FutureHeights seeks to engage residents through public forums and speakers

In addition to publishing the Heights Observer, FutureHeights encourages civic engagement by hosting speakers and facilitating public forums.

On April 1, FutureHeights will host a public forum entitled “Snow, Sidewalks and Shovels.” In the past, we’ve published articles about keeping our sidewalks clear for pedestrians during the winter, and many residents have weighed in on the importance of doing so given our commitment to being a walkable community. This year, however, record snowfalls have brought the issue to the forefront.

How can we keep our sidewalks clear, efficiently and cost effectively? Whose responsibility is it to do so: the homeowner’s or business owner’s, the city’s, or a combination? Join us for a discussion on April 1, beginning at 6:30 p.m., at The Wine Spot, 2271 Lee Road. Representatives from the cities of Cleveland Heights and University Heights, our school district, library and business community will consider these issues and answer your questions.

On May 7, FutureHeights will hold its annual meeting at the Cleveland Heights Community Center. We’ve invited Jamie Greene, principal of the Columbus-based firm Planning Next, to speak about neighborhood planning. The annual meeting is open to the public, and Heights residents are invited and encouraged to attend.

What is neighborhood planning? In the words of Bernie Jones, author of Neighborhood Planning: A Guide for Citizens and Planners (APA Planner’s Press, Chicago, 1990): "If residents are to have any impact on their surroundings, they need to develop a plan for its future, rather than trusting their interests will be taken into account and protected by those various large decision makers. If residents wish to be empowered, they need to act in a systematic fashion that characterizes planning."

FutureHeights sees neighborhood planning as the act of residents—and other stakeholders—coming together to think about the opportunities and challenges facing their neighborhoods and work out potential solutions. It’s a grassroots process that may involve city staff or professional consultants, but is not led by them. Having a plan enables a neighborhood to be proactive, rather than reactive, and to respond quickly to both opportunities and threats. It may become a catalyst for action, either by the city or residents themselves.

Look for more information about our annual meeting in the weeks to come. In the meantime, if you have an idea for a community forum or want more information, call the FutureHeights office at 216-320-1423.

Deanna Bremer Fisher

Deanna Bremer Fisher is executive director of FutureHeights and publisher of the Heights Observer.

Read More on Opening the Observer
Volume 7, Issue 4, Posted 8:53 AM, 04.01.2014