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Less than 2 weeks until Vision Sessions!

September 25, 2013 in ACT, Engagement, Scenario Planning

Over the course of the last year, the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium (NEOSCC) engaged residents, elected officials, and experts throughout our 12-county region in a rigorous scenario planning process. Our goal throughout this process has been to work out what choices we can make now that will give our region the greatest chance for success in the future. Two sets of past events drew hundreds of Northeast Ohio residents from all over the region to give their feedback.

The final phase of our project will synthesize a shared vision around our region’s priorities and assets based on that feedback—then provide recommendations on how we might get there.

This upcoming set of events will present to the public its proposed Vibrant NEO 2040 Vision, a strategic and inspirational roadmap for the future of the region that has been built upon everything we have heard and learned to-date. This work will answer the questions, “where do we want to go, and how will we get there?” Each Vision Session will include an interactive presentation with polling, followed by an informal open house and Q&A session.

Information about the first two set of events, which allowed us to build up to the proposed plan, can be found on our website: Phase One Workshop and Open Houses.

Online registration for all workshops is available at the links below. Prior registration is not required, but is encouraged. 

 

Mon., October 7:

Lorain County Community College (Spitzer Conference Center)

1005 North Abbe Road, Elyria, OH 44035

6:00PM Registration/6:30-8:00PM Program

http://tinyurl.com/vision-LCCC

 

Tues., October 8:

 

Akron Urban League

440 Vernon Odom Boulevard, Akron, OH 44307

6:00PM Registration/6:30-8:00PM Program

http://tinyurl.com/vision-Akron-Urban

 

 

Weds., October 9:

 

Harvey Rice Elementary School

2730 E. 116th Street , Cleveland, OH 44120

6:00PM Registration/6:30-8:00PM Program

http://tinyurl.com/vision-Harvey-Rice

 

 

Thurs., October 10:


Raymond John Wean Foundation

147 West Market Street, Warren, OH 44481

10:30AM Registration/11:00-12:30PM Program

 

 

Youngstown State University Williamson Conference Center

221 North Hazel Street, Youngstown OH 44503

6:00PM Registration/6:30-8:00PM Program

 

http://tinyurl.com/vision-YSU

 

Mon., October 14:

 

Fairview Park Gemini Recreation Center

21225 Lorain Road – Fairview Park, Ohio 44126

6:00PM Registration/6:30-8:00PM Program

http://tinyurl.com/vision-Gemini-Rec

 

Tues., October 15:

PARTA Kent Central Gateway

201 East Erie Street – Kent, Ohio 44240

10:30AM Registration/11:00-12:30PM Program

http://tinyurl.com/vision-PARTA

 

Tues., October 15:

Stark State College Silk Auditorium

6200 Frank Avenue Northwest, North Canton, OH 44720

6:00PM Registration/6:30-8:00PM Program

http://tinyurl.com/vision-Stark

 

Weds., October 16:

Kent State University Ashtabula Campus Blue and Gold Room

3300 Lake Road West – Ashtabula, Ohio, 44004

6:00PM Registration/6:30-8:00PM Program

http://tinyurl.com/vision-Ashtabula

 

Thurs., October 17:

Lake Erie College Morley Music Hall

391 West Washington Street – Painesville, Ohio 44077

6:00PM Registration/6:30-8:00PM Program

http://tinyurl.com/vision-Lake-Erie

 

Today kicks off the next round of Vibrant NEO Open Houses

July 29, 2013 in ACT, News, Scenario Planning, Vibrant NEO 2040

Today kicks off the next round of Vibrant NEO Open Houses where we will look at Alternative Scenarios - different potential futures for Northeast Ohio - that could result from different choices.
These are critically important discussions.  The entire Vibrant NEO process is an attempt to help the residents of Northeast Ohio define what we want for the future, and then determine what choices we need to make in order to get to the future. 
The first round of workshops in early May helped to define a baseline for discussion – i.e. what will Northeast Ohio look like in 2040 is we continue our currents trends.  (You can learn more about these findings here.)
We gathered input from residents at those workshops, and later through ImagineMyNEO, our online planning tool which is still open for use.  That input has helped us create Alternative Scenarios that you can view and discuss at our Open Houses.  These scenarios help us see what can happen in the future if we make different choices now.  You can learn more in this comprehensive article from Steve Litt on Cleveland.com today.   
We hope you can join us at one of our Open Houses – the first one is tonight from 4:30 to 7:30 PM at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Here is the schedule for the next two weeks.

A Letter to the Region

April 29, 2013 in Engagement, Scenario Planning

Join Us this week! We all have our reasons for loving Northeast Ohio, and because we love this region, we want to see it thrive and grow, just as we want to see the challenges facing our region addressed and put behind us.

The Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium (NEOSCC) is working to help residents preserve and build upon what we value, and fix those things that are challenging. NEOSCC is a regional collaboration of public agencies, elected officials, philanthropic and non-profit organizations, colleges and universities and community members. Our mission is the development of Vibrant NEO 2040, a vision for how to make Northeast Ohio a more vibrant, resilient, and sustainable place to live and work.

To develop that vision, we need a solid understanding of the “facts on the ground,” so NEOSCC started by convening over 150 experts from across Northeast Ohio to study over 200 existing policy studies and planning documents and assess the region’s demographic trends and development patterns over the past 4 decades.

The picture that we’ve found, available at cat.neoscc.org, is nuanced. This region, inarguably, has a wealth of assets which are a magnet for new residents and businesses, and a foundation on which to build future endeavors.

There are also clear, unsettling and economically challenging aspects of our region’s long-term development patterns. Over the past four decades, the percentage of our region’s land which has been developed has grown by more than 21%, but our population has declined by about 7%. This means, quite simply, that as a region, we are maintaining more infrastructure and have more housing and commercial property than we can support with a slightly smaller population than we had in 1970.

The consequences of this pattern can be seen throughout the region—from weak housing markets in many of our region’s core city neighborhoods  and first suburbs to the decline of our region’s downtown retail districts and—more recently—the abandonment of shopping malls and retail strips in many of the region’s suburbs.  It can also be seen in the debates—often heated—between the leaders of long-established and newly-developing communities about how best to invest the region’s scare infrastructure resources in their respective communities. The question for the region is stark: How can we maintain the quality and economic vitality of our already-developed communities while meeting the emerging needs of communities experiencing the pressures of new development?

This region’s future will be decided by how we answer that question, how we deal with challenges like development without population growth, and by how we connect and leverage the unique assets of our people and places.  At NEOSCC, we understand that we can only tackle these questions together, as a region.

In order to create a vision for a sustainable future, we have to figure out what choices we can make now that will give us the greatest chance for success.  To do this, we are using a tool called Scenario Planning, and we hope you will be a part of this effort.

Scenarios summarize likely future outcomes based on what we know about the present and what we know about how the world works.  (Every weather forecast, for example, presents a scenario for the future, based on what meteorologists know about the current weather and what they know about how weather patterns develop.)

VibrantNEO 2040’s scenarios will tell stories about our possible futures, based on where Northeast Ohio is today and the choices we might make about how we use land and how we invest.  Our Scenario Planning process uses different scenarios to try and answer some important questions: What will Northeast Ohio look like in the future if we keep doing what we’re doing? What if we pursue different priorities?  What scenarios and priorities lead to the best potential future for our region? How do we prioritize our choices given limited resources? And finally, what does the preferred vision of Northeast Ohio’s future look like?

The first round of Vibrant NEO 2040 Scenario Planning Public Workshops focuses on the “Business-As-Usual” scenario.  It outlines what Northeast Ohio’s future will look like if we keep doing what we are currently doing – what will our communities look like, how successful will our economy be, and how much will it likely cost us, if we keep our current policies and approaches to land use, transportation and development in place.

Once we know what will happen if we keep doing what we are doing, then we can start to ask how the future might change if we do some things differently.  It’s the first step in a three-phase process that we will be conducting over in the coming months.

As a region, we face tough but important questions, and the answers can only come from the people of Northeast Ohio.  That’s why we hope you will take advantage of at least one of the several opportunities this year to add your voice, perspective and ideas to the Scenario Planning process.  The initial opportunity is just around the corner; the first round of workshops take place across the region at convenient locations on April 30, May 1 and May 2, from 6:30 to 8:30 PM.  Visit VibrantNEO.org and register for the location and day most convenient for you, and join us as we begin to work toward a common vision for a more vibrant, resilient and sustainable Northeast Ohio.

MassDot Greening the State Transportation System

April 18, 2013 in Transportation

 

Massachusetts Department of Transportation launched GreenDOT, a comprehensive environmental responsibility and sustainability initiative that will make MassDOT a national leader in “greening” the state transportation system. GreenDOT will be driven by three primary goals; reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, promote the healthy transportation options of walking, bicycling, and public transit, and support smart growth development.  In May of 2012, MassDOT released a Draft GreenDOT Implementation Plan for public review. The Plan was written to embed the sustainability vision of GreenDOT into the core business practices of MassDOT. According to the website, GreenDOT calls for MassDOT to incorporate sustainability into all of its activities; from strategic planning to project design and construction to system operation. The initiative includes greenhouse gas reduction targets mandated under the Global Warming Solutions Act, signed by Governor Patrick in 2008. GreenDOT was designed in response to several existing state laws, Executive Orders, and MassDOT policies.

For more information about GreenDot visit the website at http://transportation.blog.state.ma.us/blog/2013/03/greendot-plan-leads-the-way-sustainable-transportation.html

What future do You want for Northeast Ohio?

April 12, 2013 in ACT, Engagement, Scenario Planning

Interested in learning more about the Vibrant NEO process and the schedule for the rest of the year?  Download our new overview piece, What future do YOU want for Northeast Ohio?

 

The Oberlin Project

April 11, 2013 in Sustainability

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

The Oberlin Project is a joint effort of the City of Oberlin, Oberlin College, and private and institutional partners to improve the resilience, prosperity, and sustainability of the Oberlin Community. The City of Oberlin is located in southwest Lorain County, less than 10 miles from Elyria. In 2012, the city was named a “Best Hometown” by Ohio Magazine.[1] Oberlin College & Conservatory is a four-year liberal arts college and conservatory of music. Founded in 1833, the school counts approximately 2,900 students.[2] The Oberlin Project’s aim is to revitalize the local economy, eliminate carbon emissions, restore local agriculture, food supply and forestry, and create a new, sustainable base for economic and community development.[3]

The Oberlin Project was founded by Professor David W. Orr and is currently managed by Bryan Stubbs. David Orr is the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics and Special Assistant to the President of Oberlin College. The Oberlin Project was formed out of David Orr’s vision of full-spectrum sustainability: an all-encompassing joint venture by the City and College to create a thriving, sustainable and environmentally friendly community in Oberlin. In the summer of 2009, the College joined four otherwise disparate objectives into an overarching initiative in affiliation with the City of Oberlin: 1) Revitalize the local economy; 2) Eliminate carbon emissions; 3) Restore local agriculture and forestry; and 4) Use the entire effort as an educational laboratory relevant to virtually every discipline. The result is The Oberlin Project.[4]

Professor Orr invites all to imagine Oberlin City and College within a vibrant Northeast Ohio:

Imagine Oberlin with a vibrant 24/7 downtown featuring local foods, arts, and music, powered by energy efficiency and sunlight. Imagine arriving from (Cleveland) Hopkins airport on a light-rail coming through a 20,000 acre greenbelt of farms and forests that terminates close to a new, deep green hotel with a cuisine featuring local foods. Imagine your college reunion held in an adjacent solar powered conference center. Imagine a Green Arts District in which great college strengths in music, the arts, and drama are joined to those in the sciences as the backdrop for performances, exhibitions, lectures, and an ongoing conversation on the most important issues on the human agenda, all having to do with whether and how civilization might endure and flourish in radically altered biophysical conditions.[5]

Additional information about The Oberlin Project is available through their website: http://www.oberlinproject.org/. This site includes opportunities to provide support, become better engaged, and read blogs and media updates. Questions about the Project may be directed to either Managing Director Bryan Stubbs (Bryan.Stubbs@oberlin.edu) or Assistant Director Heather Adelman (hadelman@oberlinproject.org).


[1] http://www.ohiomagazine.com/Main/Articles/Best_Hometowns_2012_4489.aspx

[2] http://new.oberlin.edu/about/index.dot

[3] http://www.oberlinproject.org/

[4] http://www.oberlinproject.org/about/executive-director/david-w-orr

[5] Ibid.

Keep Akron Beautiful Initiative

April 9, 2013 in ACT, Quality Connected Places

Keep Akron Beautiful is encouraging all area residents to get involved in the 2013 Great American Cleanup™, by participating in the 32nd annual Clean Up Akron Month during April 2013. This year, we are cleaning up for an entire month, with the culmination event taking place on SUPER SATURDAY, April 27, 2013 at the Akron Zoological Park. We look forward to cleaning up with you, your civic groups and your families in April.

For 32 years Keep Akron Beautiful has been working to recruit thousands of civic-minded volunteers to adopt a public parcel of land to clean during Clean Up Akr
on Week. This year, Akron volunteers will be joined by volunteers from 1,200 affiliates of Keep America Beautiful around the country to participate in the Keep America Beautiful Great American Cleanup, the nation’s largest community improvement program that harnesses 4 million volunteers to build vibrant communities. Each year, we engage volunteers to take action in our community through programs that deliver positive and lasting impact through events focused on waste reduction, recycling, beautification and community greening

Imagine MyNEO!

April 2, 2013 in Communications, Engagement, News, Sustainability

In May, NEOSCC will be launching an on-line engagement tool entitled Imagine MyNEO! Based on an open source software called Crowd Gauge, Imagine MyNEO! will allow the entire region to share their priorities with the Vibrant NEO process.
As an introduction to the new tool, we have included an article by Sarah Madden of Sasaki Associates (our Scenario Planning consultant).  It includes background about the creation of the tool and some examples of its previous use.

Gauge the values, priorities and preferences of the crowd.

by Sarah Madden, Sasaki Associates

Web-based technology can help planners promote literacy about planning issues and increase public engagement. We already deploy sophisticated data analysis and modeling tools, but many of these tools are more suitable for back-of-house number crunching than for interactive public engagement. This divide between tools for technicians and tools for engagement is significant:  despite all of the public- and client-facing communication work we do, few of today’s data modeling or scenario planning tools were built to be inviting to lay audiences. We need to apply our technological design prowess to facilitating interaction and better engaging the very people our work supports.

Faced with the challenge of engaging people across a spread-out region, Sasaki, PlaceMatters, and the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (DMAMPO) partnered to build a new tool—called CrowdGauge—to help communities achieve better public participation and understanding of trade-offs. CrowdGauge is an open-source framework for creating educational online games. It first asks users to rank a set of priorities, then demonstrates how a series of actions and policies might impact those priorities. The third part of the sequence gives users a limited number of coins, asking them to put that money towards the actions they support most.

We first developed the platform in partnership with the Des Moines Area MPO (DMAMPO) as part of The Tomorrow Plan, a regional plan for sustainable development in the Central Iowa region. The original game, named DesignMyDSM, can be played at designmydsm.thetomorrowplan.com. The study region included 480,000 residents, 17 cities, approximately 540 square miles, and parts of four counties—requiring an outreach strategy that went beyond in-person open houses and workshops. DesignMyDSM captured over 1000 unique users in the region, and was especially effective in the under-40 demographics who typically would not have participated in a traditional community engagement process.

CrowdGauge is entirely open-source and available under the permissive MIT license. Currently, Sasaki is preparing to apply the CrowdGauge platform to the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium Initiative (NEOSCC) in spring 2013, and Denver-based PlaceMatters is beta testing the software for use on other HUD-funded regional planning projects.

As web-based technologies grow in both functionality and beauty, planners have the opportunity to create new places for people to enjoy expressing ideas, solving problems, and realizing goals. Most importantly for planners, web technologies offer the opportunity to help ask interesting questions and confront tradeoffs. Visual design, information architecture, and usability are increasingly important to match the strength of our technical muscle with the complexity of the human experience—which means designing with clarity and user experience in mind.

In the spirit of open source, we are pleased to share this front-end tool with the planning community. We are excited to see the clever applications and brilliant new iterations we will all build next.

 

Credits for information and photo/graphics: 
Sarah Madden, Sasaki
smadden@sasaki.com
crowdgauge.org
designmydsm.thetomorrowplan.com

 

Share: What makes Northeast Ohio Vibrant?

March 20, 2013 in Engagement, News

Lakewood Beach

The story of the Northeast Ohio region begins with you. What makes Northeast Ohio special for you? What would you change if you could? MyVibrantNEO is an opportunity for local residents to share their experiences with NEOSCC and the broader region. Submissions can be in many formats, including photos, videos, essays, songs, poems, and more!
Northeast Ohio is your region, and it’s important for you to share why you love it and what you would improve. Using your input, we can gain further understanding of what we can do to encourage a more vibrant and sustainable future for Northeast Ohio. We would love for you to be involved in this ongoing conversation!

 

NEOSCC has already received some submissions, but it’s not too late to let your voice be heard! Some of the submissions thus far include photos of locals enjoying the Mahoning Riverfest, the sunset at Lakewood Park, and locals enjoying a canoe excursion at the Trumbull Canoe Trails Club Picnic. Submissions will be displayed on NEOSCC’s website, and the best submissions will become a part of NEOSCC’s ongoing engagement campaign! And, of course, you will be credited whenever your submission is used.

To view the submission gallery or upload your entry click here.

Share your piece of Northeast Ohio with NEOSCC, and tell the region what you love about your community!

What Can I Do Today?

Thriving Communities Institute: From Vacancy to Vitality

March 19, 2013 in ACT, Conditions and Trends, economic development, Housing, News, Toolkiit

In 2011, the Western Reserve Land Conservancy launched an effort to combat the devastating impact of abandonment and disinvestment on Northeast Ohio’s core cities. Entitled the “Thriving Communities Institute,” the initiative targeted the reduction of vacant residential properties, primarily through demolition. These properties, according to Institute Director Jim Rokakis, reduce property values in our neighborhoods. Studies show that one vacant property on a street will significantlyreduce the value of adjacent homes. Soon, due to loss of value, foreclosures and “bank walk-aways,” the nearby homes become vacant as the disease spreads. Soon the entire neighborhood is dead and diseased, having been destroyed by this contagious and toxic process. Then the adjacent areas are infected and the disease spreads further … predictably, relentlessly, and with devastating consequences.

The impact of disinvestment in the urban core also has negative implications for the region’s natural environment. Depressed urban markets drive potential residents further away from the center and into suburban and exurban communities. The demand for housing and retail services away from the core increases development pressure on previously undeveloped open spaces and agricultural lands. The abandoned housing left behind prevents reuse of urban properties for urban gardens, parks, and greenways. Residential vacancies cause unnecessary consumption of “greenfield” land for development while prohibiting the repurposing of unoccupied land for environmental remediation; it is a two-edged sword.

According to Director Jim Rokakis, Thriving Communities Institute is already lending its hand to transform vacant and unproductive properties into new opportunities to attract economic growth, to bring green space to the region’s cities, and to support safe, beautiful neighborhoods. In working with community leaders in Northeast Ohio, the Institute has learned that urban revitalization is a process, one with many steps supported by great partnerships. Thriving Communities is helping secure vacant, unhealthy properties by establishing and supporting county land banks throughout the region. County land banks provide counties with much-needed ability to quickly acquire foreclosed and vacant property. These land banks can safely hold a distressed property, clean its title, and prepare it for a better day. The goal is to secure vacant properties – which would otherwise attract crime, lower neighboring home values, and incur public services costs – so that they can be put to better use in the future.

Additional information about the Thriving Communities Institute is available through their website: http://thrivingcommunitiesinstitute.org/. This site includes opportunities to provide support, become better engaged, and share stories or photographs. Questions about the Institute may be directed to either Jim Rokakis (jrokakis@wrlandconservancy.org) or Robin Thomas (rthomas@wrlandconservancy.org).

What Can I Do Today?