Let's Talk about Sustainability : Envision East Cleveland

Submitted by Sudhir Kade on Tue, 03/28/2006 - 23:57.

I've thought for some time about the issues facing East Cleveland, and thought deeply about the potential we have to uplift an underprivileged community by applying a concerted eco-development strategy.  Here I outline some of my core thoughts as framed by our six-sphere model:

In essence, sustainability is a holistic process, not a static, environmentally-focused entity.  To achieve sustainability - that is, the ability to meet the needs of the present generation in a way that does not compromise future generation's ability to meet their needs (bruntland) - I argue that we need to facilitate progress within each of the six spheres that holistically define quality of life and community development.  In today's posting I discuss the first of these:  Education.


The need for educational reform in East Cleveland has long been necessary.  While Shaw High School has demonstrated progress by shifting to a small-school model, there is still much room for improvement.  We are talking about transformational opportunities, and such opportunties necessitate novel approaches and innovative implementations.  I offer, via a micro-model of the six-sphere approach,  that we need to implement innovations as they intersect with Health, Technology, Environment, Economy, and Arts and Culture.  We need to bring aspects of these five pillars into school cirriculum at the earliest possible age.  If possible, these implementations should embrace experiential (learning-by-doing) models that offer students hands-on, transformational episodes.

We should look to award winning charter schools like Peter Whitehouse's intergenerational school and the great opportunities these aspects can provide.  Similarly Entrepreneurship training , with the aid of innovative nonprofits like E-City, needs to be introduced as a means of breaking the cycles of poverty that predominate for so many in East Cleveland.

In Health Education we clearly want to raise awareness, first and foremost, regarding the lead poisoning situation - with over 20 percent of East Cleveland's young people suffering from lead poisoning this is no simple issue.  Smart lead abatement strategies such as those advocated by the Greater Cleveland Lead Advisory Council (GCLAC) and the Huron Hospital need to be implemented effectively.   Other health education issues run the gamut from nutrition, to fitness, to epidemiology.

With Arts and Culture Education the opportunities are great to expose young people to arts appreciation and arts training.  This way students can identify with a favorite medium and talent can be discovered at an early age.  Programs like the Progressive Arts Alliance have proven very effective at implementing educational arts reform that makes art fun to learn and perform.

Environmental education initiatives are no less important than the rest.  Exisitng groups working in this sphere include David Wright and the
Environmental Education Council of Ohio, (EECO).  Interest has also been shared by the Earth Day Coalition, with their environmental education initiatives in High Schools.  Again, exposing East Cleveland youth to critical issues of the environment and transformational experiences that incorporate environmental appreciation are critical. 

Look for the next chapter of this dialog soon:  Education, Part II.  

Okay, Sudhir, next steps w/ East Cleveland & Education?!?

I'm glad to see you raising awareness of these opportunties. We know many people who will help drive innovation forward with education in East Cleveland. As with so much we are helping with there, it is difficult to see the map of contributors, and people who would and should like to be involved. Are you going to organize this?

You know it!


I'm more than happy to help facilitate this moving forward but the task gets all the more exciting when we find support for our initiatives from talented folks like we have been lately.  I'll help convene and facilitate progress  however I can but key information from those already familiar with the East Cleveland systems will be essential to our success.  We are working on compiling this now.  I'll be sending out a network-map building spreadsheet tomorrow to anyone interested to help determine not only who is working in East Cleveland now, but who isn't and might have great competencies to share and help apply.  Then we can build and put the map on our site for all to benefit from.

Taking the initial draft we have and refining it to implement proper best practices and key initiatives that have already been successful elsewhere will be paramount.   Input from E-City, Progressive Arts Alliance and EECO will be helpful as well.    These are exciting times!  More to come soon - as well as continuing thoughts on this plan via my blog.  Thanks!

Can't wait to help with the EC2010 mapping!

Now this is good news - there are lots of people asking for this map. Regarding the leadership of people living and active in East Cleveland, that is not lacking. I can think of dozens of great folks active in the lead and there are hundreds involved driving positive change. Add the Mayor's ability to communicate directly with hundreds more citizens each week through the Friday town hall meetings - 6 PM each Friday at the Helen S. Brown Center - and frequent rebroadcast of tapes of those meetings on the local cable channel. So start the mapping...

Sudhir, can we talk about how I might get involved?

I'm interested in health education, and in improving public education generally. Are you doing work specifically in this area in East Cleveland? I'd like to talk about what you are doing, and find out how I might be able to start making contacts in the school system... especially with middle schoolers, to talk about developing powerful visions of their future careers (so they will be inspired to work hard in school, avoid early pregnancies, etc.)

Envisioning East Cleveland

Sandy, thanks for your comments!   We are trying to implement the Education portion of this with the help of many of my friends from Net Impact and a growing group of other concerned citizens.  I'd be glad to meet with you about the approach we are taking, the network map we are building, and how we envision best making this happen.   I suggest we pull together a meeting with friends of mine already working on some of these initiatives with Shaw and other schools.   I'd be happy to work with you
on these initiatives and your support would be welcome.  Thanks!

Lots of innovations for education possible in East Cleveland

I've talked separately with people from Intergenerational School and Entrepreneur Academy and both are interested to support innovation in East Cleveland, separately or in some form of collaboration. So at a high level there is the opportunity to offer really excellent school options, either as part of the public schools or private charters.

Add CCOAL (lead) and media arts to East Cleveland education

A few other educators I've spoken with lately interested to launch programs for children in East Cleveland include CCOAL, seeking to introduce lead awareness education into the East Cleveland schools, and some media arts educators proposing an intergenerational media arts education program for East Cleveland youth and senior citizens, for some time this Summer. When you map the network, let me know and I'll add them

A June 07 Reply to an April 06 post

"...to launch programs for children in East Cleveland include CCOAL, seeking to introduce lead awareness education into the East Cleveland schools, and some media arts educators proposing an intergenerational media arts education program for East Cleveland youth and senior citizens, for some time this Summer. ..."

Did this ever happen in the summer of 2006?  I'm particularly interested in the media arts education program part.  Now that we are in '07, where is that.


Who really knows "No Child Left Behind"?

The only person I know who has actually read much more study the "No Child Left Behind" bill is East Cleveland Mayor Eric Brewer, and he's on to something. It seems the bill allows citizens to take control of failing schools systems - let the experts chime in but my understanding is it may be easier to shut down failing school systems than we realize. So, transformation may be more sweeping than a program here or there. I'd lke to discuss this when we move forward on education visioning, ASAP. Any other insight out there on No Child...?


Just after we discussed this with you, the PD had a pc about NCLB - confirming that when the standards aren't met in a community - all bets are off and the community can get radical - do anything.  Just what you said Brewer said.

Where is the beginning of this thread RE: the EC2010

I'm trying to learn this site and how to navigate it.  The thread I see above references something called the EC2010 map.  But I can not find how to find any earlier discussion comments or an overarching explaination of what is being talked about here.  So I realize I'm coming in the middle of an obviously old discussion.  But somebody is keeping this board active.  So give some explaination and background please.  Or at least a link to get to it.   I take it, based on the context, that this means East Cleveland, and possibly implies the year 2010. 

But what I want to know - and yes I see the comment about "...the leadership of people living and active in East Cleveland,..." - How many of you blogging and networking on this particluar board live yourselves in EC?  How many of you in this discussion thread are residents of EC?

And why are you all so interested in EC?  (I can think of several reasons, both good and not so good).  But why?  What are your intentions?

This thread is old, I know - but somebody define and explain what is being talked about by things like ...  "... a network-map building spreadsheet tomorrow to anyone interested to help determine not only who is working in East Cleveland now, but who isn't and might have great competencies to share..." 

  • What kind of network?
  • To determine based on what criteria?  About what?
  • Working?  What kind of work?  What do you mean by "work" in this contexst?
  • Competences?  What kind?  To be shared with whom?  To benifit whom?

As crucially important and vitaly necessary as it is, is education the sole thing worthy of attention in EC?  Especially - I might note - EC has a higher graduation rate and less "drama" then Cleveland Muni. Schools.  Not the best, not as good as it could or should be, but what makes EC more worthy of your attention then say, Cleveland?  The reason for the question is to gain some sense of what are your intentions?

In wanting to introduce all of your "new" ideas, what has been done to find out what has already been done, and of that what worked and why - and what didn't work and why?   Is that the purpose of this map?  If so, at least that is a start.  But the problem with maps - and I love them - is while they tell you what is, they don't tell you WHY.  Such as: What have the experts within EC and EC schools already done?  How are your ideas so new, so different, and so unique compared to what the experts in EC schools do every working day?  What can you learn from them?  Are you willing to learn from them?

How many of you LIVE in East Cleveland?  How many of you have your own children or grandchildren in East Cleveland schools?  Perhaps you all do, and that would be fabulous.  Perhaps just one or two.  A good thing.  I'm trying to understand who you are and what are your reasons and motivations for wanting "save" East Cleveland.  And God knows it needs "saving".  But WHY and for who's benifit is my question.

Welcome and thanks for the interest in EC2010

First of all, welcome - your postings are great and I appreciate you being part of REALNEO. This site is focused on regional economic development in Northeast Ohio and anyone is welcome to add content. The best way to find content is to search at http://realneo.us/search/node - for example, search for "Brewer" and you'll find a great podcast with the mayor.

I'm the co-founder of REALNEO, a regional proponent of Free Open Source Software and social networking (REALNEO is a free, open source software social network), and of bridging the digital divide. In 2004, Ed Morrison, the former director of the Case Weatherhead School of Business Center for Regional Economic Issues, asked me to provide East Cleveland with information technology strategy as part of the East Cleveland 2010 initiative (EC2010).

EC2010 is an ad hoc collaboration, launched by Ronn Richard, President of the Cleveland Foundation, supporting his interest to help East Cleveland. The collaboration includes Case, Cleveland State University, Kent State University, an IT consultant named David Porter, and REALNEO. The collaboration worked with your two former mayors and their administrations, and works now with Mayor Brewer and the current East Cleveland administration. Throughout my relations, I've worked most directly with East Cleveland IT Director Abu Alli (abu [at] eastcleveland [dot] org).

My staff and I have provided free technology and support for the East Cleveland virtual community at http://eastcleveland.org (an all-in-house effort by the city staff, using the same software as REALNEO, which is about to be upgraded in many exciting ways).

We also collect donated used computers and process them with free open source software (Ubuntu, OpenOffice) and give them for free to East Cleveland residents - we are committed to insuring each home in East Cleveland has a computer, and are working with many community organizations on developing enhanced computer-related education, training and workforce development initiatives in the community.

We are also working to bring free or very-low cost wireless broadband internet access to every resident of East Cleveland, completing the bridge of the digital divide. Toward this goal, we have arranged for OneCleveland to install a high speed wireless network between all East Cleveland government buildings and the Internet (in the process bringing the city $50,000 in foundation benefits and saving the city $12,000 per year in operating costs).

With this network in place, it is possible to collaborate with other OneCleveland network partners, like the Cleveland Clinic's Huron Hospital and the Cleveland Museum of Art. It also enables transformations through eGovernment, rich media, VoIP, and innovative use of technology for community building. We are also now engineering the public side of this wireless network, providing wifi connectivity throughout East Cleveland, which will require outside funding or a “business model” based on fee for service (perhaps $5/month per user). A final proposal should be crafted in the next 30-60 days.

Another EC2010 IT project, lead by David Porter, brought into the city $24,000 in foundation money to upgrade computer systems and fund programming to collect past due RITA taxes, bringing the city $ millions over years, in many cases from outside contractors not paying RITA taxes while doing work in the city.

The EC2010 work of CSU, lead by Sy Murray, also funded by the Cleveland Foundation, was what brought East Cleveland out of fiscal emergency - he is a world leader in urban affairs and East Cleveland was fortunate to have his skill and expertise to address this challenge.

Kent State Cleveland Urban Design Center's (CUDC) multi-year efforts, lead by David Reed, have provided East Cleveland with 1,000s of hours of time of planners and students developing visuals of what East Cleveland is today, and what it may be. Their process, which will be formalized with the Cleveland Foundation, involves extensive community engagement and discussion, and constant revision, all in development of documents the community uses to sell opportunities to developers and the public and private sector - CUDC isn't a developer and they work for their university and city (and other cities). They are located at Huron and Prospect and are very accessible - contact David Reed at dreed2 [at] kent [dot] edu

We all do the work we do because that is our expertise. We are helping East Cleveland because the past three mayors of East Cleveland have all asked for the support of the Cleveland Foundation, and we have all been pleased to help - that support has been managed ad hoc as EC2010, and so is not centrally documented – I'm working on putting together a more formal overview... that is what Sudhir calls a “Map”.

But, we are also working on an open source GIS mapping project that will help better plan the future of East Cleveland... for example, by cross-referencing high lead exposure risks to pregnant women, so the two don't meet. This global GIS initiative brings the insight of world leaders in mapping to focus on East Cleveland, offering value no community can create internally.

All the other East Cleveland initiatives you read about on REALNEO are bottom-up – like the mapping initiative – undertaken by great people because you and they are there. We don't control that - we encourage it. For example, we are reaching out to GE Nela Park about supporting East Cleveland sustainability. We're working with Mort November planning a community garden on the street named after his daughter, and other community gardeners are offering to help the community in other ways. Again, everyone seems to do this because it is what they do well, and they are happy to help out in East Cleveland.

In closing, I'll say it is not as easy to enable positive change in Cleveland, where there are more political battles, larger wars, and fewer empowered leaders. Deep down, everyone I know who is helping in East Cleveland does so because we see East Clevelanders take care of their city just fine, so great accomplishments are possible.

BTW: Much of the digital divide work is explained at http://echolink-org.bryght.net/, and we are starting to organize all related content at http://eastcleveland2010.org - that site is "secure" so you need to set up a new log in there - please do.

HHhhuuummmmm ....

Thanks for some background info.  I'll be trolling some of the sites you suggested. 

You didn't answer my much repeated question.  How many, if any, of you live in East Cleveland? 

You sort of answered my other much repeated question, namely WHY are folks so interested in East Cleveland.  Your answer seems to be something along the lines of being "hired" or "contracted" in some way, form or fashion to do work for East Cleveland, with the Cleveland Foundation paying a good amount of the tab.  So I guess the question then shifts to why are these larger entities interested in helping East Cleveland?  What do they stand to gain?  You don't throw good money after bad, and as good as people can be, nobody is that altruistic for those kinds of dollars.  What do the big boys see in our town that we don't? 

Yeah - it's a trust issue!  That doesn't mean people can't work together.  I just don't buy the "from the goodness of their hearts" kind of song and dance.  If it's money, commerce, and some kind of potential or some latent resource or value that needs to be maximized, then fine.  Just don't give me a snow job.  (And that is NOT personally directed at you! 'cause based on your "explaination" it doesn't sound like your doing anything other than what is being asked of you to do.)

This is further reinforced by your closing comment about East Cleveland being easier to manage than Cleveland.  That can have both its good and bad sides.  Good in that its a workable situation, thank goodness.  Bad in that we could be easier to manipulate.

How many, if any, of your contacts efforts etc. have connected what I call the "top of the hill" East Cleveland folks with the "bottom of the hill" East Cleveland folks?  There too, may lay yet another divide.


p/s - as co-founder of this site; can you please tell me where and how you can do spell check?  I see all of these icons at the bottom of the pane for formatting, strike through, justifying, and even those silly smily faces, but no spell check.  Am I missing something?  As a severly spelling impaired, I need my crutch!

"It's hard to give away money"

I learned about altruism from my grandmother, who taught elementary school in Toledo while caring for a disabled husband and raising two children. After retirement from teaching, she joined the Peace Corps, learned Nepalese and moved to a small village in Nepal to help out there, returning to America years later to volunteer for Cleveland area charitable causes until she died, poor but fulfilled. I embrace her approach to life... Happy Mother's Day, Mary Ann Edelen... you are my rock!

Regarding my residency.... I grew up in Shaker Heights and went to college at Tulane and have since lived in New Orleans and Metairie, Louisiana, and downtown San Francisco, the Marina District, San Ramon and Berkeley-area, California, and Palm Beach and Miami Beach, Florida, and Summitt, New Jersey, and Austin, Texas, and in downtown Cleveland and many area communities east and west. Work - travel - work - move - work - who cares where. Some of my family lives around Cleveland, and the rest is spread around the world. I rent an apartment in the uninspiring but convenient to downtown-Cleveland 'burb of Shaker, and plan to move again in a few months... I don't care where, so long as it's lead safe.

Regarding the "big guys", I talked the other week with Cleveland Foundation President Ronn Richard about positive change initiatives he spurred in East Cleveland through relatively small contributions by his foundation (Cleveland Foundation gave Greg Reese the $1 million and connections that made your library addition possible, and the $25,000 for your government tax software upgrades, and the $25,000 for your government Internet access, and the money for CSU's help to get the city out of fiscal emergency). He is supportive of helping East Cleveland further, and that does not benefit him at all, other than he is doing his job.

An interesting quote from the meeting, "It's hard to give away money", gives me pause when I consider your viewpoint.

This is not typical foundation-type spending - helping a city buy bandwidth, for example - but the Cleveland Foundation and Ronn Richard are not typical foundation-type. They are committed to regional economic development, rather than just giving money away. You can say that spurring economic development here benefits the foundations, in that it prevents them from depleating their funds in a growing-needs, shrinking-donor community... as the region shrinks and grows poorer more of the economy is dependent on foundation support - foundation wealth is based on the wealth of the economy - both are damaged by the current economic conditions in the region and the poor physical condition of our regional infrastructure and fabric.


To the "big boys", East Cleveland is equivalent to a neighborhood of Cleveland - Collinwood for example. What they see in East Cleveland today that they did not see in the past is a city government poised for progress.

I observe that the "big boys" outside East Cleveland have no interest in influencing East Cleveland - there are no outside forces I know of attempting to buy your land or sway your elections or appoint people to your council or boards... they're all busy shoring up the rest of the shrinking region - East Cleveland makes its own bed. And, if you don't want the support of the foundations, they are very easy to push away, and there are dozens of other neighborhoods begging for foundation support of everything from theaters to school education reform.

Bottom line, though, people can only blight property for so long before the law and raw economics come into play. To eradicate lead poisoning in East Cleveland, expect some brutal, disruptive realities of enforcement from the city and the county to deal with your public health crisis - 1,000s of your children are victims.

I don't know anyone from the top of the hill. I know many people on the bottom and I know that SBC redlines north of Euclid, and that is the type of injustice I deal with.

RE: Spell Check  - this is free open source software (as opposed to expensive, closed Microsoft-based software) compiled by altruistic programmers spread around the world - there is a spell check but it only works with Firefox, and we don't load it because so many Americans are Microsoft-victims (that is changing in East Cleveland). We'll work on integrating a better spell check solution ASAP - for now, it is best to spell check in another program, like your email editor or word processor.


It's late.  It's been a heck of a day.  And we all have to go to work tomorrow.  So I will try to keep this short.  Please don't take it as curt.

Paragraph 3 and on down really worked for me.  In light of your comment about Cleveland as more battles versus East Cleveland in one of your previous posts.  The reality of economic support to maintain and increase the economic cycle makes sense. 

Don't think anybody said anything about pushing anybody away.  AM asking why they want to come to dance.

Clarify / explain a bit more your statement "...people can only blight property for so long..."  It was just brief enough that I am not sure if I fully got what you meant.  In fact - give some insight into that paragraph.  I do get what your talking about - per your previous e-mails - that old metro areas like Cleveland with a lot of old housing stock have major problems with lead.  Its in the house, the garage, the soil, etc.  I also know asbestos is a problem - mostly in commercial buildings like the old Howard Johnson off the shoreway and 55th - but sometimes in roofing shingles and insulation.  But besides age and neglect, how are people blighting their protperty?  What other risks are there?  Sounds like demolition isn't even an option.

I'm south of Euclid and have SBC/AT&T  *&^$$@^#%@$^.  ESPECIALLY in light of the whole NSA disclosure stink.  Wish we all could get QWest.

I'm running Firefox as we speak.

Neighborhood-wide renovation, maintenance and awareness

I just took my 1-year old son to his pediatrician for his check up and he had his first blood draw for lead poison, so I'll know in a few days if he has been exposed. My apartment certainly has lead paint, but it is in Shaker where they require frequent home inspections, so the property is fairly well maintained and I expect lead-safe - the garage is another matter, and I would never let my kids play there.

I asked my pediatrician, who is tops in the region (Dr. Elizabeth Hellerstein), what presence of lead she'd seen among her patients (who largely live in Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights and further east, where lead is not a significant statistical issue. She has all parents living in pre-1978 houses test their children and in ten years she has only seen a few dozen cases testing over 10 micrograms per deciliter (which is severely lead poisoned). That is dozens of children too many, but that is an indication of the static state of lead poisoning in a well maintained environment.

Because lead exposure comes at home, family and friends' homes, daycare centers, neighbors' yards, abandoned buildings, parks and even bubblegum machines, parents are the key to prevention. Their first responsibility is to protect mothers-to-be from lead exposure - the most dangerous time for a child is while still in the womb, yet mothers are not advised against lead exposure. Prenatal vitamins also help prevent babies from being poisoned in utero from lead in mothers' bones, where lead is stored - so prenatal prevention is the first key to battling lead, and that is up to the parents.

In, on and around the home, people are exposed to lead dust and chips from the deterioration of old lead paint, which will be found in many layers in most pre-1978 houses, going back to the original construction of the home (perhaps 100 years of lead)... paint is rarely removed completely, so lead is buried and resurfaces constantly all throughout most older homes throughout their lives (and on other buildings and painted objects and structures, like bridges and even furniture). When residents do home improvements that disturb paint, that causes additional poison - picture the lead particles exploding off a power sander as bullets into a child's brain. Thus, home improvements require careful attention to preparation, dust management and clean-up.

Dig a garden - dig up years of lead runoff. Let your yard go to dirt, see the lead. If you neighbor's yard is loose dirt, there's probably lead exposed, and blowing your way.

You'll see the root of the problem in cracks around wood trim and peeling paint, so door frames and doors, windows and frames, porches, siding and other painted trim are all weak spots. Especially dangerous is the dust created by friction of windows, which collects in the sills. You won't see all the dust you track in from the dirt around your home and neighborhood. All this dust gets on you, your things, your children, their toys, and eventually it all goes in baby's mouth.

Leave your shoes outside - don't bring in outside toys.

There are test kits for lead and there are classes available on prevention, and proper cleaning and painting. The first line of defense is cleaning - super cleaning - hepa vac (available for loan from the County), triple mopping the floors and wiping all sills and other surfaces - and doing that often. Of course, everywhere you and your child go must be so clean - look at grandma's house, and the sitter, and daycare... is the park covered in dirt... do you cut through vacant lots on the way home, leading to tracking lead into the home. So many risks, which are compounded when found in a community of lead risks. East Cleveland is a community of lead risks.

Which brings me to your question about my statement "...people can only blight property for so long..." - the city of East Cleveland must do much more with enforcement. The city needs additional health and housing inspectors, a streamlined process for dealing with lead violations in East Cleveland court, and access to resources to address lead hazards on public land, in public facilities, and in parts of the community neglected by property owners and residents. The city should have point of sale inspections, and require lead free certification for rental and homeowner occupancy. Those housing units and other structures that are unsafe must by closed and renovated or demolished (and yes demolition is an option). The responsibility to make East Cleveland lead free is thus a community responsibility, and neighbors will need to work with neighbors to solve the problem. People will need to fight for their neighborhoods - pursue neglectful property owners and the city to address hazards, and keep children away from hazards when present. To even know what to avoid requires a thorough education, so residents need to get out and educated on lead.

There are programs to relocate families out of lead infested property, and there are funds and loans available for remediation, so education is the key. Without community-wide neighborhood action now, more demolition will be required in the future, leaving holes in the fabric of the community, but that is better than allowing children to be exposed to lead.

More on lead here

Check out this posting to learn a bit more about lead... http://realneo.us/HARMFUL-AMOUNTS-OF-LEAD - and check out the many postings in the GCLAC book for expanded insight here http://realneo.us/gclac-eradicating-lead-poisoning-in-greater-cleveland.



Thing about the net is that one can act anywhere to improve society or cause a virus ruckus.
  Judy Martin lives in East Cleveland and has put her heart into the Wall of Sorrows on Euclid.  Powerful. Sad.    That wall is a very special thing about ECLE. 

There's another monument to youth killed young on Martha's Vineyard.   It's a no longer used light house which has hundreds of cobble pavers with the names of young sandblasted into the stone.  Powerful.  Sad

Does Judy realise that she is a vital component in the national struggle against gun violence?

So what where we live - check our pulse!

Wall of Sorrow -and- Do you live in East Cleveland?

If you can, try to see on East Cleveland Cable Access station - the last half of the May 5th Town Hall meeting (Mayor Brewer presiding).  It dealt with the split in the community regarding the wall.  It also reminded folks of how the wall got started.  By a woman from Euclid who's son was killed somewhere other than East Cleveland.  There are lots of claims and counter claims.  But it will be the people who live in East Cleveland and have to deal with it everyday that will decide on what is going to happen to that wall and that building.

It does make difference if you live in a place - or not.  Doesn't negate or prevent, but it does make a very real difference, an important one.  And when you come into a place you don't know, even an "act anywhere to improve society" can "cause a virus ruckus." 

    My question remains:  If you are NOT a resident of East Cleveland, then WHY are you working for change in East Cleveland?  For what kind of benifit?  (Not all benifits are immediate, obvious or monetary).  And to benifit whom?  Perhaps it is better for folks to grapple with that question within themselves before they come to the place of direct action.


I'm helping in East Cleveland because I was asked for help

I have helped with information technology in East Cleveland because someone at Case University asked me to help - I've volunteered 100s of hours of my time and that of my staff to help with this - largely working on bridging the digital divide. I do not know of anyone else in this region who cares to help East Cleveland address these problems - if you know otherwise, please let me know.

I'm driving for lead eradication in East Cleveland because I was the only person active on the Greater Cleveland Lead Advisory Council (GCLAC) who focused on your community. East Cleveland has the highest lead poisoning rate in the area, which has destroyed the lives of 1,000s of East Clevelanders of today and over the years, placing a huge burden on East Cleveland families, the city, Cuyahoga County, the region and all of society. It is not up to your one community to solve such massive problems, but East Clevelanders are either part of the proplem or the solution for the future.

Please help - you are welcome to join GCLAC, and Cleveland Communities Organizing Against Lead (CCOAL), which are now becoming active in East Cleveland through the involvement of East Cleveland residents... you are welcome on my subcommittee (Sustainability) or any other sub-committee and on the CCOAL community outreach team - email me at norm [at] realinks [dot] us for contact information.



To avoid the pitfalls of disappearing copy -  I strongly (though I violate this often) advise writing copy in a word processing program like Word or Word Perfect and then copying and pasting into realneo or any other blog site.


  OK, now we are getting somewhere.   This is beginning to shake out. 

The best way for you to find out why people from outside ECleveland are interested in volunteering in ECleveland, or anywhere, is for you to become involved with them.  You would be able to shake out their agenda real fast and determine  their motives.     But  I don't get the sense that you are interested in volunteering yourself, and you certainly don't seem to believe that people can do volunteer work and enjoy doing it as others enjoy golf.   With the ECleveland murder rate considerably higher than the state average, it seems disingenuous to kibitz about where someone is from and distract from their message while that person is trying to diminish the gun violence.  Let’s get our priorities in line here. 


 I don't have to grapple with any questions about my sincerity in wanting to have the street lights working in ECleveland any more than McDonalds or Kentucy Fried Chicken - neither of whom are from E Cleveland - need to grapple with their corporate sincerity as to why they want to be in ECleveland.  


How about Peace Corps volunteers who go abroad? Or City Year volunteers – do they need to grapple?  I think that is hogwash. 
I get the distinct sense that what is at issue in your mind is not where (town) someone is from, but rather whether or not you agree with what that person believes.  Xenophobically shutting yourself off from those around you – those over a mere city border – or those from around the world  - is a great way to go backwards fast. 


Any time you want to volunteer – say at the Shaker Lakes Regional Nature Center – where   loads of school kids from all over Northeast Ohio are familiarized with the outdoors, you would be welcomed without going through this type of 9th degree interrogation.  In fact presently there is a person from China who is offering her time to work on projects at the Nature Center.  We would all be further ahead if we were discussing specific projects rather than which side of Euclid we live on.

hIGH 5!




Breath Baby Breath

    I have a long history of volunteering.  I also have a longer history of asking questions before I get into something. 

    Have I volunteered in East Cleveland since moving back here in the last 3 years?  No.  Do I want to?  Very, very, very much so.  But I also have two very huge obligations right now that do not allow me to put my physical prescence directly on the front lines just yet?  (I take that back ... something very recently but that's besides the point.)

    Have I volunteered in East Cleveland in the past?   Yes, years ago when I lived here before. 

    Have I ever volunteered at anything here or else where?  Yes - enough to be awarded by two different governors.

    Was I then or am I now some big time player, a scion of a "famous" family, connected to money, or politically connected?  NO!  I'm a very small bit player - then and now.

    The question about motive is also about being clear and clean, as I call it.   Because we often fool ourselves about our own motives, muchless being ill at ease with the motives, real or asumed, of others.  In this muddled mess of delusion and fear, people don't give as fully, they hold back.  Projects get stalled and stymed for "unknown reasons".  Things never seem to jell or get off the ground.  Circumstances and finances are not the only reason for projects, programs and initiatives to falter and fail.  The "he-said'she-said-I-don't-know- about" buzz in the background, behind closed doors and rambling around inside of our own heads can wreck a good thing almost faster and worse then no money or a natural disaster.  (New Orleans comes to mind.)

    When talking about East Cleveland, the demographics do say it.  This is a poor, predominatly black community.  So what does the rest of the metropolitain community that is not poor and not black expect to gain by doing something for East Cleveland?  It might be they see a lot of vacant land that can be turned into the next hottest thing since MicroSoft.  It could be that some major something is about to be developed or built on the eastern edge of East Cleveland that the BIG MONEY wants access to.  Guess what.  THAT'S OKAY!  BUT - It's okay as long as EVERYBODY is clear that that is the real objectives, the real motives AND that everybody gets a peice of the pie.  (Please understand that those are purly hypothetical scenorios to make a point.  I know of no such "development" any where.) 

    But I, for one - and I strongly suspect a good deal other black residents of East Cleveland as they learn of these efforts - will ask the same question.  WHY are you interested in helping a community that has been so grossly neglected and abandoned? 

    And lets say you are truly altruistic - even in that mode.  WHY are you being altruistic?  WHY are you coming to aid and help?  As you said, the murder rate is claimed to be the highest in EC then any where else, WHAT - even on an alturistic level - what do you expect, what do you think you will gain by apparently risking your life doing this work?  Acceptence?  Love?  Being a Hero?  The Nobel Peace Prize?  Good Karma?  Friends?  WHAT motivates you?

    Beacuse if you don't get what ever it is, what then?

    What is it you or others want to get out of working with East Cleveland, and why?  Seems to me, if you don't know that, then you don't know what your aiming for or how to get there in a direct and efficient manner.  I'm talking both raw politics and core fundamental philosophical self awareness here.

    The question of WHY is a question that asks for clarity, cleaness, and directness.  And in a world that is anything but, we need as much of it as we can.  Other wise we will be side swiped and derailed by our own unspoken hidden motivations and buried aggendas, that will spring forth unannounced, unexpected and at the worst possible time.  As I said before - it does not mean we can't work together.  It means we have to be straight up about it.

    Besides - Is it allowed for one to ask about the nature of a thing before they get envolved?  And is it not allowed for the helped to ask why they are being helped?  If the answer is no, then it is not help, it is paternalism.

Trust is a good thing but real trust should never be blind and is best if it is first earned. 

... I must say this.  Without knowing you, thank you for risking what every you seem to be implying that you risk every time you come here to do what ever it is that you do for East Cleveland, but I find you comment about the murder rate highly offensive.  I live here, park my car here, vote faithfully here, walk these streets, shop at stores and resturants in East Cleveland.  Is my life any less worthy of concern vis-a-vie the over reported and I supspect a bit exagerrated murder rate statistics - compared to any volunteer that comes  for a few hours every few days?  You may have said more then you realize or intended about your own fears and perceptions then anything else.


East CLE A-bomb- see Eric Brewer's story at Challenger


Poor and middle-class Cuyahoga County voters have power through their votes, they just don’t have a media willing to share the intimate relationships of their friends, and to champion the causes the less connected believe are important.  Corruption isn’t over in Cuyahoga County as Dettelbach told a Bloomberg reporter earlier this year.  It’s thriving.

It is why East Cleveland residents, the city’s small business owners and their council can be crime victims and no one gives a fuck about them.  Here’s a dare to WOIO’s Applegate.  19 is honest, fair … everywhere?  Cover this story if you’ve really got balls.




And see also:



Ernest Smith for City Council in East Cleveland

A grassroots leader who has dedicated his life to "OPPRESSED PEOPLE'S NATION"....

If you have had the opportunity to meet this most dedicated individual--you know he's done some amazing work in East Cleveland....God Bless him in his fight against his local regime!

Vote to Elect Ernest Smith for City Council in East Cleveland!

Always Appreciative,