and reflect on my own experience and role as a neighbor. In the past two years I have moved twice, living in two distinctly different communities throughout Cleveland. Last year, I lived in the St. Clair-Superior neighborhood at E. 61st and St. Clair. This year, I live in Gordon Square at W. 61st and Detroit. The actions of Mr. Ramsey make me question the degree to which I really know my neighbors and the lengths I would go to protect them. In both communities that I lived in, leaders emerge, and familiar faces began to make themselves known – the Charles Ramseys of the neighborhood, if you will. Recognizable patterns develop and you can, slowly, begin to catch on to when things are off, it’s a gut feeling or spidey sense that we all carry with us. Some of us have this sense for feeling more finely tuned than others. Certain people can notice when the smallest thing is different and respond without thinking twice. That is what Mr. Ramsey possesses, and what Mr. Ramsey did. What he carries with him is an acknowledgement that we are each other’s support system; we are nothing without our neighbors, our community, our family.
Each of our communities would benefit from a Charles Ramsey living in it, we all would be better off to take a note from him, and begin to act accordingly. Take this opportunity to hug a little tighter the women and men in your life that you love and care for. Introduce yourself to that neighbor you have seen walk past your front door a couple of times, but have never acknowledged. Shoot the shit with people at your corner and make yourself vulnerable, because it is only in these situations that you can grow closer to becoming the Ramsey of your neighborhood.
Take this opportunity to realize that Charles Ramsey is a hero, not a meme. He is a man, not a viral sensation. He speaks to the aspirations of every community and while his interviews will be, and already are, remixed and autotuned let us not forget the heroics this man displayed yesterday and ask yourself what you would have done.
After hearing the news, I went to my neighborhood’s ‘commons’ the Convenient Food Mart, and spoke with the owners and long-time residents of the neighborhood. In our conversation something profound and reassuring took place. “I know if there is an extra cat in somebody’s house! That shit wouldn’t ever happen on our block – we look out for each other here!” It was a statement that, while it might not be entirely true, has started a conversation between neighbors. It was out of this conversation that I realized I have a Charles Ramsey on my block – and it’s a great feeling that is at once empowering and comforting, but we could always use more! Who is your Charles Ramsey, is it you, an elder, or just a loquacious little guy constantly riding his scooter up and down the block keeping tabs on everybody? Know your support system and actively contribute to its growth.
So look out for each other! It starts with a hand shake, a wave, a passing comment or any number of things! Learn your neighbors names, learn their hobbies their passions, their interests, and no this doesn’t make you a stalker or a creep, it makes you human! Make your neighborhood better, more resilient and better off just by having a conversation and having each other’s backs.
Below is the aforementioned interview. Listen to the way he speaks about his community, his neighbors, domestic violence, and how despite being a fully engaged resident of his community, some things can still slip through the cracks. In a three minute interview Charles Ramsey is able to articulate the diverse issues at hand from domestic violence, to activities that make a neighborhood a neighborhood. “We see this guy every day!” Even in a community where you have barbecues, music playing, and conversations taking place things like this can still happen, which only underscores the need to know, on a personal level, your neighbors. People can be pretty awful, but Charles Ramsey reminds us that they can be utterly amazing too.
January 16, 2013 § 1 Comment
Last night, on January 15th, I had the privilege of seeing Italian ethnographer, and Rust-Belt lover, Allessandro Coppola, speak at Cleveland State University as part of the Levin College of Urban Affairs Public Forum program.Dr. Coppola was revealing his findings from his most recent work, ‘Apocalypse Town: Tales from the End of Urban Civilization’, a title he fiercely detested but, in the end, was forced to accept. His book, yet to be translated from Italian to English, tells the story that readers of this blog are familiar with; shrinking cities wrought by de-industrialization, failed urban renewal programs, and governmental policies that favor sprawl over a robust urban core.
The perspective of his lecture bore greater significance than its content. This is not a jab or backhanded compliment to Dr. Coppola, but rather a recognition of the fact that most of the audience last night knew on a personal level the very phenomena he had been trying to convey to his Italian audience. He knew this, the crowd knew this, and it was through this mutual understanding that gave us, Cleveland natives and in a very clear sense the subjects of his book, a space to step back and really take in the magnitude of our work, our struggle, and our vision.
January 14, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Last week, the folks over at Richard Florida’s The Atlantic Cities wrote a real think piece. The article, entitled ‘How Economic Segregation Spreads Crime like a Virus’, is built upon a fairly simple and understandable premise; when varying economic groups are living within isolation, rather than integration, crime rates rise. Mind blowing, right?!
So why am I wasting my time telling you about a real whoop-dee-doo article that came out of intensive research from the cats over at the Brookings Institute and the D.C. Crime Policy Institute? Because in no uncertain terms is this article littered with unadulterated classism and ambiguous flashes of racism, and that’s a real problem. Not to mention that I think we can all agree with the idea that eugenics is a bad thing.
July 10, 2012 § 1 Comment
This past week The Daily Mail featured a photo essay by St. Louis photographer Demond Meek entitled “Slum Beautiful” in which the artist chronicled some of the city’s abandoned buildings and crumbling lots. In the article, “City of Ghosts,” Meek told the Daily Mail, “I wanted to focus on the buildings that were once considered beautiful or treasures- a few that could be fixed up with a little bit of love.”