Innovators for sustainability

I was privileged to be part of the Cleveland Sustainability 2009 gathering this past August. Our goal was no less than to celebrate Cleveland becoming a “green city on a blue lake.”

The way towards that goal is to leverage the abundance of assets of our region towards practical and measurable outcomes. The future calls us to re-tool our economic engine towards a green economy. This new economic engine would bring jobs to the inner city, strengthen our suburbs and stimulate prosperity in Northeast Ohio.

Over 700 people met to discuss the future. Working parties created prototypes emphasizing local foods, land use, water, solar, and wind energy.

As the urban center of our region, the city of Cleveland should be invested in such a vision. This experience got me to thinking about how Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights, East Cleveland, University Heights and Lyndhurst/South Euclid could begin to leverage its collective assets towards a sustainable vision for our communities. How can we be part of the larger work? What can we do together and individually to show the way? 

I call on the city governments, citizen groups such as Future Heights and Heights Community Congress (and their counterparts in other communities), businesses, nonprofits, schools, clergy and citizens to come together at an Innovators’ for Sustainability Conference. We should learn from each other about what our communities are doing already to create new energy, lessen their carbon footprint, and maximize socially responsible and environmentally friendly ways of living. We should share dreams and celebrate our collective imaginations as we work towards practical solutions of the problems that confront us.

For example, I work out at the Heights Recreation Center. The other day on the tread mill I started thinking: “Somebody has the technology created already to turn my tread milling into energy to power the light and heat of this Rec. Center.” 

We have just elected new members of city councils, new mayors and new school board members. It is a good time to begin to think towards the future. In the New Year it would be energizing and positive to begin to organize such a Sustainability Innovator’s Conference and to build community across racial and political lines on the East Side of Cleveland. 

John Lentz is the pastor of Forest Hills Presbyterian Church.

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Volume 2, Issue 12, Posted 10:52 AM, 11.18.2009