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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.

Vibrant NEO 2040 and Scenario Planning

March 7, 2013 in Engagement, News, Scenario Planning

SCENARIOS are stories about the future.  They 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 our land and how we invest our resources.  Once we create these scenarios, we will be able to compare how successful they are at achieving our common goals for the region, judge which choices would be best for Northeast Ohio’s future, and create a shared vision and framework for the future around those choices.

VibrantNEO 2040’s Scenario Planning 

Step 1: Where is Northeast Ohio today?

Every VibrantNEO 2040 scenario will start with measuring where we are now and identifying trends that may affect our future: These include what is happening with our population, how are we using land, what policies are we pursuing and enacting, what are we investing in, and many more factors. 

Step 2: What if we keep doing what we are doing now?

The first scenario VibrantNEO 2040 will develop is called “Business-As-Usual.” 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?

Step 3: What if we pursue different priorities?

Once we know what will happen if we keep doing what we are currently doing, we can begin to ask how the future might change if we start doing things differently.  What if we decide to protect certain types of land use or choose to make broadening the different types of housing options available to Northeast Ohioans our number one goal? Each of these choices could lead to a different scenario.

To know which scenarios to create, VibrantNEO 2040 is asking people from all across Northeast Ohio to participate in scenario-building exercises that will help make sure we are focused on the things Northeast Ohioans think are most important.  Working with the information gathered through these exercises and the other ways the public can participate, we will develop a small set of ALTERNATIVE scenarios about Northeast Ohio’s future to go along with the Business-As-Usual scenario.

 

Step 4: What scenarios lead to the best outcomes?

To judge the choices we make in the Business-As-Usual scenario and the other scenarios we develop, we will need to identify Scenario Indicators, which allow us to measure and compare trends and likely outcomes in the different scenarios.  These indicators will reflect Northeast Ohio’s priorities, will be easy to understand, will work across all the scenarios being reviewed, and will help show our region’s long-term health.  The indicators that we settle on will serve as a scorecard to rate the different scenarios.  Based on this scorecard we will be able to judge the results of the choices we might make.

Step 5: How should we prioritize our choices for Northeast Ohio?

In addition to knowing the likely results of the choices we make, we also need to know what our choices will cost, and how they might pay off.  For this, VibrantNEO 2040 will develop a detailed Fiscal Impact Analysis, which will allow us to explore the financial trade-offs we might have to make to achieve our goals for the region.  With our scenarios, indicators, and fiscal impact analysis in hand, VibrantNEO 2040 will challenge Northeast Ohioans to have a thoughtful, region-wide conversation about what we really value about our region and what we are willing to invest in those values.

Step 6: What does our preferred vision of Northeast Ohio’s future look like?

Knowing what we as Northeast Ohioans value and how we prefer to prioritize our region’s choices and investments, VibrantNEO 2040 will take what we have learned from its different scenarios – what worked best in each scenario in pursuing Northeast Ohio’s goals and priorities – and build a new scenario for the region that maximizes our outcomes.  This will be the final product of VibrantNEO’s Scenario Planning: Our region’s Preferred Scenario for its future.

WHAT’S NEXT?

VibrantNEO’s Preferred Scenario will represent the best path that Northeast Ohio can take to create the kind of future it wants for this region.  Once the Preferred Scenario is complete, VibrantNEO 2040 will turn to its next step of moving Northeast Ohio down this path: IMPLEMENTATION.


What Can I Do Today?

 


Mahoning River Corridor People’s Garden Program

January 31, 2013 in ACT, Mahoning, Quality Connected Places, Trumbull

The Mahoning River Corridor People’s Garden Program, funded by a grant to the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC) by the United States Department of Agriculture, will provide microgrants for the establishment of gardens to serve as community educational resources to residents of Mahoning River Corridor communities. Groups located within Lowellville, Struthers, Campbell, Youngstown, Girard, McDonald, Niles, Warren and Newton Falls are eligible to apply. All projects must be new garden spaces, and can be vegetable gardens, recreational gardens, or wildlife gardens. Projects will be chosen based on innovative design, community impact, project sustainability, and the project’s potential for community environmental education. Training workshops will be held In the month of February (see dates and locations below). A representative of each group applying for a grant must attend one of these training workshops. In 2012, the program supported the creation of 10 new gardens in Mahoning River Corridor Communities, including community vegetable gardens and native planting gardens. In 2013, the program will support 10-12 new garden spaces.

Grants will assist community groups with the establishment of new gardens, including vegetable gardens, recreational gardens, and wildlife gardens. Grants will be awarded through a competitive process, in which grantees will design their garden project and demonstrate community support and resources for the projects. Projects must be new or beginning their first year of full operation. Projects will be chosen based on innovative design, community impact, project sustainability, and the project’s potential for community environmental education. The program will be focused on neighborhood associations and resident groups, building their capacity to respond to challenges in their own neighborhoods through the creation of gardens on existing vacant land and the establishment, maintenance, and use of community forests as neighborhood assets. All garden projects will receive technical assistance and educational signage.

For additional information on how to apply

What Can I do today?

 

Attention Developers and Investors: Smart Growth and Economic Success

January 16, 2013 in News, Planning and Zoning, Quality Connected Places

Smart Growth and Economic Success

Smart growth development is compact and walkable and provides a diverse range of choices in land uses, building types, transportation, homes, workplace locations, and stores. Such development projects are attractive to private-sector interests because they can find a ready market and compete financially. They appeal to local governments because they can be the building blocks of a growing economy and high-quality, economically sustainable neighborhoods and communities while also helping to create a cleaner, healthier environment. Some of the advantages for developers, communities, and local governments associated with smart growth include:

  • Compact development: Using land and resources more efficiently and redeveloping old or neglected areas while retaining existing infrastructure can create economic advantages for real estate developers and investors, businesses, and local governments. Compact development can generate more revenue per acre because it uses land more efficiently. It can reduce the costs of land and infrastructure for individual projects and the costs of providing fire and police protection, utilities, schools, and other public amenities. By locating companies closer together, compact development can create a density of employment that increases economic productivity and attracts additional investment.
  • Walkability: Walkable neighborhoods have well-connected streets and a mix of land uses near each other, making not only walking but also bicycling and transit more convenient and appealing. Projects in walkable neighborhoods command a price premium, earning real estate developers and investors a higher return on investment. Improvements to streets and sidewalks to make them more appealing to pedestrians can benefit local businesses by attracting more customers. In turn, local governments benefit through additional property and sales tax revenue.
  • Range of choices: People and businesses value places that bring together a variety of activities to create vibrant environments. The demand for such places exceeds the supply. Many people in the two largest demographic cohorts, baby boomers and their children, are particularly interested in lively neighborhoods with their daily needs close by. Communities with access to transit also help people reduce their transportation costs, enabling them to save money or spend more on their homes, entertainment, or other things they value. Changing demographics will likely further increase the demand for smart growth development over the coming decades; developers, investors, businesses, and local governments who respond to these market preferences could reap economic advantages.

Smart Growth and Economic Success is the first in a series of reports from EPA’s Smart Growth Program designed to inform developers, businesses, local government, and other groups about the benefits of smart growth development. This report incorporates feedback from a one-day workshop in December 2011 when business leaders, real estate developers, and economic development professionals came together to share their thoughts and make suggestions about how to expand on work in this area. Additional reports will build on this work, exploring how real estate developers and investors can overcome real and perceived barriers to benefit from infill opportunities, how decisions about where to locate will impact the bottom lines of businesses, and why smart growth strategies are good fiscal policy for local governments.Visit the EPA website to download a PDF of the Report.

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New Online Resource Provides Data for Northeast Ohio

January 9, 2013 in Conditions and Trends, News, Tool, Toolkiit

A unique partnership between three leading institutions has released a new tool that provides data on conditions in Northeast Ohio.

The Northeast Ohio Data Collaborative, formed in early 2012, announced the availability of NEO CANDO 2010+. This interactive online data portal provides information about demographic, socioeconomic, and other data that help define and promote understanding of the human landscape of Northeast Ohio. Access NEO CANDO 2010+ at http://neocando.case.edu/index.shtml.

Claudia Coulton, co-director of the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development at Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences of Case Western Reserve University, explained, “The development of the original NEO CANDO put our region ahead of other parts of the country. This update includes the latest data, has new features, and operates faster, keeping Northeast Ohio at the forefront.”

  

Features of NEO CANDO 2010+

  • Free and publicly accessible resource
  • Easily downloadable demographic and socioeconomic data
  • On-demand mapping based on a Google Maps platform
  • Revised geographies that reflect changes since the 2000 Census
  • Data from the 2010 Census for the entire 17-county Northeast Ohio region including by county, municipality, and some neighborhoods
  • Customizable reports allowing user to select certain indicators or geographies
  • Ability for future expansion to more data sources, such as birth and death records, property information, and health indicators

 

To read the full story at Planetizen, click here.

To learn more about the initiative at the Center for Community Solutions, click here.

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Streetcars resurfacing in Cincinnati, Ohio!!!

December 18, 2012 in News, Sustainability, Transportation

The Cincinnati Streetcar is an electric mode of transportation operating in its first phase on a 3.6-mile loop connecting key communities in the city’s urban core. The streetcar will be a vital complement to the city’s existing Metro and other transportation systems. The vision remains to create a streetcar system that spurs development and is part of a larger multimodal transportation system that links areas outside the downtown core and throughout the region. Each streetcar will hold about 165 passengers and will easily accommodate wheelchairs and bicycles.

The streetcar is expected to generate 3,700 trips per day, and it will provide residents using the bus system with more accessibility options. By creating denser, mixed-use development with a population that is less reliant on automobiles, the streetcar will reinforce the walkability of the City. Whether travelling to work, school, shopping, restaurants or social activities, all residents will find use for the streetcar. The Cincinnati Streetcar will connect many of the major investments in housing retail, greenspace, and commercial activity currently under way in the Downtown, Uptown, and Over-the-Rhine neighborhoods.  For more information about the Cincinnati Streetcar, visit the website at http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/streetcar/.

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Finding the tools to keep Northeast Ohio’s future bright

November 26, 2012 in Communications, Conditions and Trends, News, Sustainability, Tool

In The Plain Dealer yesterday, Hunter Morrison, NEOSCC Executive Director and Jason Segedy, NEOSCC Board Chair contributed a guest column, “Finding the tools to keep Northeast Ohio’s future bright”,  to the Forum section discussing NEOSCC, the Conditions and Trends Platform and Vibrant NEO 2040.  Here is an excerpt from the piece:

Admit it: You love Northeast Ohio. You love the people, or the history, the museums, the food, or the parks and the sports. For all of us, there are aspects of our region about which we are proud, unique qualities that make it a great place to live. We all want to see the things that we love about Northeast Ohio thrive and grow, just as we would like to see the challenges facing our region addressed and put behind us.

The Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium works to help residents preserve and build upon what we value, and to fix those things that are challenging — on a regional scale. NEOSCC is a growing member-led collaboration of public agencies, elected officials, philanthropic and nonprofit organizations, colleges and universities and community members. Our collective work will serve as the foundation for the development of Vibrant NEO 2040, a regionwide planning and engagement effort convened by the consortium to spur the development of the vision and tools that will help Northeast Ohio become a more sustainable, resilient and vibrant place to live and work.

To continue reading visit cleveland.com.

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Lots of Green in Youngstown

November 19, 2012 in 12 County Tours, Mahoning, Quality Connected Places, Toolkiit

Back in June, NEOSCC took its board meeting to Mahoning County.  As part of our 12 Counties in 12 Months Program, the NEOSCC Board had an opportunity to tour some of Youngstown’s unique assets as well as some of the redevelopment work that is occurring.

Part of the tour was led by Youngstown Neighborhood Development Council (YNDC), a multifaceted neighborhood development organization launched in 2009 in partnership with the City of Youngstown and The Raymond John Wean Foundation to catalyze strategic neighborhood reinvestment in neighborhoods throughout the city.  YNDC highlighted some of the neighborhood revitalization work during the tour.

We wanted to showcase a recent YNDC publication:  Lots of Green 2012 Impact Report.

YNDC’s Lots of Green program is a nationally-recognized, vacant land reuse strategy implemented in Youngstown neighborhoods by the YNDC and multiple partner organizations. The program engages residents and volunteers through several programs, including Iron Roots Urban Farm, Market Gardener Training, Community Gardens, Green Jobs Training, Lots of Green 2.0, People’s Garden, and Basic Land Stabilization, in reclaiming all vacant land in strategic neighborhoods, transforming the physical fabric of the neighborhood and increasing neighborhood pride and ownership.

In 2012, the YNDC developed Iron Roots Urban Farm that put 1.7 acres of vacant land back to productive use, created jobs for 7 individuals, operated a second year of the Market Gardener Training Program with 25 participants, and trained 14 young adults through the Green Jobs Training program. The organization continued to oversee 5 community gardens,and created 13 new gardens through the Lots of Green 2.0 and People’s Garden microgrant programs. In total, the YNDC implemented vacant land stabilization projects on 90 new lots (14.4 acres).

Read the entire report (pdf download).

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Redeveloping East Liberty Neighborhood, Pittsburgh

November 14, 2012 in Engagement, Quality Connected Places, Toolkiit

As part of a grantee peer-to-peer exchange in Pittsburgh this week, we were given a tour of the East Liberty Neighborhood redevelopment project.

From the East Liberty Development Corporation’s website:

Our first community plan, A Vision for East Liberty, produced in 1999, helped guide our neighborhood’s recovery from urban renewal efforts. Recognizing the success that followed the 1999 plan, we decided to come together again to include new and old neighbors and expand and refine our vision. Through a process of community meetings, a broad range of people who live, work, shop, play, worship, and invest in East Liberty shared our love for the neighborhood, our concerns, and our dreams for its future. The guiding principles below, which emerged from these meetings, will guide residents, developers, organizers, and stakeholders through the ever-evolving process of planning and development toward our community’s goals.

Over the last 12 years, 1,400 high-rise public housing units have bee replaced by 450 new mixed-income units. The neighborhood has also attracted national retailers Home, Depot, Whole Foods and Target.

Learn more about the project:

  • Download a copy of the 1999 Community Plan, A Vision For East Liberty, or the 2010 Community Plan,Many Voices Driving Neighborhood Change.
  • The dramatic changes in East Liberty did not arise from the Community Plans alone. Planning and market research studies have informed the development progress of East Liberty and the entire East End.  Access other plans and studies

 

 

 

 

Measuring Sustainable Progress

November 7, 2012 in Communications, News, Sustainability

Translating sustainability and the triple bottom line  into accessible concepts and actions has long been a difficult aspect of broadening the audience and stakeholders for sustainability initiatives.  This has been particularly true in how everyone can take action.

At its recent Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Summit, The City of Cleveland launched its new dashboard.  The new tool includes performance measures that will help to capture progress made along the 10 year initiative:

Measuring progress is essential to the success of Sustainable Cleveland. The performance indicators measure results, inform strategy, shine a light on what is working and they educate and inspire us through stories and metrics.

The framework focuses on sustainability initiatives in the areas of business, personal/social, built and natural.  Most importantly, the site highlights how you can affect these areas at home, work and in your community.   While some of the measurements have yet to be published, it is definitely worth at look.  Visit the SC 2019 dashboard site to see where you can make a difference!