Envisioning and Executing a Holistic East Cleveland Transformation

Submitted by Sudhir Kade on Thu, 11/01/2007 - 16:26.

Years have past since our REALNEO team first presented a vision for a holistic and sustainable East Cleveland transformation at a town hall meeting held by former Mayor Saratha Goggins.  Since then, our team has pushed forward with a diverse group of advocates for positive change and today we are poised to introduce many of the concepts we originally envisioned as part of the Star development project.  

I've been inspired by some recent successes I was able to secure in the form of thousands of dollars of in-kind contributions and donations for our Star computing center and Star Incubator.  Now we'll be seeking a core of committed volunteers from both within and outside the East Cleveland community to help us drive progress.

Our recent workshop at the Cleveland Bioneers conference provided some great insights from the County Board of Health, other community leaders, and many other passionate activists.  We'll be following up with the sixteen participants of that workshop and many others in the near future to build on the momentum we helped generate from that session.  I hope this will help enable and drive new collaborative outcomes for a great underprivileged community.  

One great point raised during our session which I agree with wholeheartedly is the necessity to help inspire and activate community residents and stakeholders - the individual who raised this suggested an approach to include thorough canvassing and communication with locals to inform, educate and inspire.  I think this is especially important because many residents aren't well informed of exciting developments they may wish to participate in - and for so many years there has developed a learned helplessness mindset and servant mentality among the masses.  People also need to know about new positive change plans and efforts so they can apply skills and efforts in a way that is contributive and constructive to community betterment.  Ultimately we can theorize and postulate, but I don't feel its in anyone's best interest to simply drop a 'master plan' on a community and expect outcomes without true community understanding, engagement, and stewardship.

My thoughts are to continue building a comprehensive network map to include and build a strong base of committed citizens from both within and outside the community across sectors - public and private.  The cross and diamond model I posted previously illustrates just such an approach.  Mapping all the concerned and contributive parties is an important first step in giving us the ground from which to build.  Helping to build meaningful connections and synergy both virtually with FOSS community portals like RealNEO and physically with facilitated sessions of meaning making and dialogue is another smart strategy.  Fortunately we have ready access to global experts in both arenas.  Our connections and leadership in the FOSS community can help us greatly on the technology side to bridge the digital divide and create highly skilled labor pools.  Methodologies I've studied like Appreciative Inquiry and Open Space could be integrated with the guidance of the thought leaders who have founded and pioneered these change mechanisms - David Cooperrider and Jack Richuitto come to mind here.  

Together we can design a holistic and comprehensive way to inspire action and outcomes that are all-inclusive and significant.  We need to help inspire change from within so people aren't apprehensive about some 'outsider' intervention and include energized non-residents of the community who can infuse valuable and diverse new thinking and skills to help uplift the community in collaborative fashion.   Innovative ideas like bringing new water monitoring that segregates greywater from 'black' water and integrating state-of the art geothermal heating designs are just a couple of exciting and inspirational leverage points that can drive better quality of life outcomes.