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MOOS teens to shake up IngenuityFest

Ten-foot-tall swings, climbing walls and a sculpture bristling with lights. This is not a description for some fantastical playground, but a project a group of Cleveland-area youth are bringing to this year's IngenuityFest.
Eleven students from Shaker Heights' Moreland district, all members of the Making Our Own Space (MOOS) placemaking initiative, are currently conceptualizing plans for the popular arts and technology festival, which is now in its 12th year. MOOS co-founder David Jurca expects his young participants' creative skills to successfully transfer from neighborhood public spaces to the festival's larger stage.
"The project's driving goal is to build confidence in this generation regarding their ability to transform their environment," says Jurca of an effort led by Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC). "At Ingenuity, students are going to step up as workshop leaders because they're more knowledgeable about using tools to build and give direction to others."
MOOS's workshops create physical and social infrastructure in collaboration with the surrounding community. Parks and vacant spaces in Moreland as well as Britt Oval in Cleveland's Buckeye neighborhood have been host to swings, snow forts, benches, observation towers and other high-visibility projects. Hildana Park in Shaker Heights has a student-built performance stage along with "trash hoops," where garbage cans are fitted with mini-basketball rims in the name of fun litter control.
MOOS swing prototypeSeventh through 11th graders involved with Ingenuity are designing mobile playscape elements like a light sculpture and a combined giant swing/climbing wall, which will be built at The Dealership business accelerator space, then transported to the event site. The creative method includes brainstorming a concept like swinging, then building out from that idea.
"The climbing wall suggestion came from a community member," Jurca says. "We went to the library to get images, and looked at playscape equipment from all over the world."
The 2016 IngenuityFest takes place in the former Osborne Industrial Complex, 5401 Hamilton Ave., Sept. 23-25. MOOS's efforts during the weekend will include on-site build opportunities for attendees.
"Students are going to take on the role of design leaders," says Jurca. "People coming for the event will be learning from our students."
Helping guide the process will be Alex Gilliam, Philadelphia-based founder of Public Workshop, a national program for placemaking projects aimed at youth. Gilliam will be in town the week ahead of Ingenuity to gently push ideas to fruition while identifying group members eager to grab leadership roles.
"These are people who want to do more and do better - and want to be connected with others with similar aspirations," says Gilliam.
Ingenuity itself can be a beacon for empowerment due to the crowds it attracts, adds the project supporter.
"Give a 15-year-old girl a circular saw and the chance to build something wonderful that meets a community need, and do it in a public way," Gilliam poses. "The effect can be dramatic. Young people will realize their self-efficacy in a manner that would typically take years in a school setting."
Ingenuity's highly visible backdrop is also valuable for a society that doesn't always recognize the contributions of teenagers and their place in the community at large.
"There's an important opening here for Cleveland," says Gilliam. "Having this (initiative) go on outside of a community building aspect is creating more space for this work in schools and other places." 
MOOS co-founder Jurca adds that the Ingenuity experience will not only prepare African-American and Latino youth for a range of hands-on design careers, it will also teach them how to define improvements in ongoing projects, where "failure" is deemed a lesson rather than a stopping point.
"It's about celebrating success and jumping into things we can do to make a project better," says Jurca. "That kind of confidence can be carried into the classroom." 

Program to offer men with cancer unique roadmap

Cancer is a life-altering experience that impacts careers, relationships and bank accounts, while also giving the diagnosed an unwanted glimpse of their own mortality. Male survivors face a set of unique challenges, among them a clear direction on how to take back the power in their lives.
If cancer survivorship is a journey, Berea resident Dan Dean believes he has the roadmap. Dean, 36, is the founder of M Powerment, an organization providing resources geared specifically toward men affected by cancer. A series of free workshops, including a two-day event, Sept. 24 and 25, at Market Garden Brewery and Nano Brew Cleveland next month, promise action-oriented, practical skills that allow participants 21 and over to face the disease head-on.
"Men don't have great coping mechanisms to deal with illness," says Dean, a 12-year survivor of stage IV non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. "In layman's terms, guys don't talk about stuff."
M Powerment teaches participants to master their internal narrative and better communicate challenges with a spouse, partner or other support person. Program framework is based on mythologist Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey, which prompts listeners to "follow their bliss," as well as the tenets of narrative medicine, an approach that harnesses people's stories to promote healing.
"By doing the work, you'll shift your energy into a more empowered place than you would be if you were victimized by the experience," says Dean, an avid backpacker and hiker. "It's about focusing on things that help you grow."
M Powerment workshops are research-based and use strategies approved by oncology social workers. Dean's road to an "m-powered" existence began upon diagnosis at age 23. Later years found him sharing first-person interviews with cancer survivors via a personal blog. Dean's mother, Caren, died of brain cancer in 2014, giving him further perspective on living a full life five, ten or 20 years after the disease is first discovered.  

Dean launched the group in May 2015, upon receiving seed money from the Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation. He hopes to garner additional funding from cancer organizations and for-profit businesses as the enterprise expands. After the Cleveland event, Dean is looking ahead to events in Chicago, Los Angeles, Denver and Boston.
Ultimately, the program founder aims to form a wide-ranging network of cancer warriors. The program also has a sense of humor. Per the website, "This isn’t a trust circle and you aren’t going to hug someone in a sweater vest. You’re going to flex your cancer kicking muscles and come out m-powered men."
"The mission isn't to be in a group circle and talk about what happened, but to give survivors tools to successfully move forward," adds Dean. "It's almost like a 'cancer fraternity,' meaning anyone that comes in with a shared experience is going to bond over the cause." 

BOUND zine and art fair to rock MOCA this weekend

This weekend, area zinesters, art aficionados and anyone fond of old school print is invited to browse more than 50 exhibitors from near and far at BOUND, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Cleveland's second annual art book and zine fair.
Free and open to the public, BOUND will take place in Gund Commons on the museum's first floor on Friday, Aug. 26, from 5 to 10 p.m. and on Saturday, Aug. 27, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Attendees will have a chance to meet and interact with booksellers, artists, photographers, poets and independent publishers from Northeast Ohio as well as from points across the country. All of them will be offering limited edition art books and zines at affordable prices. In addition, a reduced $5 admission includes access to the MOCA galleries as well as all the programming and talks associated with BOUND. There will also be live music on Friday and DJs spinning tunes on Saturday.

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CAC report tells story of how county residents connect to arts and culture

Cuyahoga County's population utilizes arts and culture in a variety of ways, from museums and theaters to smaller community festivals and neighborhood events. Recently released findings from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC) show just how connected residents are to the region's arts offerings.
CAC's 2015 Report from the Community shares stories of county residents impacted by the 210 organizations CAC funded in 2015. Self-reported data from these groups revealed more than $383 million arts-related expenditures county-wide, including upwards of $158 million in salaries to 10,000 employees.
Other key statistics from the report include:
* 50 percent of CAC-supported programs had free admission in 2015
* Nearly 6.9 million people were served by arts programming last year, including 1.5 million children
"The report provides good evidence of the story we're telling," says Karen Gahl-Mills, CEO and executive director of CAC. "Arts and culture is having a huge impact on Cuyahoga County."
Nor are culture lovers only visiting conventional venues like the ballet or a gallery, notes Gahl-Mills. Nature and science organizations, community gardens and other non-traditional entities are attracting crowds through their own arts-infused efforts.
"It's not just big institutions; we're shining a light on smaller organizations," Gahl-Mills says. "There's extraordinary variety."
This year's report also relates the experiences of community members impacted by arts and culture. One featured resident is Patty Edmonson, an employee at the Cleveland History Center, who returned to the region to curate the center's 13,000 dresses and 40,000 textile objects.
"Residents are the ones who benefit from the dollars we invest," says Gahl-Mills. "We use tax dollars to support the arts, so we need dialogue with the public to understand what work we can do."
This summer, CAC has been visiting festivals and events to get further feedback from the community. The undertaking includes "street teams" going out to barbershops and farmer's markets and asking folks what inspires them about the arts. Gahl-Mills says public funding for the arts is a key facet in making Cuyahoga County a vibrant, attractive place to live.
"People care about the arts and we need to hear from them," she says. "The more we know, the better grantmaker we can be." 

INDUSTRY event to champion 'disruptive' innovation

Disruptive innovation describes a product or service that changes an existing market while serving as a guiding star for innovation-driven growth.
This powerful way of doing business will be the focus of INDUSTRY, a conference aimed at the innovators who build and launch products. This fast-rising community of pacesetters is set to meet September 15-16 at Music Box Supper Club in the Flats to discuss the "disruptive" creation techniques that help larger corporations behave like startups.
Spearheaded by Paul McAvinchey and Mike Belsito, founders of the Product Collective media group,  the event brings together leaders from industries such as software, consumer packaged goods and healthcare. Speakers will include Google Ventures' Ken Norton and ESPN’s Ryan Spoon. Meanwhile, working sessions are expected to explore engaging ways to deliver digital and physical goods in the same nimble way as a new company.
Paul McAvinchey"Larger companies are looking at smaller businesses for new methods to ship products," says McAvinchey, founder of the TechPint networking event and director of North American client services for DXY, which designs corporate mobile solutions. "They're driving products forward based on what they hear from customers."
Product managers are leading these efforts, driving goods forward based on customer feedback. Food manufacturer General Mills is one example of a multinational company bringing products to market more quickly via interviews with consumers about various cereals on the market.

McAvinchey also points to local firms like OnShift and CoverMyMeds that employ managers to guide new offerings through development. McAvinchey adds that several large Cleveland-area consumer product businesses actively disrupt their own m.o. by employing internal teams to unearth new market opportunities.
"These companies are fast-moving and startup-focused," he says. "That's who (this event) is going to appeal to. A product formed by one leader and a large team is more likely to be fine-tuned and usable."
McAvinchey expects 350 attendees at this year's INDUSTRY get-together, with over 90 percent of them hailing from outside Northeast Ohio. Cleveland's gradual emergence as an innovation hub is a draw for industry officials who view disruption as a positive.
"In the startup world there's a term called 'get out of the building,' where a team is ready to release a (product)  and literally gets out of the building to talk to customers,"McAvinchey says. "It's a hands-on approach that lets companies understand how customers want to interact with those products."

Mentoring program readies CMSD eighth graders for high school and beyond

Selecting the right high school is not a choice to take lightly, observers say, as it has potentially far-reaching influence on future educational opportunities and even long-term employment. A Cleveland-based program is giving area eighth graders some much-needed direction on that critical decision.
True2U is a mentoring and career awareness effort that prepares junior high students for high school via goal-setting injected with a dose of career and college readiness. Last year, the program connected 807 Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) youth with 150 mentors, a figure expected to double for the 2016-17 academic season. The goal is to serve all 68 CMSD schools by next year.
"Every eighth-grade student in a True2U school is part of the program," says Molly Nackley Feghali, project manager for the joint venture, partners for which include CMSD, The Cleveland FoundationMyComGreater Cleveland PartnershipNeighborhood Leadership Institute, and the Greater Cleveland Faith Based Collaborative. "It's helping young people see their future and what they want to do in high school."
Eighth grade is a developmental crossroads for students as they explore identity issues and find their unique interests, including what they want to study beyond high school, Nackley Feghali says. Mentors selected from Cleveland's corporate and nonprofit sectors meet groups of attendees for three hours each month, following a structured curriculum that combines personal development with career exploration.

Among others, curriculum components include Naviance, a comprehensive, career and college readiness software package and Teens Can Make It Happen: Nine Steps to Success, a goal-setting and personal responsibility curriculum developed by entrepreneur and author Stedman Graham, who is also an associate of media magnate Oprah Winfrey.
"Students are being exposed to different career paths," says Nackley Feghali. "The more diversity we can bring to the program, the better."
Launched in 2015, True2U is already making an impression, its director maintains.
"CMSD has its high school choice fair in January," Nackley Feghali says. "Based on our programming and relationships they've built with mentors, students say they feel more prepared to make their decision."
The program can also curtail high student drop-out rates that occur between eighth and tenth grade. Ultimately, mobilizing an extensive network of school and community resources makes the road to higher education a littler smoother.
"Even as adults we struggle with what we want to do, so asking an eighth grader to make decisions that will impact their careers can be daunting," says Nackley Feghali. "We're focused on helping students know more about who they are and what their interests are so that they'll make good decisions for their futures and continue to stay engaged in school."?

True2U is recruiting mentors for the 2016-17 academic year. E-mail true2u@neighborhoodleadership.org for more information

Event aims to invigorate African-American-owned businesses, communities

LaRese Purnell believes the best way to improve a city's financial stability is by increasing the revenue of the businesses within it. As founder of a nonprofit bringing exposure to African-American-owned enterprises in Cleveland, Purnell has dedicated a weekend later this month to breathe life into that concept.
Awareness, education and economic impact are the themes of The Real Black Friday (RBF) event to be held August 12-14 at three separate locations in Cleveland. The initiative, now in its third year, will promote local black entrepreneurs, many of whom are already listed in a directory on the organization's website.
Restaurants, barbers, architectural firms and a credit union will be among the ventures on hand, garnering the kind of attention a lack of advertising dollars often prevents.

"These are small, self-started businesses with not much capital," says Purnell, an author and speaker who also serves as chief financial officer at The Word Church. "They've never had a billboard or radio ad. They're fighting to keep their doors open, so marketing is at the bottom of the totem pole."  
During the RBF, owners will meet potential customers as well as fellow proprietors who face the same challenges. Purnell wants African-American entrepreneurs to form a support network to help buoy national black buying potential, which is expected to reach $1.4 trillion by 2020, according to the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth.  
"The idea is to create longevity for these businesses," says Purnell. "We're educating owners about scaling up and dealing with increased traffic."
Purnell says enduring success means harnessing black spending power and influence for more than a weekend. "Flip this Biz," taking place on August 13, will highlight renovations done to Annie B’s and Earl’s Place, located at 4017 St. Clair Ave. The restaurant will not only get a facelift, but also a crash course on revenue growth from JumpStart and the RBF team.
"Flip this Biz" is the kind of outreach that drives consumer spending habits over the long term, Purnell says. Increased social media presence, meanwhile, can draw customers from outside African-American neighborhoods.
"We need to support our own, but would like the entire community to come out," says Purnell. "We want these businesses to be around for generations."

Other events include the MiIlion Dollar Movement at the Faith Community Credit Union, 3550 E. 93rd St., from 12 to 6 p.m. on Friday. And on Sunday, the Word Church, 18909 S. Miles Rd., will host a Solution Session TownHall, the Black Business Expo and a Taste of Black Cleveland. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Admission is free.
The RBF concept originated in 2014 when Purnell launched his book, "Financial Foundations." He recalls meeting small business owners who were paying rent directly out of their cash registers. Ultimately, he believes, championing African-American-run shops can uplift the neighborhoods surrounding them.
"It's a hard fight," says Purnell. "The more dollars we drive to small businesses, the more impactful it can be to our communities." 

Making organic dough 'feels good' to Cleveland food entrepreneur

Pizza, calzones, empanadas and pot pies are all delicious, there's no debate to be had on that. However, thanks to the efforts of a Cleveland-area food entrepreneur, those flavorful goodies are now healthier, too.
Terry Thomsen, founder of Frickaccio’s Pizza Market in Fairview Park and the West Side Market - where their pizza bagels have been a staple for more than 30 years - launched Feel Good Dough in January. Thomsen's new venture is a line of USDA-certified organic frozen dough balls, which their proprietor says are vegan-friendly and GMO-free. The all-purpose dough, made in a 3,000-square-foot production and retail space in Fairview, can be used for both dinner and dessert recipes.
"It's good for pizza, dinner rolls, or anything else that's 100 percent clean without GMOs or pesticides," says Thomsen.
Though Thomsen previously trucked in organic artisan breads and dough balls, her latest enterprise is a good option for people with food allergies or difficulty digesting gluten. Feel Good Dough recently partnered with Milwaukee-based Red Star Yeast to utilize the company's 100 percent organic yeast, a move Thomsen says will keep her treats pure.
"I insisted on 100 percent organic including the yeast," she says. "This is not a common practice for many manufacturers, which are just 'made with' (organic ingredients) or 90 percent clean. We chose not to be like the rest."
Thomsen, a Lakewood resident, exhibited her homemade dough last month at the Fancy Food Show in New York. Upcoming is Expo East in Baltimore, where she will display Feel Good Dough for potential distributors.
Consumers can find the frozen dough balls today in 12 states. Locally, Heinen'sWhole FoodsMustard Seed and other local markets carry the product, with Kroger's and Giant Eagle serving as future potential landing spots.
Thomsen initially test-marketed the dough out of her West Side Market location. After getting picked up by Heinen's, she tweaked the recipe to withstand additional heat for grilling and baking. Clean ingredients aren't cheap - Feel Good  Dough's suggested retail price is $5.99 - but healthy eating is worth the price, the business owner says.
"It's about being a grandmother and making something for families," Thomsen says. "Knowing people are eating it without stomach issues makes me feel good."

Weapons of Mass Creation draws talent from across the globe to Playhouse Square this weekend

Upon its launch in 2010, the Weapons of Mass Creation (WMC) art and design conference was envisioned as a small meet-and-greet for area artists. Fifty people attended the event's first iteration, starting a tradition that in recent years has reached beyond regional and even national boundaries.
Now in its seventh year, WMC is expected to draw more than 1,000 professional and aspiring artists, designers, small business owners and other makers of all innovative stripes. The three-day happening, hosted August 5-7 at the Ohio, Kennedy and State Theatres in Playhouse Square, features TEDx-style talks with a diverse panel of speakers, interactive workshop sessions and live podcasts.
Among this year's speakers are Grammy award-winning designer Stefan Sagmeister and Cleveland kidnapping survivor Michelle Knight, who will discuss the healing power of art and art therapy. Cleveland designer Aaron Sechrist will host a creative celebration that includes live art battles and podcasts.
Founded by Cleveland-based design studio Go Media, the annual arts conference has grown in popularity due to a unique mix of guests, programming and educational offerings, says event director Heather Sakai. Attendees will learn how to create everything from a captivating comic book storyline to a profitable design business. New this year is a free "desk yoga" class that teaches simple poses busy artists can do while working. 
"The general feel is inspiring and authentic," says Sakai. "There's a good sense of community here. We offer a little bit of everything."
Positive word-of-mouth has broadened WMC's audience, as web developers and videographers now mingle with artists from traditional media.
"Cleveland is huge for design, arts and culture," Sakai says. "When people come to town, we try to expose them to all the city has to offer."
WMC moved downtown from the Gordon Square Arts District to give the metro area better exposure. About 60 percent of program patrons reside outside Ohio, coming from arts enclaves within cities such as Los Angeles and Austin. International visitors from Australia, India and the United Kingdom round out the packed event venues.
Sakai says broadening the guest list to include non-artistic residents can put a focus on both Cleveland and its emergent creative hub.

"Fundraising is one of the biggest challenges WMC faces," she says. "People love the idea of the arts in Cleveland, but it's hard for them to follow through with raising funds. Hosting a premier design conference is a great way to make art accessible to any Clevelander."

Fran DiDonato's social media reporting of the RNC

Fresh Water publisher Fran DiDonato tweets what she sees at the RNC.

CSA grad keeps the 216 in his heart, offers kids hope through dance

It's a fair June evening and Nehemiah Spencer sways stageside at Wade Oval Wednesday, clad in black-on-black Converse and a crew neck festooned with the familiar red curves of the Coca-Cola logo. Today’s theme is “Reggae Night,” and the assembled families are chatty and sporting Bob Marley T-shirts. Spencer has picked up a loose branch in each hand and moves his arms in easy rhythms, improvising a deft twirl of one wrist in time with the band. A few huddled couples smile at him from their blankets, unsure if he’s part of the show.
Spencer, a graduate of the Cleveland School of the Arts (CSA) and Juilliard, is now a company dancer with the Complexions Contemporary Ballet in New York City. The Glenville native is preparing for a new show with the company in Israel. So what’s he doing in Cleveland on a Wednesday night?

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Mark Oprea's social media reporting of the RNC

A roundup of Mark Oprea's observations during the RNC, from Little Italy to the Q.

Bob Perkoski's social media photos of the RNC

A collection of RNC moments caught by our managing photographer Bob Perkoski.

Doug Guth's social media reporting of the RNC

A roundup of Guth's social media reports throughout the RNC, both on the street and in the Q.

Karin Connelly Rice's social media reporting of the RNC

Here is a rundown of Rice's social media reports on Facebook and Twitter throughout the RNC last week.
872 Articles | Page: | Show All
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