Heights First-person

'Paint the Town' to support a better Heights

I’m a relative newbie to the Heights, but I’ve quickly learned to love it here. Why? Because the community is genuinely a community. 

The vast majority of businesses here are locally owned, the neighborhoods are close-knit, and the level of social engagement by residents is truly impressive. That community spirit—along with reaching a point in life where I had time to volunteer for things—motivated me to find a way to try to give back. 

This is how I found myself as a volunteer for FutureHeights, meeting awesome new people and helping plan a very cool event: The Future Heights “Paint the Town” fundraiser, taking place on Saturday, July 13, 5–9 p.m.

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Volume 17, Issue 7, Posted 8:02 AM, 06.26.2024

People have the power to impact their environment

It was a sunny and mild Sunday on Glendon Road in University Heights, and I watched various neighbors using electric leaf blowers and/or lawn mowers on their lawns and gardens throughout the day. The loudest sounds were from the Northern Cardinals singing their familiar song. I decided to ask a couple of my neighbors what led them to change from gas-powered lawn care to electric yard tools.

The first neighbor and I spoke for some time over our picket fence. He shared his feelings about keeping a natural, chemical-free yard, citing the safety of grandchildren and animals. "I can live with some weeds," he said. This neighbor composts in his backyard and uses an electric leaf blower and trimmer. 

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Volume 17, Issue 7, Posted 8:08 AM, 06.26.2024

CH council leaders report on first 100 days

As the newly elected president (Tony Cuda) and vice president (Davida Russell) of Cleveland Heights City Council, we would like to present our report detailing our first 100 days in office. Since assuming our new roles on council, we have held four neighborhood meetings, changed the legislative process, changed the legislative schedule to give council members more time to prepare for meetings, and passed some very important legislation.

We listened carefully to residents’ concerns about safety issues, including crime, lack of police presence, and rampant speeding and running of stop signs. We also heard a lot about the lack of code enforcement in our residential neighborhoods, as well as the condition of some of our ailing business districts. There was also much angst about the general maintenance of our streets and parking garages.

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Volume 17, Issue 5, Posted 9:53 AM, 04.29.2024

CH court ensures compliance in housing violations

In 2023, the city of Cleveland Heights filed 97 criminal housing violation cases with the CH Municipal Court. Like all criminal cases, the city has complete discretion in deciding whether to bring a criminal charge and the nature of the charge to bring. Once that discretion is exercised, however, the control of the case shifts from the City to the Court. In a criminal case, if a finding of guilt is made, it is the judge’s responsibility to determine the appropriate sanction.

The severity of the maximum penalty depends on the nature of the charge and how it is charged. For the code violation cases filed by the city last year, the maximum penalty for an individual was a $1,000 fine and six months in jail, and the maximum penalty for an entity was a $5,000 fine. Although punishment may be warranted, [as CH Municipal Court Judge] I emphasize compliance with code requirements as the primary goal of criminal prosecution; we, as a community, are best served when properties are repaired, rehabilitated, and maintained.

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Volume 17, Issue 5, Posted 9:47 AM, 04.29.2024

Theoretical 'Sharemow' concept has potential

In the March issue, I described my family’s journey from a “tidy” yard, to a lawn full of violets. I described how these violets feed rabbits, and how these rabbits feed red-tailed hawks. Thinking about lawn care inspired me to bring the topic to a 200-student class I teach at CWRU. In the class, students considered a theoretical business concept called “ShareMow." 

The premise: Why should every household purchase expensive yard maintenance equipment used for an hour or less a couple times per month? Could sharing quiet, emissions-free electric lawn mowers and leaf blowers be a viable alternative with multiple benefits to the community?

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Volume 17, Issue 4, Posted 10:50 AM, 03.28.2024

The story of our beautifully untidy yard

How did I come to have an untidy yard with beds full of leaves and a lawn sporting dandelions? It all started with violets . . .

We moved to Cleveland Heights in 2006, buying a house in the neighborhood between Cedar/Fairmount and Coventry. The house came with a lawn. Not knowing the options, we simply did what our neighbors did: hire a company to take care of it. They used riding lawn mowers and gas-powered leaf blowers. They sprayed herbicides and mulched. The aesthetic was what I’d describe as “tidy.” Tidy beds with only a few neatly mulched plants, tidy lawn with nothing but grass, tidy pavements with no evidence of their work.

I began to feel a conflict between the way I understand ecosystems, and what I saw in my yard.

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Volume 17, Issue 3, Posted 2:58 PM, 02.28.2024

Nature's way

Lately, I have been listening to a song written in 1970 by Randy California, lead guitarist from the group Spirit, a grossly underrated group from that era. The words "Nature's Way" float through my brain each day . . . “it's nature's way of receiving you; it's nature's way of retrieving you; it's nature's way of telling you something's wrong.”

We humans are interconnected with the natural world. Each affects the other. Nature receives us with beauty and wonder. It shares with us its clouds and mountains. We survive on its water, its land, its bounty of nourishment. Nature doesn't care what we look like or what we believe. It does care about what humans do to it, though.

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Volume 17, Issue 1, Posted 11:28 AM, 12.28.2023

Charred squash and community bonds make for a memorable Giving Tuesday

It's almost a new year, but my mind wanders back to the warmth and camaraderie of Giving Tuesday. Amid the numerous requests from worthy causes, 2023’s Giving Tuesday took an unexpected turn for me and my business partner, Denise Shepherd: an invitation from FutureHeights for an unforgettable dinner, a unique way of expressing gratitude for our support.

As a realtor with a background in nonprofit fundraising, the importance of this day resonates with me more than most. Join me on a journey back to that memorable night with FutureHeights, Chef Rasul, and the vibrant community of Cleveland Heights.

The evening was hosted by Matt Katz and Steven Sokany in their beautiful and historic home.

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Volume 17, Issue 1, Posted 4:07 PM, 12.18.2023

Author and Disney animator credits CH upbringing

My career in the arts and animation has taken me from Cleveland to China. Although I reside half a world away in Taipei, my upbringing in Cleveland Heights continues to influence my life and inform my work.

Growing up in Cleveland Heights came with many advantages that I once took for granted but increasingly appreciate with time and distance. One of my favorite things is to show my overseas friends satellite views of our family home on Corydon Road, where all you can see are trees. Nothing was more wonderous than simply stepping outside into nature within an urban environment.

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Volume 16, Issue 10, Posted 10:14 AM, 09.29.2023

'Eyes on the street' in Cleveland Heights

A favorite saying of Jane Jacobs, author of the 1961 book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, was “eyes on the street,” which is the activity taking place in city streets that keeps the movement and security of the street intact. 

A recent incident on the sidewalk in front of the house next door to mine has shown that my immediate area has eyes on the street. 

One late morning I went out the front door to unhook our dog, Jax, who was in the backyard, and return him indoors via the driveway and front door. Though I had just left the house the same way a couple minutes earlier, this time there was a toddler alone on the sidewalk in front of our east-side neighbor’s house. I halted and held Jax firm on the leash. For a few moments I stood wondering what to do about this little boy on the loose.

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Volume 16, Issue 10, Posted 10:10 AM, 09.29.2023

FH intern Bryce Beard takes on new roles this summer

I am Bryce Beard, a new intern at FutureHeights, and soon to be a junior at Gilmour Academy.

The internship was made possible through Cleveland-based Youth Opportunities Unlimited (Y.O.U.). On my very first day at the FutureHeights office, Kristine Pagsuyoin, the executive director of FutureHeights and publisher of the Heights Observer, asked me to write about myself and outline in this article what I’ll be working on as a summer intern. 

In my first week, beginning July 17, my first assignment was to write this piece.

I have already learned that writing for a newspaper is completely different from writing for a school project.

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Volume 16, Issue 8, Posted 10:09 AM, 07.24.2023

Two congregations consider next chapters

On April 30, Halldor Gudmundsson, pastor of Church of the Redeemer (United Methodist Church) on South Taylor Road in Cleveland Heights, invited me, minister of Heights Christian Church (Christian Church/Disciples of Christ) on Coventry Road in Shaker Heights, to share my experience with the congregation I serve, and decisions made in recent years regarding the church's future.

Heights Christian’s moderator (lay leader) Lynda Ackerman, and vice-moderator (and Cleveland Heights resident) Jane Troha, attended as well, and shared their learnings with the congregation during coffee hour.

Members of both congregations discovered the two churches have much in common. 

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Volume 16, Issue 7, Posted 4:36 PM, 06.29.2023

CH resident and bakeries give 'sweet' thank you to Wolstein vaccinators

Maybe like many of you, I went through many emotional stages during this pandemic. It started with disbelief; then, disbelief turned to shock. Shock gave way to cautious optimism last spring and summer and fall, when we understood that we could be outside with others in a socially distanced kind of way. Cold weather and social isolation turned that optimism to a gray kind of emotion and lethargy. News of the vaccine brought equal parts hope and frustration. That’s where this story starts.

The vaccine, our way out of this mess, was an absolute blessing this winter. But the supply was limited, and the process of scheduling an appointment was fractured. With no central appointment system, senior citizens had to use many different websites to find an elusive appointment. For those with limited computer access or skills, it was difficult.

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Volume 14, Issue 6, Posted 11:56 AM, 05.04.2021

Normal and not normal

I feel like I’m slipping around on a slick surface that’s covering over reality. On this surface are many familiar things. I wash the dishes, I do laundry, I read, I cook, I pet the dog. These activities are comfortingly mundane. Emptying the dishwasher and setting the table provide an illusion of normalcy. Everything’s okay right now, right in this moment. 

But then, at any given time, I become conscious merely of my hands: When did I wash them last? What if my hands are infecting the plastic bag holding the apples? Do I wash my hands before I open the bag and touch the apple, or do I wash them after I open the bag and touch the apple, but before I actually eat the apple?

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Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 11:46 AM, 04.30.2020

What we miss

Collected here is a sampling of the countless moments, large and small, that I, my friends and our children are missing at this time of social distancing:

"You know what I miss? Thursday night baseball at Forest Hills, with four games in the meadow and four more games in the square, and people I know with kids playing all over the park and my own boys on back-to-back fields so I can watch them both at once. Then afterwards, heading to TavCo where we get an outdoor table right away because it's already after 9 and when we walk out onto the patio, my kids in their dusty uniforms and untied cleats, we see three different tables of friends who get up to hug us and pat the boys on the head (or shake their hands because they look sort of like men) and ask how their games went and then drag their chairs over to our table for another drink while we wait for our dinner. That's what I miss."

—Krissy Dietrich Gallagher, Cleveland Heights

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Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 12:32 PM, 04.30.2020