The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Cleveland Rocks: From 'Mistake on the Lake' to 'Green City on a Blue Lake'
Morgan Rogers is a senior at Baldwin Wallace University pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Sustainability with double minors in Urban Studies and Sociology. After graduating she would like to work with environmental nonprofit organizations in the Cleveland area.
Cleveland, Ohio was once a booming industrial city, home to winning sports teams and both economic growth and innovation. Cleveland was doing so well it was deemed the “best location in the nation” in the 1950s. But less than 20 years later that reputation would all change.
When Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River caught fire in 1969 due to the water being so polluted from industrial waste, the event sparked national attention. As word spread about the "city whose river caught fire" Cleveland’s reputation took a major hit. Cleveland became the symbol for environmental degradation, and the city was nicknamed the "mistake on the lake." This legacy continued for quite some time as the rust belt city’s manufacturers moved out, praised sports teams declined and the city that was once considered to be the "best location in the nation" became somewhat of a joke to the rest of country—a place no one wanted to visit.
Fortunately, Cleveland has been trying to make a new reputation for itself in recent years and is beginning to step out of the smoke screen of its 1969 river fire. In 2009, the city created Sustainable Cleveland 2019, a 10-year action plan initiative devoted to addressing environmental issues and raising awareness. The goal of this action plan is to focus on a different aspect of sustainability within the city each year until the year 2019—50 years after the infamous fire. Cleveland is building a new reputation of a sustainable "green city on a blue lake" by promoting nine sustainability initiatives. Each initiative serves as the year’s theme for addressing environmental issues in the city. The nine themes are:
- 2011: The Year of Energy Efficiency
- 2012: The Year of Local Foods
- 2013: The Year of Advanced and Renewable Energy
- 2014: The Year of Zero Waste
- 2015: The Year of Clean Water
- 2016: The Year of Sustainability Mobility
- 2017: The Year of Vibrant Green Space
- 2018: The Year of Vital Neighborhoods
- 2019: The Year of People
This is the year of Clean Water in which the City of Cleveland will be focusing on the region's vital water resources. Cleveland just celebrated EarthFest—the nation’s longest running Earth Day celebration—which uses the sustainability initiatives as its theme every year as well. In the fall the City of Cleveland holds a sustainability summit that calls together environmentalists, business leaders, students and other concerned citizens to sit down and talk about what can be done to address the year’s theme. Every year, the summit produces new working groups and new organizations to tackle the city's environmental challenges.
So, how successful is this type of action plan? Cleveland has made great strides in sustainability, particularly in the local food movement. In fact, Cleveland was recently ranked seventh place in Time’s "America's Best Food Cities" for 2015, beating out notable "foodie cities" like San Francisco which came in at 19, New Orleans at 15, New York City at 10 and even Portland, Oregon which ranked 8. Cleveland is also home to Ohio City Fresh Food Collaborative, one of the largest contiguous urban farms in the U.S. at six acres.
Cleveland is even making serious strides in renewable energy. LEEDCo is planning to build an offshore wind pilot project, Icebreaker, seven miles offshore of downtown Cleveland, which could become the first offshore freshwater wind project in North America.
Cleveland has come a long way in the 50 years since the infamous Cuyahoga River fire, even hosting a sustainable celebratory Burning River Fest every year in the summer to help Clevelanders celebrate just how far the city has come. Home to one of the largest urban farms in the country, the longest running Earth Day celebration and what would be the country’s first offshore freshwater wind farm, Cleveland is well on its way to achieving its vision of a "green city on a blue lake." The city is crafting a new reputation for itself and leading the way in sustainability efforts, all the while redeeming itself of the Cuyahoga River fire as well as its polluting legacy.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Dan Gray
- Research shows that 16 weeks of a vegan diet can boost the gut microbiome, helping with weight loss and overall health.
- A healthy microbiome is a diverse microbiome. A plant-based diet is the best way to achieve this.
- It isn't necessary to opt for a strictly vegan diet, but it's beneficial to limit meat intake.
New research shows that following a vegan diet for about 4 months can boost your gut microbiome. In turn, that can lead to improvements in body weight and blood sugar management.
By Jeff Turrentine
Nearly 20 years have passed since the journalist Malcolm Gladwell popularized the term tipping point, in his best-selling book of the same name. The phrase denotes the moment that a certain idea, behavior, or practice catches on exponentially and gains widespread currency throughout a culture. Having transcended its roots in sociological theory, the tipping point is now part of our everyday vernacular. We use it in scientific contexts to describe, for instance, the climatological point of no return that we'll hit if we allow average global temperatures to rise more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. But we also use it to describe everything from resistance movements to the disenchantment of hockey fans when their team is on a losing streak.
By Mark Mancini
On Aug. 18, Iceland held a funeral for the first glacier lost to climate change. The deceased party was Okjökull, a historic body of ice that covered 14.6 square miles (38 square kilometers) in the Icelandic Highlands at the turn of the 20th century. But its glory days are long gone. In 2014, having dwindled to less than 1/15 its former size, Okjökull lost its status as an official glacier.
By Alex Schwartz
Among the many vendors at the Logan Square Farmers Market on Aug. 18 sat three young people peddling neither organic vegetables, gourmet cheese nor handmade crafts. Instead, they offered liberation from capitalism.
I’m a Psychotherapist – Here’s What I’ve Learned From Listening to Children Talk About Climate Change
By Caroline Hickman
Eco-anxiety is likely to affect more and more people as the climate destabilizes. Already, studies have found that 45 percent of children suffer lasting depression after surviving extreme weather and natural disasters. Some of that emotional turmoil must stem from confusion — why aren't adults doing more to stop climate change?