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Euclid Brewing Company settles in as local gathering spot, launches "Tap Talks"

Doug Fry spent the past 20 years working in corporate America as a chemist. Last year, he got tired of the rat race and decided to take a risk as an entrepreneur.

“I worked for 20 years for four different companies,” Fry recalls. “At some point, every one [of the companies] had been sold and gone through changes and layoffs. I talked to my brother and my daughter and her husband, who own their own companies, and they said the only kind of job security is in entrepreneurship.”
 
A home brewer by hobby, Fry and his wife, Kim, decided to open Euclid Brewing Company, 21950 Lake Shore Blvd. This past April 30 the Frys opened the doors to a 1,000-square-foot bar with a 200-square-foot tap room that houses three two-barrel fermenters and one 15-gallon fermenter that produce about 23 kegs per brewing cycle.
 
Fry’s brewing business model is based on what he and Kim witnessed in their travels to Germany. “In Germany every little town has their own beer,” he explains. “Those are the places we seek out when we travel. We’re not going to bottle or can our beer, or distribute.”
 
Euclid Brewing Company has six taps that will have some regular brews, like its Moss Point pale ale or Isosceles IPA. “Because I like pale ales and IPAs we probably will always have that on tap,” says Fry, “because it’s my brewery and I’m selfish.”
 
Other selections include a Hoppy Wheat, G.D.G.B. amber, Session Saison and Sims Beach Blonde, as well as seasonal brews. Fry will release a pumpkin ale this week, followed by an Oktoberfest and some kind of holiday ale.
 
The entire brewing system is displayed behind the bar. “If you’re tall enough you could reach across and touch it,” says Fry of the close proximity in a bar that has a 30-person maximum occupancy. “We wanted everything to be in plain view. It’s like a sculpture.”
 
While Fry doesn’t serve food, he keeps menus from the nearby Beach Club BistroParagon, and Great Scott Tavern to order take-out, or patrons are welcome to bring their own food into the bar. Great Scott just began serving its first keg of Euclid Brewing’s Sims Beach blonde on tap.
 
Fry got a lot of help from the city of Euclid to open the brewery. “Euclid had never had a brewery open within city limits before, so opening the business was a new experience for them as well,” he recalls, adding that Jonathan Holody, Euclid director of department planning helped Fry find the location and with regulatory concerns, while other city officials kept the Frys informed of Euclid’s storefront renovation program and helped with other regulatory hurdles.
 
Councilperson Charlene Mancuso also helped with communications. “She and I discussed starting a concierge service at city hall that could help parties with no small-business experience - like Kim and me - work with the city to accelerate the process from conception to opening,” Fry recalls.
 
In the nearly six months since Euclid Brewing opened it has become known as a place for locals to gather for good beer and conversation. Fry says he and Kim have made many new friends and enjoy the fact that the bar is only a quarter-mile from their Euclid home.
 
“People come in as strangers, sit at the bar and we have all kinds of discussions,” says Fry. “And then they leave as friends.”
 
That’s exactly how Fry wants it. “We have a television, but it doesn’t work very well so people are forced to talk to each other,” he explains. “This is a place to discuss ideas and that’s been a real benefit. I’ve met some nice people.”  
 
In keeping with that neighborhood bar feel, Fry is introducing Tap Talks on Thursday, Oct. 6 – a weekly short lecture series on poetry, policy, history and science. The series runs throughout October and is open to all ages. Attendees are welcome to bring their own food and non-alcoholic beverages. The first speaker is poet Dan Rourke, who will read from his book Catch Me.
 
If the series is successful, Fry says they are considering hosting Tap Talks twice a year.

Being there: MOCA's fall exhibits ignite all senses

The Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (MOCA) reopened its doors last Friday after a short hiatus following the wildly successful Myopia exhibit. While completely different in tone from the Mark Mothersbaugh show, the new installations reflect a unique and unexpected study in contrast that stimulates every sense.
 
Visitors are well advised to start at the top, as it were, in MOCA's fourth floor galleries, wherein Wall to Wall: Carpets by Artists unfurls. The contents are aptly described by the title – these are carpets, which sounds mundane at first blush. The content is anything but, with lush and gorgeous images that are beautifully served by the textile medium.
 
A sampling of the 30 works: Faig Ahmed's Oiling (2012) literally melts the concept of a traditional middleeastern rug design while Deep Purple, Red Shoes (Polly Apfelbaum, 2015), invites visitors to walk upon it, provided they remove their shoes. Nautilus shells notwithstanding, Infinite Carpet (Pierre Bismuth, 2008) recalls the golden rectangle. And speaking of arithmetic, Joseph Kosuth's L.W. (Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics), 2015, will have viewers indeed believing that "2 + 2 + 2 are 4."
 
Traveling to the next component of the 2016 show sounds benign enough, but – as regular visitors have come to expect – MOCA's Stair A refracts the experience. While attendees navigate the twisting stairs, Anthony Discenza's audio installation A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats advises them thusly:
 
"Think Suicide Girls meets the Pillsbury Dough Boy."
 
"Think Baywatch meets the Cuban Missile Crisis."
 
"Think Jersey Shore meets Stephen King."
 
The deep resonant voice, which is fitting of any voice-over John Q. Public is fed by media sources at every turn, is so convincing, attendees may indeed be inclined to plop down and listen to every suggestion within the 23-minute installation.
 
"Think art deco meets Jurassic Park."

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New business set to bloom in Ohio City

Sisters Brianna Jones and Brooke Witt believe in signs. So when they realized three months ago that each one had been thinking about starting a business, they took it as a sign they should open a flower shop in Ohio City.

“We each kind of had a very similar idea very separate from each other, unknowingly at the time,” recalls Jones. “All the signs pointed to ‘yes.’ We both believe in signs and everything fell into place.”
 
Floral design just made sense. Witt is an avid gardener, and graphic designer who owns the Etsy shop Near and Dear Designs. Jones, a former sergeant in the U.S. Army, attended art school and the Floral Design Institute.
 
“Since we both love to design, love pretty things, and love bringing joy to people, flowers seemed like the obvious choice,” says Jones.
 
So Jones and Witt started Lush & Lovely Floristry, a company specializing in hand-tied flower arrangements. The plan was to do it all from their homes – Jones’ in Cleveland Heights and Witt’s in Broadview Heights – when another sign appeared.
 
The two discovered a former gym for rent at 3408 Bridge Ave. in Ohio City. “When we started out, we weren’t planning on having a storefront,” Jones says. “But we were both looking on Craigslist and found it. We peeked in the windows and we were like, ‘oh my goodness.’ We came to look at it and it was amazing.”
 
Lush & Lovely will open Saturday, Oct. 1, in its new home. The duo is funding the business with their own savings. Witt says the airy 850-square-foot space allows for a “working studio” where they can make their arrangements. The floristry will also conduct flower arranging classes, floral design workshops and private events for things such as bridal showers, singles parties and mother-daughter outings.
 
“There will be flowers everywhere,” says Witt. “We want to make flower arranging trendy, fun and exciting.”
 
All of Lush & Lovely’s blooms will be seasonal American grown flowers. Witt and Jones will also use Ohio flower farms whenever possible. “There has been a 70 percent decrease in American flower farms,” explains Witt. “Eighty percent of flowers are shipped in from South America today.”
 
The sisters plan to buy from farms in Medina and Chardon when stock is available. “Everything is grown and cut from the field within a day or two,” says Jones.
 
Customers can buy arrangements and bouquets at the store, or Witt and Jones plan on having daily delivery to the greater Cleveland area, weekly delivery throughout Cuyahoga County and overnight shipping anywhere in the United States.
 
Jones and Witt have already formed partnerships with their Ohio City neighbors and plan on co-hosting events with other neighborhood businesses. “They’re very excited to include us,” Jones says of their neighboring retailers. “It’s very community oriented here.”
 
Lush & Lovely will host an open house on Saturday, Oct. 1, from 4 to 9 p.m.to introduce themselves to the community.

Virtual Compass recreates the tour concept, adds staff and moves to new space

Imagine evaluating possible college choices or exploring a local pub is without ever setting foot on a campus or the restaurant. That’s exactly what Virtual Compass provides for its clients by creating virtual tours of their spaces.
 
Jonathan Fox and Daniel Sullivan became friends while taking a computer science class together at John Carroll University and soon discovered they both had the entrepreneurial bug. So, after they graduated in 2014 the two set about designing an application for virtual tours.
 
“Entrepreneurship to us is making what you want to make and not caring what other people think,” says Fox. ”We focused around destination marketing to take an exciting place and make it look cool with 360-degree photos and virtual reality.”
 
Fox and Sullivan launched Virtual Compass and moved into FlashstartsStartMart to perfect their tool. “It was more of a general idea we had, making something for ourselves under our own guidance,” Fox recalls. “We thought: what if we can help people explore places they haven’t been to?”
 
That’s exactly what they did. Virtual Compass recently launched easy to use, Cloud-based software that allows for quick creation of virtual tours. The software is aimed at marketing exciting places in Cleveland.
 
The problem was, Fox and Sullivan struggled to make any sales and didn’t really know how to market their company. So they brought on former classmate Christine Fleig and St. Ignatius alum Matthew Zupan to round out the team and help with getting the word out.
 
The move helped Virtual Compass thrive. The company now does work for local universities, restaurants and event centers. The virtual tour of Ursuline College in Lyndhurst, the company's first client, is one of which Fox is particularly proud.
 
“The admissions and marketing team use it to encourage students to visit,” Fox explains. “We turn any exciting place into a virtual reality experience.”
 
Now, Fox says 10 other schools have contacted Virtual Compass. Flat Iron Café in the Flats East Bank also uses a virtual tour on its website, Passengers Café in the Cleveland Hostel is another client. The company has expanded by targeting the real estate market and other local watering holes.
 
With a solid team in place, Virtual Compass needed new office space. So this summer Virtual Compass moved to a 600-square-foot space in Tenk West Bank, 2111 Center St. Fox says they are putting in new chestnut wood floors to go with the 15-foot-high ceilings and exposed brick walls in the historic building, which dates back to the 1880s. They have also commissioned a local artists to paint a mural of the Cleveland skyline in their space.

A Place 4 Me launches 100 Day Challenge to end youth homelessness

Natasha spent her childhood in the Cleveland foster care system before living with relatives as a teenager. But when she turned 18, her family informed her that she was on her own and had to leave. With $5 and a pack of gum in her pocket, Natasha found herself homeless.

“I was very confused,” Natasha recalls. “It didn’t really hit me that I really had to leave until after I packed my bags. I thought no one really wants me. I felt alone in the world and I felt abandoned.”
 
Natasha turned to Cleveland homeless shelters before ending up in a traditional housing facility on W. 25th Street while she finished high school and got a job at Taco Bell, where the manager took a chance on her with no job experience and made her a team leader.
 
“It was difficult at first, but I managed to do it,” she recalls. “I was eventually able to move out on my own.”
 
Natasha’s story is just one story among many that prompted the creation of  A Place 4 Me in 2014 – an collaborative housed within the YWCA of Greater Cleveland that  harnesses the strengths and resources of more than 30 partners to help youth age 15 to 24 who are at high risk of homelessness, particularly those who age out of foster care.

Earlier this month, A Place 4 Me launched the 100 Day Challenge to house 100 at-risk youth in 100 days. Cleveland is one of only three cities to be chosen by A Way Home America to participate in the challenge and receive coaching and support toward ending youth homelessness from the Rapid Results Institute.
 
The Cleveland challenge team is made up of A Place 4 Me and 12 other organizations focused on youth homelessness. “This is a collaborative in the community concerned with homelessness and youth aging out of foster care,” says Kate Lodge, A Place 4 Me project director. “There are 500 people a year age 18 to 24 in Cleveland in a shelter – 100 people on any given night – and this doesn’t even count the people not showing up.”
 
Approximately 150 people age out of foster care each year in Cleveland, Lodge adds, and 40 percent are likely to experience some kind of housing instability by age 24. The 100 Day Challenge aims to not only house 100 youth in 100 days, but also reinforce the support systems to prevent youth homelessness. The challenge ends on November 14.
 
Cleveland was chosen after a competitive application process. Lodge says 20 cities applied. In addition to Cleveland, Austin, Texas, and Los Angeles were also chosen. Team representatives went to Austin earlier this month for a convening of the three challenge cities.
 
Cleveland's harsh winters, says Lodge, was one of the reasons it was chosen. “In warmer climates there are hordes of youth homeless [on the streets],” she says. “We don’t have that here. We pitched our goal, and planned out strategies. We’re really focused on helping the youth who are in the shelter get out of the shelter," she says. "It’s going to be intense.”
 
The goals include identifying at-risk youth; care coordination; establishing links to available resources; providing a list of types of housing available; and homelessness prevention through planning.
 
“This is building upon something we’ve been working on for two years,” Lodge explains. “This is going to help us get there faster.”
 
As for Natasha, she is currently living at Independence Place, the YWCA of Cleveland’s permanent supportive youth housing facility.
 
Now 24, Natasha has earned her associate’s degree in business from Cleveland State University and will earn her bachelor’s in international business in December. She says the wants to start her own business and employ young people who need a chance at gaining job experience.
 
“I want to open a business that never goes out of style, like childcare, hair care or auto parts,” she says. “Even if cars start flying, they will still need repairs. A lot of job applications say you need two to three years of experience. When you’re 18, 19, you’re not going to have that. I want to hire younger people and give them that experience.”
 
Natasha’s advice to other young people facing homelessness: “It may seem dark right now, but there is going to be light at the end if you keep pushing toward greatness,” she declares. “This challenge is really close to me. I’m really excited for the 100 Day Challenge because I feel like it’s an issue that needs to be addressed.”

New Perkins Wildlife Center is a fitting home for native rescue animals, joy for visitors

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s (CMNHRalph Perkins II Wildlife Center and Woods Garden, presented by KeyBank is a refuge for the region’s native animals and plant life, as well as the many visitors who are expected to come through.
 
Construction began on the center in June 2015, after KeyBank made a $2 million sponsorship donation to the project. The center opened on Labor Day weekend. It replaces the old Perkins Wildlife Center, which was located on the west side the museum's campus. The new two-acre center overlooks Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
 
“It’s an interpretive landscape,” says Harvey Webster, CMNH director of wildlife resources. “We want to bring people together with plants and animals that are native now to the region or were once native. What we’re trying to do is create a dynamic, immersive educational experience.”
 
The center has a meandering, elevated walk way – portions of which are made from repurposed black locust wood salvaged from the trees on the site that were damaged by lightning or dying. It winds throughout the interactive center, past everything from songbirds, sand cranes and owls to fox, bobcats, raccoons and coyotes. Even the otters, Lucy and Linus, splash and play among turtles, fish and frogs in a tank with a 50-foot acrylic wall that allows visitors to watch them under water.


 
“It’s a zoo of native wildlife and native plants in the museum,” says Webster. “It’s a dramatic landing, two-and-a-half stories high". The elevated walkway snakes west, bordering the property, soaring over MLK Boulevard and the Doan Brook Watershed. ”It’s an interesting topography to be appreciated,” he adds.
 
There are 48 species totaling more than 100 individual animals living in Perkins. Trees include beech, maple and oaks. The center will also receive American chestnut saplings, a species that has been almost demolished in this region, from the American Chestnut Foundation. The shrub swamps and wetland garden areas feature plant species native to Ohio as well.
 
There are 11 species of mammals, including bobcats, foxes, coyotes, river otters, porcupines and groundhogs. There are 24 species of birds, including songbirds, eagles, falcons, owls and other birds of prey; five species of reptiles; five species of amphibians; and five species of frogs.
 
While the species each have their own unique habitats for visitors to observe, the humans can also serve as observation subjects for many of the animals. The Bobcats, coyotes, red and grey foxes, porcupines and raccoons all have their own elevated runs along the path – over the visitors’ heads, so they can watch the people passing and indulge their own curiosity.
 
Orion the bald eagleAlong the path are “parallel play areas,” where visitors can mimic activities the animals do. For instance, visitors are challenged to “hop like a bobcat,” where a 10-foot span is marked on the path to indicate the distance a bobcat can go in just one leap. In another area, visitors are encourage to “perch like a crow” on posts of varying heights.
 
“You can emulate the animal and hopefully the animal will emulate you,” says Webster. “It’s another way to create a relationship between you and the animals.”
 
Songbirds fly through the tree canopy in an aviary, while a bald eagle named Orion and a golden eagle named Midas perch next to each other for comparison. Midas flew into high tension wires while in the wild and is blind in one eye.
 
In fact, all of the animals in the Perkins Wildlife Center come from either rescue or rehabilitation centers. Niles and Daphne, a pair of sandhill cranes, were found picking bugs out of radiator grills at a highway truck stop. "The sandhill cranes are a conservation success story,” says Webster.
 
Three of the coyotes – Tex, Red and Ember – came to Perkins after their mother was hit by a car on a Texas highway. A son of a veterinarian stopped and delivered the pups on the side of the road. A fourth coyote, Charcoal, lives separately. She was saved from a wildfire.
 
Both of the great horned owls, Tamarack and Mama have permanent eye injuries. Tamarack was hit by a car and Mama was affected by West Nile Virus in 2002, leaving her with an inability to judge distances correctly.

One of the great horned owls on display at the center
 
Linus the otter was caught in a Louisiana trap seven years ago. Both Linus and Lucy are estimated to be about 18 years old, with a life expectancy of 25.
 
Many of the animals have preschool play toys, such as picnic tables and slides, donated by Streetsboro-based toy manufacturer Step 2. The big plastic toys help provide enrichment activities to the animals. Some species have blankets and clothing in their living areas that carry other animals’ scents, which also stimulates them.


 
The Perkins Wildlife Center is part of phase one of the museum’s Centennial transformation project, which will be completed for its 100-year anniversary in 2020. The multiyear project is designed to create powerful and engaging experiences that will capitalize on the resources of the museum.
 
The entire exhibit was designed by New York-based Thinc Design, while Osborn EngineeringAECOM, general contractor Panzica/Gilbane and Project Management Consultants also worked on the project.
 
Approximately 135 people worked on the construction team. Eight museum employees tend to the center on a daily basis.
 
Tickets to the Perkins Wildlife Center are free with museum admission.

Downtown Days rolls on with a Doggy 'Yappy Hour,' art, music, yoga and fun

With more than 14,000 living in downtown Cleveland today, and more residential living on the way, the Downtown Cleveland Alliance (DCA) decided it was time to celebrate – celebrate both the residents already settled and attract those who are thinking about moving downtown.
 
So this week marks the first annual Downtown Days, a week of community-building events for downtown residents and people who just want to get an idea of what downtown living is like. The celebration began yesterday with a retail sidewalk parade. "Think New Orleans Mardi Gras parade meets flash mob meets fashion show,” said Heather Holmes, DCA director of marketing and public relations, of the opening event. And there's plenty more to come, with activities running through Sunday, Sept. 18.
 
“With the downtown residential community growing very fast, Downtown Days is kind of like the home days you see in suburban cities,” says Holmes. “We have over 30 different events and activities throughout the week, many of which take place on a regular basis on a normal day in downtown Cleveland.”
 
The action continues today - particularly for area canines, as six bars in the Warehouse District will host a dog-friendly Yappy Hour from 5 to 7 p.m. “Anyone who’s walked downtown lately will see almost as many dogs as people,” said Holmes. “The Velvet Dog’s rooftop will be the ‘wooftop’ and the Barley House will be the ‘Barkley House.’” The establishments along W. 6th Street will also have special appetizers for the four-legged friends. For instance, Johnny’s Downtown will be serving meatball sliders.
 
- For the artistic types, artist Mac Love will be creating another mural under the Main Avenue Bridge. Artists are invited to tag their own space in chalk with Chalk Stop on Main Avenue from 6 to 8 p.m.
 
- The Kimpton’s famous wine hour, open only to downtown residents, is already sold out.
 
- North Coast Namaste will host its weekly free lakefront yoga at North Coast Harbor from 6 to 7 p.m.
 
On Wednesday, North Coast Harbor will take center stage during North Coast Rockin’, beginning with Rock & Dock paddle boat racing. Chalk Stop moves to the skate park with artist Trisha Previte. The Great Lakes Science Center, which is usually closed in early September for its annual fall cleaning and maintenance, will have a variety of activities and experiments for families and children from 6 to 9 p.m.
 
- The Rock Hall will host Lower Dens during its Sonic Sessions from 8 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $5, which includes admission to the Power and Politics exhibit during the show.
 
- Regular events include Walnut Wednesday and a Take a Hike Tour of the Warehouse District. Hike over to Playhouse Square on Thursday and the Gateway District on Saturday for additional downtown tours. Regular Yoga on the Green at Public Square will take place from 6 to 7 p.m.
 
Thursday is all about Playhouse Square with a Wine Walk from 5 to 8 p.m. District bars, restaurants and retailers will offer food and drink specials. Those who register and sign up for Downtown Center Stage, Playhouse Square’s program for special offers and advance ticket sales will get a chance to win season tickets to the 2016-2017 Broadway Series.

- Chalk Stop rolls into Perk Plaza with artist Trisha Previte from 6 to 8 p.m.

 - Heinen’s will host a local craft beers and bratwurst from 5 to 7:30 p.m. The event is free but there is a $5 fee for the beer tasting. Take a photo under the store’s classic rotunda and tag it using #DowntownDaysatHeinens for a chance to win a $50 Heinen’s gift card.

- North Union Farmers Market will hold its weekly market at Public Square from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
 
The weekend is jam-packed with events, including Public Square’s first Downtown Oktoberfest, SPARX City Hop and the Indians play the Detroit Tigers Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
 
"All of our partners kind of tried to outdo one another, and it all just came together,” Holmes says of the week’s events. “It really will build a sense of community among the residents.”
 
In addition to the 14,000 currently living downtown, another 1,000 units are under construction and scheduled to be available by the end of 2017 with another 2,300 units coming by the end of 2018, according to Holmes.
 
“We should have 18,000 residents by the end of 2018,” she adds, explaining that DCA calculates its numbers based on 1.5 people per unit. “If we’re ever going to get a big box retailer downtown, we have to hit 20,000. Everyone has those nostalgic memories of retail shopping downtown.”

With latest expansion, Appletree Books enters new chapter as indie book seller

Two years after its grand re-opening on Cedar Road in Cleveland Heights, Appletree Books will be wrapping up its second facelift. With a five-month long expansion slated for completion by October 14th, the bookstore will be nearly doubling its size, all in an effort by owners Lute and Lynn Quintrell to open its doors for more artists, authors and local non-profits.  
 
And of course to stock more books. 
 
Contrary to what some might believe, indie bookstores are not plummeting in scope. In actuality, they’re thriving. Scouring over 2,000 U.S. indies, the American Booksellers Association reported last year that sellers have seen a 27 percent growth since 2009. This year, sales are up 6.1 percent since January. The organization credits the increase to consumers’ penchant for localism. A fact that culminated this April with ABA’s Independent Bookstore Day, for which Appletree and other Cleveland sellers happily joined hands to promote in what Lute dubbed a “coopertition.” 
 
And the Quintrells can back up claims of an indie renaissance. 
 
Compared with their fall 2015 sales, Appletree boasts higher profits this September, especially at the start of holiday book-buying season. It was this January’s availability of the space next door—a former tanning salon—that inched the optimistic Quintrells to go ahead with expansion. With financial support from their landlord, who owns most of the Cedar-Fairmount property, the Quintrells chipped in around $10,000 to supply the additional space with shelving and furniture (most from garage or estate sales), along with a reading podium, a fresh coat of paint for a Children’s area and a fortifying steel beam, “so the second floor won’t collapse.” 
 
Besides enabling more browsing room, Lute said that a larger store is appealing for publishers and authors interested in hosting readings or signings at Appletree, which is a bit too cozy for larger events. A bigger space, he said, could mean bigger names. 
 
“Right now it’s awfully crowded when we get a good number of people,” Lute said, recalling when they hosted same-sex marriage activist James Obergefell in August after the release of Love Wins. “We had nearly 200 people at the Trinity Church downtown, as a result. I mean, we could have never hosted that at the store.” 
 
Even with the aim of attracting more regulars, the couple is understandably nervous about the investment, considering the uncertainty of the market alongside increased rent and renovation costs. June’s opening of Amazon@Akron, the Seattle megalith’s in-person store at the University of Akron and slipping sales at Barnes & Noble, are a potential omen things could falter. For now, however, Lute’s hopeful. 
 
“People say that if you expand and offer something attractive and inviting, then they’ll respond,” Lute said. “I suppose I’ll say it: ‘If you build it, they will come.’”

Community-minded Artful lands in Coventry neighborhood

After a year-and-a-half search, the founders of Artful have finally found a home in the former Coventry School building at 2843 Washington Blvd. in Cleveland Heights.

Artful was founded in February last year by friends and local artists Shannon Morris and Brady Dindia to create an affordable space for local artists to come together and create, collaborate and sell their works. They’ve spent their first year introducing the concept of Artful to the community, assessing needs and looking for a space.
 
Now they are moving into the second phase of establishing Artful as the east side community for artists.
 
Morris, executive director of Artful, points outs that the Heights area, including Shaker Heights, Cleveland Heights and University Heights, has the largest population of artists in the greater Cleveland area, yet very little studio and work space.
 
The preferred location was always Cleveland Heights, but organizers scoured the city for the perfect home for Artful. They found the, 5,376-square-foot space on the second floor of the 60,000-square-foot former school through the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District, which owns the building.
 
“They were very helpful and accommodating,” says Morris of the school district. “We went to go look at it and we were just like, ‘duh.’ Then we brought in our architect [John Williams of Process Creative Studios] and he said, ‘this is a no-brainer guys.’”
 
Artful will share the second floor with Ensemble Theatre. Morris says the abundant, large windows and swooping tall ceilings make a perfect creative environment. “There’s a lot of natural light and peaks throughout,” she says. “It feels so open and accessible.”
 
Currently the space is wide open, with enough room for at least 17 studios, a classroom, gallery and a programming area. Artful is pre-leasing studio space so tenants can configure them as they choose. Morris says a 10x10-foot studio will rent for $150 a month, which utilities and Wi-Fi.
 
"It's so exciting, but so scary at the same time,” Morris confesses.
 
Programming will be a critical component of Artful’s mission, especially after achieving 501(c)3 non-profit status last September. For instance, Artful has been working with a financial advisor, who will conduct classes on how to navigate financials and set up a business as an artist. The organization will also work with area gallery owners to determine what they're looking for in local artists.
 
“It’s about combining ideas with businesses and the community and working together,” explains Morris. “If the artist community is healthy, the whole community is healthy.”
 
Over the last year, Artful staff has kindled relationships with the neighborhood businesses along Coventry, especially Big Fun, the Grog Shop and B Side Liquor Lounge and Arcade, as well as Ensemble Theatre.
 
“It’s good to get young, fresh-minded things happening,” Morris says. “Community and arts working together make it fun.”
 
Artist Stephen Manka, who is known for his various public art around Cleveland, is working on a public art piece for Artful’s new home.
 
Artful is currently running a fundraising campaign to raise $75,000. An anonymous donor has agreed to match $25,000 of the funds raised. If they meet their goal, Artful can operate successfully for the next year.
 
Morris is particularly excited about a Chandler & Price letterpress the group has acquired. It was hand-forged by the Cleveland company in 1899. “It’s museum quality; it’s the real deal,” she says of the vintage press, adding that they plan to use the antique. She’ll be traveling down to Roanoke, Virginia to pick it up soon. “I think it’s so cool to bring it home to Cleveland.”

Big dreams start to become reality for three miles of elevated urban trail

Plans for the Red Line Greenway (RLG), a three-mile elevated linear park spanning Cleveland’s west side and downtown, originated as a pie-in-the-sky dream more than 40 years ago by Rotary Club of Cleveland member Stan Adams and two other founders. Adams pursed the vision until his 92nd birthday in 2012.
 
Now thanks to the tireless efforts of a hard-working team led by Lennie Stover, founder and project coordinator of the Red Line Greenway project and Rotary member, the project is gaining momentum and is shaping up to rival, or better, the likes of  New York City’s High Line, Chicago’s Bloomingdale Trail and other regional rail-trail projects.
 
"Nationwide, we’re in middle of a trail building boom and we're behind most major U.S. cities in trail development,” says Stover, “but we’re quickly gaining."
 
When the project takes off in earnest in 2019, the Red Line Greenway will be a multi-purpose path along the RTA red line, stretching from Zone Recreation Center at W. 55rd Street and Lorain Avenue, across the Cuyahoga River Viaduct in the Flats into downtown at the Carl B. Stokes U.S. Courthouse at Superior Avenue and Huron Road.

"I feel like I have a masters’ degree in trails," says Stover. "Trails are now seen as the arts and cultural architectural infrastructure for getting places.”
 
The trail covers 60 acres and 95 feet of the Cuyahoga River while connecting eight Cleveland neighborhoods to within two blocks of Public Square.

“Trails don’t discriminate, they don’t care if you wear shoes or not,” says Stover, pointing out that the RLG will serve some 57,000 locals, 20,000 of whom are under age 19. “People think trails and they think walking, running and biking, but there’s also meandering, wandering and just seeing who’s out.”
 
With the July 26 announcement of the Cleveland Metroparks’ $7.95 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant for creating and improving bike and pedestrian trails along Cleveland’s waterfront, the Metroparks has committed $4 million to the RLG and the project took a few more steps toward its $6.1 million goal.
 
Other collaborative partners in the project include RTA, LAND studio, Western Reserve Land Conservancy, the Cleveland Leadership Center, the city of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and countless volunteers.
 
It’s a good problem to have – too many volunteers,” quips Stover. “We had 500 volunteers last year, 400 were first-time visitors. This year we’ve have 700, with 500 being first-timers.”
 
The RLG has hosted more than a dozen corporate and community groups, and volunteers over the past year for Beautification Days.
 
Those volunteers have cleaned up trash and debris along the property, including 100 tons of steel – collected mostly by hand, Stover says – that netted the group $55,000 in scrap sales.
 
Those volunteers have ensured the RLG’s progress. “What we have right now is very close to a world-class trail, but we have higher expectations,” says Stover. “We’re on the cutting edge.”
 
Other organizations have helped out with goods and services. Petitti Garden Center donated 1,100 hydrangeas that were planted along the RLG. Forest City Tree Protection has consistently provided pruning and tree protection services, while MTD Products donated a riding mower.
 
But the RLG still needs more help. “I need [more] loyal people, marketing people, fundraising people,” says Stover, adding that finding people who know how to operate equipment is yet another challenge.
 
Nonetheless, the team never stops looking toward the future. Phases one and two should be done in a year to 18 months after construction starts, says Stover, while phase three will depend on an engineering study and additional funding.
 
In the meantime, the team has been busy building a new sandstone entrance to the RLG and clearing a view at the top of Franklin Avenue between Ohio City and Duck Island, where organizers plan to hold a fundraiser next May 20.

“We have a great location and we’re persistent as hell,” says Stover.
 

Edwins campus completes second phase

When De’Anthony Harris was released from Grafton Correctional Institution last October, he had a new outlook on his future. And, thanks to Brandon Chrostowski, owner of EDWINS Leadership and Restaurant  Institute on Shaker Square, Harris also has a second chance at a successful life.

During his eight years in prison Harris, now 27, did everything he could to improve his odds in the outside world. “The best thing that happened to me is I didn’t have kids when I went in,” he says. “The only responsibility was myself. I was blessed that I did the right thing.”
 
Harris enrolled in Chrostowski’s culinary training class at Grafton. He also earned his temporary commercial driver's license (CDL) for truck driving, a certification in pet grooming and any took just about any other workforce training program the prison offered.

Continue reading.

Uptown Saturday Nights: live music to jazz eight venues for seven-week series

University Circle has historically been known as a cultural and music mecca, from the museums and educational institutions to music and family fun at Wade Oval Wednesdays (WOW) and entertainment at nearby bars and restaurants.

Now Uptown is moving to establish itself as Cleveland’s live music neighborhood.
 
To that end, University Circle, Inc., Case Western Reserve University and Roots of American Music (ROAM), along with eight neighborhood bars and eateries, have collaborated to launch Cleveland Foundation Uptown Saturday Nights.
 
The seven-week concert series will celebrate the roots of American music – blues, jazz, gospel, hip hop, traditional country, folk, Americana, bluegrass and zydeco, among others – performed by local musicians across multiple Uptown District venues within walking distance of one another.
 
All shows are free and open to the public, thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Cleveland Foundation. University Circle president Chris Ronayne says the foundation has been generous to University Circle.
 
“They’re really focused on the human capacity side of redevelopment,” Ronayne explains. “Over the last decade the Cleveland Foundation has helped us immensely with attention to design, transportation, transit, local jobs and housing.”
 
The idea for Uptown Saturday Nights stemmed from ROAM founder and artistic director Kevin T. Richards and Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern owner Sean Watterson. The two wanted to bring more attention to the music scene in and around Uptown.
 
Richards notes that University Circle is often associated with its cultural attractions, including the Cleveland Orchestra, Cleveland Institute of Music and the Music Settlement, but sometimes the neighborhood is forgotten for quality live music from more local artists and venues.
 
“The big idea was we don’t get much of a public face to our public performances,” Richards explains. “We saw this as an opportunity to market ourselves and make people aware of the free music.” He and Watterson subsequently launched free weekly bluegrass sessions last November at the Happy Dog.
 
At the same time, Ronayne noticed the popularity of WOW, which came on the heels of the wildly successful annual Parade the Circle, but WOW ends in August. “What we learned from the crowd is people want the music to go on,” he says of the 11th WOW season. “They don’t want it to end with the end of summer.”
 
Uptown Saturday Nights kicks off this Saturday, Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. Nine bands and a deejay will play at eight different venues. See the schedule below for a full list of bands, venues and times.
 
Ronayne says this newest concert series simply is carrying on a tradition. “Historically, University Circle has been a live music neighborhood with places like Club Isabella and the Boarding House,” he says. “Carnegie, Euclid, Cedar are live music neighborhoods and it’s bubbling up again.”
 
He continues: “Cleveland’s on a roll right now,” he says, adding that maintaining that momentum is critical. “If we want to be a music city, we have to keep building on that. We have to keep it going.”
 
The series will be introduced on Friday, Aug. 26 with additional events in Toby’s Plaza on the corner of Euclid Avenue and Mayfield Road, with EucFest, a block party with live music, outdoor bowling and corn hole by Corner Alley Uptown, food and a beer and wine garden. MOCA Cleveland will host a free LOADED Concert with the bands Form a Log, Fake Species, and Hiram Maxim at 8 p.m., as well as the fun, funky and free BOUND zine and art fair. For those who haven't seen the dazzling Myopia exhibit from Devo founder Mark Mothersbaugh, a reduced $5 admission will get them into those galleries as well as programming associated with BOUND all weekend. Uptown will also be the destination for Cleveland Critical Mass’ August Ride.
 
Uptown RootsFest, through support from the Cleveland Foundation and No Depression magazine, will cap off the Uptown Saturday Nights on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 14 and 15. That event will feature local and national bands, food and family activities at Toby’s Plaza and at Happy Dog at Euclid Tavern.

Musical Lineup for Uptown Saturday Nights, August 27

- Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern, 11625 Euclid Ave.
Matt Monta & the Haymakers, 9 p.m., Americana
 
Rebekah Jean, 10:30 p.m., Americana
 
- Coquette Patisserie, 11607 Euclid Ave.
Eric Seddon Duo, 7 p.m., Early American Jazz
 
- Roots Garden, Outdoors at 11460 Euclid Ave.
Down the Road, Appalachian String Band
 
- ABC Uptown, 11434 Uptown Ave.
Lost Bob & the Ozone Ramblers, 7 p.m., Bluegrass
 
- The Corner Alley at Uptown, 11409 Euclid Ave.
FlipSide, 8 p.m., Americana
 
- Ninja City, 11311 Euclid Ave.
DJ Knyce
 
- Barking Spider, 11310 Juniper Road
Erin Nicole Neal & the Chill Factor, 8 p.m., Blues/Soul/Rock
 
Tom Shaper, 10 p.m., Roots Guitar
 
- Trentina, 1903 Ford Drive
George Foley, 7 p.m., Early Jazz Piano

Six freelance friends transform former church space, launch Clockwork 9

After working as freelancers and small business entrepreneurs in graphic design, marketing and video production, a group of friends looked up last year and mused, “hey, what if we pool our talents and open our own company?”

That’s exactly what Chris Brown, Andrew Spirk, Eric Way, Adam Huffman, Nicholas Roth, and Dave Pelosi did when they merged their practices to open Clockwork 9 Studios in an old church office at 14305 Madison Ave. in Lakewood last month.
 
The group had worked together in various ways over the past six years, during which they had each expressed an interest in working together more regularly.
 
“One day the stars aligned and fate decided for us,” says Brown. “It wasn't a split second decision but rather a unique opportunity that we all saw as clear as day at the same time. When something like that happens, you don't ignore it. We embraced it and once we laid out our plans, we put everything in motion.”

The six-man company describes itself as “visual marketing redefined,” offering video production services to marketing and everything in between for small businesses and Fortune 500 companies alike, with unique marketing plans for each client. “We want to do something that’s never been done,” says Brown of their approach. “We want to create the wheel, we don’t want to reinvent the wheel.”
 
He continues: “We wanted to provide a place where if you wanted to, you could create a concept and see it through all the way to production,” says the marketing expert. “We offer everything [clients] need, from branding to commercials.”
 
But before Clockwork 9 could open its doors, there was a bit of work to do on the 3,000-square-foot space. The 1,500 square feet on the first floor had 20-year old commercial carpeting and laminate tile in the kitchen. The space required outlets and proper office space.
 
Instead of hiring contractors to do the work, the team decided to do it themselves. They read books and watched YouTube videos on how to create the space they wanted while also focusing on the environment.
 
Clockwork 9’s new floors are reclaimed wood pallets found on Craigslist and through local businesses. The group cut, installed, sanded and stained the slats themselves. They fashioned the desks from reclaimed wood as well. A fresh coat of paint and a hand drawn logo rounded it all out.
 
“We were using those beautiful resources that were available,” says Brown. “It was a six-week process to do the whole studio. We’re really trying to create an environment that thinks outside the box.”
 
The team transformed the 1,500-square-foot basement into a storage and hangout area, complete with darts, air hockey, a projector and ping pong.
 
Business has been great so far, reports Brown, and Clockwork 9 is forming lasting relationships with clients, including Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes, Ridgid and Coppertop Pub.

“Our goal isn't to do a project once with the client,” he says. “Our goal is for a client to continuously use us for all of their needs. To date we have had three major video projects and many small projects.”
 

Bridging the racial divide through art

The Campus District is a divided segment of Cleveland. It is divided by race. It is divided by income. And, since the 1950s, it is an area divided by Interstate 90 and the E. 22nd Street Bridge.

To the north are Cleveland State University and Downtown, full up with a diverse mix of students and business. The Central neighborhood on the southern end is predominantly African American and home to some of the country’s oldest, and once densest, public housing.
 
Like many Cleveland neighborhoods, the construction of highways segmented the communities, creating access to the rest of the region while simultaneously cutting some neighborhoods off. The Central neighborhood is one such example.
 
A group of people who live, work and go to school on either side of the E. 22nd Street bridge have come together to talk about issues of race and prejudice through a collective public art project called A Bridge that Bridges.
 
“We had opportunities for people who wouldn’t talk to each other otherwise about race in the neighborhoods, the different levels of racism,” says Kaela Geschke, Campus District community organizer. “We were crossing lines we wouldn’t have in our daily lives.”
 
The group of 17 participants, led by Geschke, ioby (In Our Own Back Yards), Cleveland action strategist Indigo Bishop and artist Gwen Garth, founder of the Kings and Queens of Art, have met biweekly since last spring to discuss race and racism while designing a community mural.
 
“We are trying to cement that racial divide,” says Garth. “A diverse group of people of different ages, races, walks of life came together to sit down and discuss the levels of racism and create works of art.”
 
Some of the conversations revolved around preliminary painting/planning sessions. “The artwork they are creating is depicting the difference between how we see ourselves versus how others see us,” Geschke says. “We did this early on when talking about interpersonal racism. The [preliminary] images did not end up in the mural but were a stepping stone for conversation. There were a lot of different perspectives, and it was a really good process for everyone.”
 
Over the past weeks, the group has been painting the mural they designed along the E. 22nd Street Bridge. The mural spans 80 feet on both sides of the bridge, yet is only two-and-a-half feet tall.
 
“The mural shows legs of different types of people walking across the bridge on one side,” explains Geschke. “On the west wall it uses words to name the systems and thought patterns that keep racism and segregation in place in the center. Then as it continues out towards the north and south end, [where] the words change into steps that a person can take to address these inequities.”
 
The group has raised more than $1,300 toward its $2,095 ioby fundraising goal. They also received a $5,000 grant from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture and a $500 grant from the Neighborhood Leadership Development Program.
 
The mural will be unveiled on Thursday, Aug. 25 during the Campus District’s E. 22nd Street Festival.
 
But organizers hope that the mural’s completion will not be the end of race discussions in the community. “It cannot be a one-and-done thing,” says Garth. “It took a long time to get there, so it’s going to take a long time to undo it.”
 
Geschke agrees. “People of all races would say race is not a problem,” she says, “but people also say this is just a start. Let’s look ahead and see what can be done. I think this is a good starting point.”

New bike lanes add to Lakewood's cyclist-friendly goal

In its quest to have bicycles be a primary form of transportation in the city, Lakewood recently added two new dedicated bike lanes along the entire stretch of Madison Avenue. The addition is part of the city’s Bicycle Master Plan, adopted in 2012 as a way to encourage cycling.

“We want to establish cycling as a main means of transportation in Lakewood,” says Bryce Sylvester, the city’s senior city planner. “The goal is to be recognized as one of the most bicycle friendly cities in the country.”
 
City officials began implementing the plan back in 2012 with shared bike-vehicle lanes, known as “sharrows,” on Detroit Avenue and dedicated bike lanes on Franklin Boulevard.  The lanes are clearly marked as sharrows or dedicated lanes.
 
In addition to the traditional bike lane markings, the new lanes on Madison implement two new bicycle infrastructure signs. The lanes will have “door zone” patterns – small diagonal lines – to mark areas where people in parked cars may be opening their doors into the lane. The idea is to reduce the number of run-ins cyclists have with abruptly opening car doors.
 
Dotted markings through intersections along the route will reinforce the fact that bicyclists have priority over turning vehicles or vehicles entering the roadway – alerting traffic, both bike and vehicles, of potential conflict areas.
 
“Our hope is to make it a safer ride down Madison Avenue,” says Sylvester.
 
The city also has installed more than 100 bike racks in front of businesses since 2012, with the aim of installing 20 racks per year.
 
Sylvester says the Bicycle Master Plan and its execution are in response to the residents’ demands. “The people have built an environment of cyclists here,” he says. “People use their bikes to get around. We’re taking a proactive approach of active living in Lakewood. We feel infrastructures like this allow out residents to be active.”
 
Lakewood has been awarded a bronze award for its efforts by the League of American Bicyclists
 
"We're doing okay," says Sylvester of the plan’s progress.
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