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Local Roots

June 13, 2013 in Environment, Quality Connected Places, Sustainability

Northeast Ohio has become somewhat of an epicenter of the local foods movement in the United States. From innovative urban agricultural zoning in Youngstown and Cleveland, to recognition of its historic and independent open markets (e.g. West Side Market in Cleveland), to entrepreneurial efforts to integrate local farming and markets in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, to future planning to increase local food growth, retailing, marketing and processing,[1] the region has set an example for other areas of the Midwest and the nation to follow. The case for local food has been made by many organizations, citing how local food means:[2]

  • Better quality: Fresher, picked at the peak of flavor, and it loses fewer nutrients in transport.
  • Better for the environment: Uses fewer fossil fuels in transportation, fewer chemicals for farming and promotes biological diversity.
  • Better for the economy: Invest in local business, and they’ll invest locally, too. And eating seasonally means food is less expensive, putting money back into your pocket.
  • Better for the community: Get to know who grows your food, and share ideas for growing and cooking with fellow local-foods lovers!

Local Roots Market and Café (and soon to also be Kitchen Incubator) has become a wonderful example of the evolution of the local food movement in Northeast Ohio. The concept began to emerge in Wooster (Wayne County) in February 2009 when people who were interested in

helping to make local food more accessible began to connect with one another and brainstorm how this could be best be accomplished. Meetings were held weekly to plan the development of what would become the Wooster Local Foods Cooperative, eventually doing business as Local Roots Market and Cafe.[3]

On Jan 30, 2010, almost exactly 1 year from those first meetings, the Local Roots Market & Café officially opened for business. According to their website,[4] the market has grown from being open only Saturday to six days a week. In October 2010, funds received from the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) were put towards the completion of a small, but commercially licensed kitchen facility.  This was completed in June 2011. In July 2011, Local Roots received notification of a grant from Rural Development/USDA for $99,500 to complete the full commercial kitchen facility.  The kitchen will allow producers to further process and preserve products for sale in the market. The April/May 2013 Newsletter, “Roots Cellar,” announced the installation of a 14’x10’ freezer by a volunteer group known as “The Kitchen Crew.” The Crew also completed the plumbing trenches with help from College of Wooster and Ashland University students.[5]

For more information about Local Roots Market & Café, please email info@LocalRootsWooster.com. The Market is located at 140 South Walnut Street in Wooster.

Local Roots Steering Committee Members from left to right: John Drouhard (Electrician, WCSEN), Keith Speirs (Architect, WCSEN), Dave Benchoff (OEFFA Board Member, Farmer), Jen Hugon (Graphic Artist), Jennifer McMullen (Writer), Marlene Barkheimer (Bank President), Jessica (Barkheimer) Eikleberry (Business/Computer Systems), John Anderson (Poultry Researcher – OARDC), Monica Bongue (OEFFA Member, PhD Biochemistry, Farmer), Betsy Anderson (Entomologist – OARDC, Former Professional Baker), Bill Boyer (HS Teacher, Gardener), Marlene Boyer (Family & Consumer Sciences HS Teacher)


[1] Masi, B., Schaller, L., and Shuman, M. (2010). The 25% Shift: The benefits of food localization for Northeast Ohio and how to realize them. Cleveland, OH and Silver Spring, MD: Cleveland Foundation, ParkWorks, Kent State University Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, Neighborhood Progress Inc., Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition.

[2] Local Roots Market & Café: Why Local? (retrieved 6.9.2013 from http://localrootswooster.com/why-local).

[3] Local Roots Market & Café: History (retrieved 6.9.2013 from http://localrootswooster.com/history).

[4] Ibid.

[5] Local Roots Market & Café. (April/May 2013). The Roots Cellar Newsletter (retrieved 6.9.2013 from http://localrootswooster.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/LRAprilMay2013.pdf).

Cleveland Metroparks Watershed Stewardship Center Opens in June

May 31, 2013 in Asset List, Environment

The Cleveland Metroparks’s Watershed Stewardship Center at West Creek, staffed by natural resource and education professionals, land protection specialists, volunteers, and visiting scientists, is the first facility in Cleveland Metroparks dedicated to scientific research and promoting sustainable action.

Its mission of enhancing and protecting our urban watersheds will be achieved through innovative community programming, encouraging regional participation in watershed issues, and promoting scientific discovery.

Here some information on the opening celebration, June 21 – 22:

Celebrate the solstice as we joyfully cross the bridge into the new Cleveland Metroparks Watershed Stewardship Center at West Creek!

The Watershed Stewardship Center is dedicated to promoting healthy urban watersheds through science, education, research and restoration. This Center was developed through a dedicated partnership between Cleveland Metroparks, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, and West Creek Conservancy to serve a diverse community through adult and youth science education programming and professional trainings and workshops. Come explore, discover and delight in the Watershed Stewardship Center’s unique blend of science and technology, paired with green design and grassroots volunteer action.

Learn about your local watershed by viewing our interactive topographic map and tour dozens of water management features. Would you like to meet a Water Hog? Wonder how a green roof makes “cents” by keeping its cool? Want to stroll through our stormwater pipe? There is a new experience for everyone wanting to take a plunge at the Watershed Stewardship Center this summer!

To find out more visit the Metroparks Website.

 

Mahoning River Corridor Initiative

May 7, 2013 in Environment, Mahoning

The Mahoning River flows through the eastern portion of the NEOSCC planning area before it eventually empties into the Ohio River in Pennsylvania. The Mahoning River was once considered the heart of the steel industry in the United States, where industrial development grew the cities of Youngstown, Warren, Newton Falls, Struthers and many others along its winding path. Commonly known as “The Valley,” this region experienced massive hemorrhaging of industrial and manufacturing jobs in the 1970s and 1980s. The result was population decline and disinvestment in traditional neighborhoods and urban centers that continues today. Additionally, the environmental impact of the industry in The Valley has made the Mahoning River infamous. The river is the only surface water body in Northeast Ohio where the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) has labeled its waters unfit for human contact from Warren to the Pennsylvania state line. More detailed information on the latest monitoring data and clean-up requirements is available from Ohio EPA.[1] Despite the challenges, however, a tremendous initiative to clean and reuse abandoned brownfields, improve water quality, expand recreational opportunity and generate new economic development along the Mahoning River is now underway: The Mahoning River Corridor Initiative (MRCI).

Housed at the Youngstown State University Center for Urban and Regional Studies, the MRCI is a regional brownfield and urban development collaboration of nine municipalities, Youngstown State University and four non-profit corporations. Among its goals are promoting the opportunities for economic development that exist in the Mahoning River corridor communities.[2] One of the major outputs of the MRCI is a Feasibility Report that:

  • Describes the Mahoning River Corridor Initiative
  • Identifies, maps, and inventories 16 brownfield project sites involving over 800 acres in the river corridor (these sites are available for further economic development and recreational or environmental enhancement).
  • Identifies 11 major infrastructure projects related to those sites.
  • Identifies eight environmental/preservation enhancement areas and 12 recreational enhancement projects.

A copy of the MRCI Feasibility Report is available on the organization’s news website.[3]

Dan Mamula, former mayor of Struthers and NEOSCC Board Member, manages the MRCI. Dan is available to answer questions about the development opportunities available in the corridor area and direct developers to helpful resources. Questions about MCRI may be directed to Dan Mamula by email (dcmamula@ysu.edu) or by telephone (330.941.1850). Additional information about MRCI may also be found through the project’s website (http://cfweb.cc.ysu.edu/psi/mrci/index.html), including success stories within the MRCI partner communities.

GCRTA HealthLine named ‘Best BRT in USA’

April 17, 2013 in cleveland, Transportation

Photo by Joshua Gunter, The Plain Dealer

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) recently received a Silver rating for the HealthLine – the highest ranking of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System in United States.

The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) presented the award for the HealthLine to Joseph Calabrese, CEO and General Manager, RTA, as well as to Mayor Frank Jackson, City of Cleveland, for its support of the project, on Tuesday, April 16 at 200 Public Square.

“The HealthLine is an example of how BRT can help to revitalize city centers, speed commutes, improve air quality, and leverage investment and development near transit, as we’ve seen with Cleveland,” said Walter Hook, ITDP CEO. “We consider the HealthLine to be a best practice for BRT in the US, and our hope is that it encourages other US cities to adopt this cutting-edge form of mass transit.”

Former Senator George Voinovich supported this project from his many years in Cleveland and served as its champion.

“It is a credit to the dedicated staff at RTA and the City of Cleveland that the HealthLine has been rated by the BRT Standard as the highest-quality bus rapid transit corridor in the United States,” said George Voinovich, retired Senator. “The HealthLine has not only dramatically improved transportation options from downtown to University Circle, it’s also been a catalyst for nearly six billion dollars of real estate investment along Euclid Avenue and is contributing a great deal toward revitalizing the city.”

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City of Cleveland Seeks Input: Climate Action

March 18, 2013 in cleveland, climate action, Environment, News

The City of Cleveland Mayor’s Office of Sustainability is leading a community process to create a Climate Action Plan (CAP) to not only reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but also plan for changes in the climate that will affect Clevelanders. The CAP is crucial to making Cleveland a more sustainable community. The City of Cleveland is examining how planning, policy, funding, infrastructure and land development decisions affect GHG emissions and local resilience to the impacts of climate change. The City of Cleveland needs your input to help create goals, actions, and policies that are both bold and achievable, to tailor national best practices to Cleveland, and to take Cleveland to the next level with an integrated and more detailed approach to sustainability and climate action planning.

There are two ways to get involved in this process:

  1. Participating online at The Civic Commons. Join the conversation here. 
  2. Save the Date and attend the Public Meeting, on April 11, 2013, from 5:30-7:30pm at Tri-C Main Campus

Digi-NEO…facts about Northeast Ohio

March 15, 2013 in Conditions and Trends, Connections, Engagement, Environment, News, Quality Connected Places, Transportation

During the course of developing the NEOSCC Conditions and Trends Platform, we developed 33 findings across the subject matter areas of economic development, transportation, housing, the environment and quality connected places in Northeast Ohio.  In order to communicate some of these findings, we have developed the Digi-NEO program which highlights different facts about the region’s successes as well as its challenges.

Visit our Digi NEO Gallery to learn more about our region.

Earthfest 2013

March 14, 2013 in Environment, News, Sustainability

Join Earth Day Coalition for EarthFest 2013 at this year’s new location, the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds, on Sunday, April 21 from 10am-5pm. In partnership with the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 initiative, we will be celebrating Advanced and Renewable Energy. Presented and organized by Earth Day Coalition since 1990 and now in its 24 year, EarthFest is Ohio’s largest environmental education event and the longest running Earth Day celebration in the nation.

NEW this year:

• Advanced and Renewable Energy exhibit area next to the Fairgrounds’ dramatic 500kW wind turbine and Energy Education Center. Attendees will learn first hand about exciting initiatives in our region as well as home products and conservation methods that utilize advanced energy sources, minimize emissions and maximize efficiency. Additional exhibit areas will include 175+ exhibitors in Clean Transportation (with Ride-and-Drive), Local and Sustainable Food, Green Home Improvement, NEW Lawn & Garden, Health and Fitness, Community Works and Family Fun. Also, visit the NASA Glenn Research Center Village at EarthFest.

• Families will have a fun-filled day with amusement rides, inflatable obstacle courses, petting zoo, urban farm animals, a beekeeper exhibit and more!

• Guests will enjoy microbrews, all-day chef demos and a huge selection of healthy and delicious local food from your favorite food trucks, such as Izzy Schrachner’s StrEat Mobile Bistro. (Look for a list of trucks and menus in our upcoming eblasts and on our website).

• Listen to all-day music and the best of Northeast Ohio singer-songwriters, musicians and bands on multiple “Party with the Planet” entertainment stages organized by students enrolled in Cuyahoga Community College’s entertainment booking class.

• Ride your bike to EarthFest, park at the Ohio City Bicycle Co-op valet station at the Bagley Road Fairgrounds entrance and get FREE admission to EarthFest.

• Take walking tours of Baldwin Wallace University’s solar, wind, composting and green building installations led by students from the university.

• Visit the regularly scheduled flea market repurposing event which will take place on the Fairgrounds during EarthFest and receive a dollar off admission to EarthFest.

Admission:
$3 ages 2-11; $5 ages 12+; FREE under age 2, for anyone who rides and parks their bike at the Fairgrounds entrance, and to guests who ride RTA’s Redline (regular fare) from any station to Brookpark Rapid Station and take the free EarthFest shuttle to the Fairgrounds.

We are accepting entries for the Hope and Stanley Adelstein Awards for Excellence annual K-12 Earth Day Art, Poetry and Essay contest. Cash prizes will be awarded at 11am Welcoming Ceremonies. Brochures are available on our website.

Exhibitor and sponsorship opportunities are available. Call (216) 281-6468 or visit www.earthdaycoalition.org for more information.

Help spread the word about EarthFest! Download an EarthFest flyer here to print, forward to friends and share through social media!

 

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Study of Hydraulic Fracturing and Its Potential Impact on Drinking Water Sources

February 26, 2013 in Environment, News, Sustainability

Image Courtesy of motherjones.com

In 2011, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) initiated its Plan to Study the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources. EPA’s intent is to study the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources, if any. EPA also wants to identify the driving factors that may affect the severity and frequency of drinking water resource impacts. EPA has designed the scope of the research around five stages of the hydraulic fracturing water cycle. Each stage of the cycle is associated with a primary research question:

1. Water Acquisition: What are the possible drinking water resource impacts of large volume water withdrawals from ground and surface waters?

2. Chemical Mixing:
What are the possible drinking water resource impacts of hydraulic fracturing fluid surface spills on or near well pads?

3. Well Injection:
What are the possible drinking water resource impacts of the injection and fracturing process?

4. Flowback and Produced Water:
What are the possible drinking water resource impacts of flowback and produced water (collectively referred to as “hydraulic fracturing wastewater”) surface spills on or near well pads?

5. Wastewater Treatment and Waste Disposal:
What are the possible drinking water resource impacts of inadequate treatment of hydraulic fracturing wastewater?

EPA’s study will ultimately produce a final report that describes 18 research projects underway to answer these research questions. The research projects are organized according to five different types of research activities: analysis of existing data, scenario evaluations, laboratory studies, toxicity assessments, and case studies. The EPA is committed to conducting a study that uses the best available science, independent sources of information, and a transparent, peer-reviewed process that will ensure the validity and accuracy of the results.

The EPA has designated the report as a “Highly Influential Scientific Assessment,” which will undergo peer review by the EPA’s Science Advisory Board, an independent and external federal advisory committee that conducts peer reviews of significant EPA research products and activities. Individual reports and papers will come out of both the internal and external review processes to ensure appropriate use of data. The final report of results will be released for public comment in 2014.

Additional information about the EPA’s Study of Hydraulic Fracturing is available at http://www.epa.gov/hfstudy/index.html. This site includes links to the December 2012 progress report, the executive summary, press releases, and information on how interested stakeholders may participate. Any questions about the site or the study may be directed to Katie Wagner (wagner.katie@epa.gov) or Dayna Gibbons (gibbons.dayna@epa.gov), the Hydraulic Fracturing Study Website Editors.

Exploring Alternative Fuels and Efficiency in Oberlin

February 14, 2013 in climate action, Sustainability, Transportation

College Joins Project to Reduce Vehicle Emissions and Adopt Alternative Fuels

FEB 11, 2013

Oberlin College has joined in a collaborative project with the city of Oberlin to improve energy efficiency and plan for alternative fuels for its fleet of vehicles.

The city, along with Oberlin College and eight other local partners, recently applied for an $86,000 grant from the Local Government Innovation Fund. The city will select an independent consultant to develop fuel- and cost-saving strategies, and to assess the feasibility of alternative fuels. The project will result in action plans to reduce fuel costs and emissions by 15 percent over three years, as well as logistical and infrastructure plans for the shared use of alternative fuels — including compressed natural gas, propane, electric/hybrid, and biofuels.

Fleet efficiency and alternative fuels are important measures toward achieving Oberlin’s goal of becoming the first climate positive city in the United States, says Oberlin City Manager Eric Norenberg. As signers of the Clinton Foundation Climate Positive Development Program, the city and college are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions below zero by 2050 and 2025, respectively.

“We are committed to good stewardship of the city’s financial resources and the environment, and this grant will help us do both,” Norenberg says. “The city and its partners in this effort will learn how to operate our fleets more efficiently and develop plans to further reduce emissions with alternative fuels and technologies.  Combining these strategies in one project will help move our community towards carbon neutrality.”

The Oberlin Project, a Joint venture between the City of Oberlin and Oberlin Ohio

To promote the expanded adoption of alternative fuels in Lorain County and throughout Ohio, a case study about each fleet’s progress, as well as the complete process and methodology for calculating potential demand alternative fuels will be published on cityofoberlin.com.

In addition to the city and college, the Oberlin Fuel Forward Project includes Oberlin City Schools, New Russia Township, Kendal at Oberlin, Lorain County Joint Vocational School, Lorain County Community College, Republic Services, Custom Cleaning Services, and Lorain County Metroparks.

What Can I Do Today?

Regional Land Protection in Northeast Ohio

January 15, 2013 in Environment, News, Quality Connected Places, Sustainability

The Western Reserve Land Conservancy (www.wrlandconservancy.org) has recently completed Common Ground, a regional land protection report for northern Ohio. The Western Reserve Land Conservancy is a nonprofit conservation organization in Moreland Hills, dedicated to preserving the natural resources of northern Ohio. Common Ground is the first-ever collaborative look at conservation in Northeast Ohio. The report is the result of the efforts of the region’s conservation community over the past year. It will soon be released to additional conservation partners and to the public.

Regional land conservation provides many benefits for Northeast Ohio. The ultimate objective of land conservation is to preserve the natural resources of the region that optimize quality of life for its inhabitants, including animals and plants as well as humans. Conservation protects existing open spaces, productive agricultural lands, ecologically-sensitive areas, and encourages more efficient land use within the existing development footprint. The ultimate vision of Western Reserve Land Conservancy is to ensure Northeast Ohio will be an authentic place where development is concentrated in historic urban areas such as Akron, Elyria, and Youngstown, in historic Western Reserve villages such as Chagrin Falls, Medina, Wooster, and Hudson, and, as needed, in new areas that promote lasting, community-oriented development. Working farms and urban gardens will flourish, supported by local markets that provide healthy and fresh produce that connects citizens to the land in a tangible, enduring way. Parks and preserves will connect people to the land, provide a safe place where children can play, and support a quality of life that attracts and retains diverse residents.

However, the Western Reserve Land Conservancy is not alone. Other land conservancies, both small and large, have operated successfully to protect many acres of farms, forests, and fields from spreading development. Some of these include national-level organizations like the Trust for Public Land (www.tpl.org) and The Nature Conservancy (www.nature.org). Others include local-level organizations within Northeast Ohio such as Gates Mills Land Conservancy (http://gatesmillslandconservancy.org/), the Killbuck Land Trust (www.killbucklandtrust.org) and the West Creek Preservation Committee (www.westcreek.org).

The Western Reserve Land Conservancy plans to release Common Ground over a series of events during the month of February. For more information about the report’s release, please contact the Conservancy at (440) 528-4150 or info@wrlandconservancy.org.

What Can I Do Today?