Sunday, March 4, 2007

Staying Engaged In Our Communities

I thought I was going to do a synopsis of my findings at the Transforming Cleveland community meetings, and at some point I will. But instead I find a need to do a different kind of post. How do we stop the 'disconnect' between government, the non profit development corporations and businesses and homeowners in our communities? It's not a new phenomenon.

The Planning Commission (and therefore Mayor Jackson and the rest of the City staff) seem to be doing a good job updating Cleveland's master plan and even initiating efforts that are moving some of these plans forward. Mayor Jackson had an aggressive Five Year CIP for Cleveland which he unveiled in January. Our individual neighborhood development corporations are working their butts off to make things happen and improve the communities they represent.

What I keep thinking - and what people continually said at the last meeting is: we like the plan, we've seen others, what is being done to move things forward? We need jobs, not more plans to figure out how to get jobs. We need schools that satisfy the communities so residents want to stay there and send their children there; we need community involvement. It's not an 'us' and 'them' situation.

There are many people working on the grassroots level to either be the squeaky wheel, or get projects completed. I keep going back to the schools. This may sound radical, but I wonder how things would go if we fired the School Boards and our schools became coops of the neighborhoods in which they reside. Some of the ideas brought out at the Saturday meeting at Gunning Recreation Center (by Robert Brown, the Planning Director), were interesting. Making some of Cleveland's schools magnets by expanding on the theme of 'specialty' schools. The School of the Arts already does that. Max Hayes does that. Now apparently there is a push for a school with a focus on teaching 'design.'
The discussion at both of the Connecting Cleveland meetings I attended was lively. A recap will follow, maybe even tomorrow. These meetings showed me that I can't afford to be disconnected, I have to be engaged, as others are, about what is happening in The City of Cleveland. Peace Out - 3C (photo property of Carole Cohen, 2007©)

No comments: