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RALLY: Clevelanders to March for Science on April 22

Cleveland is becoming a powerhouse for scientific discovery and research thanks to its world-class universities and medical facilities as well as a growing tech industry. What better way to celebrate the innovative leaps happening here than with a parade? ask Northeast Ohio's science proponents.
 
That question will be answered during the March for Science taking place at Public Square on April 22. The collaboration among a coalition of local foundations and science-based organizations is expected to draw thousands of supporters downtown, and will act as a satellite event to the national March for Science held the same day in Washington, D.C.
 
"Cleveland is a science town and that's something we should appreciate and showcase," says Dr. Evalyn Gates, executive director and CEO of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, one of the sponsors for the march.
 
The free event begins at 9 a.m. and includes activities and speakers that underscore the influence of science on the world. While the speaker lineup is still to be determined, attendees can choose banners displaying beer, bald eagles and other elements of our planet that are impacted by science.
 
"People can carry these banners during the march," says Gates. "There are so many ways science undergirds our lives."
 
The list of local advocates is emblematic of Cleveland's scientific strengths, adds Gates: Along with the natural history museum, Cleveland State University, Greater Cleveland Aquarium, Great Lakes Science Center, Holden Forests & Gardens, The MetroHealth System and West Creek Conservancy are just a few partner organizations on the march.

"Cleveland is a global leader in medical research and other fields," Gates says. "Then you have companies like Sherwin-Williams and General Electric employing a science-based workforce."
 
A march championing this work is especially critical in the face of proposed budget cuts to some federal science agencies, notes Gates. Among the projects at risk is the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Since its inception, the program has funded 3,400 projects targeting everything from the control of invasive Asian carp to pollution cleanup.
 
Marching in support of these endeavors sends a message to the nation's capital, and also serves as a strong message for future generations interested in the pursuit of science.
 
"We want this event to be a catalyst for people to talk to each other," says Gates. "It's a good starting point for conversation on science-related matters." 

Who's Hiring in CLE: Rick Case, Hyland Software, Cleveland Foundation...

Welcome to the latest edition of Fresh Water Cleveland's “who’s hiring” series, where we feature growing companies with open positions, what they’re looking for and how to apply. Please send your freshest job tips and postings to innovationnews@freshwatercleveland.com.
 
Rick Case Automotive Group
Rick Case Automotive Group is hosting a career fair on Wednesday, Feb. 8, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Rick Case Honda, 915 E. 200th St., in Euclid. Candidates can apply for product specialist and sales consultant jobs as well as dealership service advisor positions. For more information, call 216-416-6847 or visit the dealership website.
 
Cleveland Foundation
Cleveland Foundation is seeking a media relations officer to oversee external communications and support the chief marketing officer in providing counsel to the foundation team. Responsibilities include enhancement of the nonprofit's media outreach footprint. A minimum of eight to 10 years in media relations required. To apply, send resume and cover letter indicating salary requirements to resumes@clevefdn.org by February 19. Candidates selected for interview will be contacted on or around the week of February 27.
 
Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland Clinic is searching for an administrative program coordinator to identify operational improvement opportunities and coordinate policy implementation and evaluation. The successful candidate will work from the Clinic's Beachwood campus and is expected to lead multiple complex projects, assist with scheduling, and act as a liaison with committees, employees and vendors. Bachelor's degree in business administration, finance, communications, healthcare administration, or related field required. Apply through the company's career page

CBS Radio
Broadcast media company CBS Radio needs a full-time reporter for its in-house traffic team based in Cleveland. Duties include writing, editing and voicing traffic reports for broadcast on CBS Radio stations. Knowledge of broadcast area geography and transportation systems preferred. Apply through the company's website.
 
Hyland Software
Hyland is looking for a network and security engineer to perform general maintenance  and vulnerability assessments on its systems. Qualifications include experience as an IT security administrator, proficiency with Microsoft and Linux operating systems, and experience using various security tools. Apply through the company's website.
 
Rockwell Automation
Mayfield Heights industrial automation firm Rockwell Automation is hiring a senior-level mobile software engineer to develop large scale applications. Hires will work with software engineering areas such as SPA architectures, mobile platforms and test automation. Minimum four years of software development experience and a bachelor's degree in computer science or equivalent required. Apply through the company's website

Partner content podcast: What does Neighbor Up do?


The latest episode of "Neighbor Up Spotlight" is now available.

"Neighbor Up Spotlight: What does Neighbor Up do?" is a 15-minute kitchen table conversation between host Carol Malone and Neighbor Up member Tom O'Brien focusing on how Neighbor Up came together and what members are doing to make change in Cleveland.

Hosted by Malone, a Cleveland resident and activist, each episode of "Neighbor Up Spotlight" focuses on members of Neighbor Up, a network of approximately 2,000 Greater Cleveland residents making positive change in their neighborhoods. This resident-driven social change movement is about bringing equity to all Cleveland neighborhoods.

Listen to “Neighbor Up Spotlight" on Soundcloud or download episodes from iTunes. Or just click below to hear the latest edition right now.




Support for this series, "Grassroots Success: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods," is provided by Neighborhood Connections.

Cleveland contingent wins gold, spreads awareness at inaugural Cybathalon

A Cleveland-based group of researchers and athletes recently harnessed an innovative technology - along with a nearly superhuman will to win - to take home gold at the world's first "cyborg games."
 
The gold medal team journeyed to Zurich, Switzerland, in October to compete in the first ever Cybathlon, an international "cyborg Olympics" open to disabled people who use electronic prosthetics to compete daily tasks. Sent by the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, the contingent won a gold medal in the Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) bike race, which modified recumbent bikes for competitors with spinal cord injuries.
 
Team Cleveland "pilot" Mark Muhn, a California native paralyzed from the armpits down after a skiing accident, finished 1:10 ahead of his nearest competitor, thanks to training and a locally-born experimental research program that implanted a pulse generator under his skin.
 
Designed by the Cleveland VA's Advanced Platform Technology (APT) Center, the device was connected to an external control box that Muhn and his fellow riders activated with a button press. The implant sent electrical stimulation to Muhn's paralyzed muscles, allowing him to create a pedaling movement in sync with the bike around a 750-meter track.
 
"The pulse generator is like a pacemaker that delivers current to the back, hips and legs," says Dr. Ron Triolo, team leader on the project. "That small amount of current fires the nerve, resulting in muscle contraction."
 
Cleveland's 10-person Cybathlon crew consisted of a biomedical engineer, a neuroscientist/certified bike mechanic and a world-class competitive cyclist. Triolo traveled to Zurich with Team Cleveland athletes bolstered by two months of training in the implant technology.
 
Winning the gold was exciting, but the Cybathlon's competitive aspect came in second to showing off an innovation that helps individuals with devastating spinal injuries regain some form of movement, Triolo says.
 
"We were using technology that's not commercially available and showing the potential difference these interventions can make in someone's life," he says. "We're raising awareness that hopefully sparks investment."
 
Combining sports and medical research was instructive for Triolo's team as well.
"Biking was new for us," he says. "It's a powerful exercise tool that made our volunteers stronger. They feel like they're part of society again."

By empowering the people, Neighborhood Connections enables lasting grassroots change

This series of stories, "Grassroots Success: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods," explores how meaningful impact on our communities grows from the ground up. Support for "Grassroots Success" is provided by Neighborhood Connections and NewBridge Cleveland Center for Arts & Technology.
 
Increasingly, people are feeling that elected officials, leaders, and large institutions do not reflect or respect their interests, concerns, or needs. People feel polarized, left out, unseen, and not represented. At times, it can even feel like it's us verses them. One local organization, however, Neighborhood Connections and its program director Tom O’Brien, wants residents to know that we are all in this together.
 
“We don’t need to go into our corners; we need to find common ground,” says O'Brien. "This [organization] is about love and power. The love is breaking down barriers, and the power is creating change.”
 
Established in 2003, Neighborhood Connections attempts to empower Cleveland and East Cleveland citizens through grassroots programs while working with local institutions to create lasting positive change.
 
“We want to invest in human capitol,” O’Brien says. "This is neighborhood folks getting together to do good in their own neighborhoods.” He adds that the group tries to help with financial, technological, and community assets to build leadership capacity in local community members.
 
Neighborhood Connections boasts the largest small grants program in the nation, investing in resident-led projects ranging from $500 to $5,000 per grant, The organization has funded approximately 2,300 projects since 2003 totaling more than $7.5 million. Sometimes a grant is si.ply about brightening up a little corner of the world; others inspire folks to let off steam with old fashioned fun.
 
Approximately four years ago and with guidance from Trusted Space Partners’ Bill Traynor and Frankie Backburn, the group also launched Neighbor Up, which currently has more than 2,000 members. That effort encourages community members to exchange resources, support each other, and collaborate on transformative projects.
 
O’Brien says the group formed to change the environment of how people come together. It focuses on supporting individuals, providing timely information and working together to make change in the community. Residents get together to decide what they want to work on, including issues such as health and jobs. There is even an artists’ collaborative.
 
“Being involved in the public discourse can be very difficult and deflating,” notes O'Brien. “So what we’ve tried to do is change that and provide a space that is more hope-filled – and people actually get value out of it. Creating the space for people to come together to say, 'what’s the reality of what we want to create for ourselves?' instead of institutions saying 'this is what you need' – this is the plan. This is getting the people most affected together to say, 'this is what we want; this is what we need.'”
 
Organizers strive to help create an equal environment where no one dominates the meeting. There is no agenda as people sit in a circle, raise questions, and share information. Then they break off into smaller groups to discuss grassroots organizing and specifics.
 
During the initial meetings people were asking how to get jobs with large, local institutions. These discussions inspired the innovative Step Up to UH jobs pipeline project.
 
“It started as a conversation among people in this network,” O’Brien says of the effort, which identifies good candidates for jobs at University Hospital and then trains them for those positions.
 
Members also developed the Greater University Circle Community Health Initiative in hopes of lowering the infant mortality rate and abating the hazards of lead paint in Greater University Circle (Fresh Water will take a closer look at this initiative in early January).
 
During monthly Network Nights in the Greater University Circle and Buckeye neighborhoods (and in Glenville beginning in January), people make exchanges with one another, requesting and offering help and services from a ride to the doctor's office and tips on who’s hiring to assistance on painting projects, etc.
 
“We make sure there’s a level playing field in the room,” O’Brien says, “and people get value as soon as they walk [in]. It’s a place where people want to be.”
 
They also invite representatives from local institutions so community members can get to know them face to face, thus narrowing the social distance between people.

“In many ways these practices are an antidote to the rural/urban divide,” O’Brien explains. "They break down the walls between community and institutions to create something new together or get good information. There are people who are part of those institutions who can create real change. We bring people into rooms where these meetings normally wouldn’t happen.”
 
Members can also build leadership skills at Neighbor Up University, attending workshops on creating meaningful places in neighborhoods, training on community network building, and learning a variety of member-led skills on everything from marketing to running for political office.
 
O’Brien says they hope to build their network out, expanding west and even into suburbs.
 
“This approach can really make significant change,” he says. “We want to continue to crate an environment for people to come together while making bigger change. We want to make more spaces like this. We are bridging age, gender, race, orientation, social, economic differences – thousands of people from all walks of life – to make the world we want right here right now.”
 

PRISM looks to unite second cohort of racial equity leaders

This series of stories, "Grassroots Success: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods," explores how meaningful impact on our communities grows from the ground up. Support for "Grassroots Success" is provided by Neighborhood Connections.

Like light through a prism, each of us is a unique individual amid our respective neighborhoods, organizations, and jobs. But it's actually the multifaceted spectrum that makes up any group. Partners Neighborhood Connections and the Community Innovation Network at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) examine this phenomenon in PRISM, a racial equity leadership program led by Erica Merritt, Equius Group, and Adele DiMarco Kious, Yinovate, LLC.

Launched in June 2016, PRISM was created to assist area non-profit, social service, corporate, neighborhood, and other formal and informal leaders address racial equity in a safe environment. By bringing together different experiences and racial perspectives, PRISM strives to create productive dialogue in a safe environment.
 
“Twenty participants completed the PRISM experience and have continued to stay connected to each other and [further] racial equity work in our community,” Merritt says. “In fact, in November we will be launching monthly sessions for this group as a way of continuing to support their growth. This work is challenging and difficult to sustain over time without a strong support system.”
 
The first five-session program examined racism on four levels: internalized, interpersonal, institutional and structural. Participants were provided tools to assess the state of their organizations and communities. They also had the opportunity to participate in caucus groups.
 
The program consists of interactive sessions using film, mini-lectures, experiential exercises, short videos, and articles. Designed around a cohort model, a maximum of 20 participants attend five workshops, each building on the last. Interpersonal relations are also established through the sessions.
 
“We strive for a racially diverse group of participants representing a variety of institutions, community organizations and neighborhoods,” Merritt says. “The intention is for us to collectively equip and empower each other so that we may unite to truly make a change.”
 
She says participants of the first block of sessions ranged from people representing the Cleveland Public Library, CWRU, and charter schools, as well as others who came to learn how to address issues in their own neighborhoods.
 
PRISM strives to leave participants with greater self-awareness and an individualized plan with an improved capacity to dismantle racism in their neighborhoods and organizations. Many participants have kept in touch socially or have begun to work together to implement things they have learned through the sessions.
 
“Our goal is to continue striving toward racial equity in Cleveland by building a network of leaders, formal and informal, who are working towards it in large and small ways every single day,” Merritt explains, adding she'll know they have achieved this goal when Clevelanders' racial identity no longer predict how one fares statistically.
 
In addition to the next five-session PRISM program that will run from February through April, PRISM will be launching a monthly version beginning in November called R.E.A.L. (Racial Equity and Leadership) Workshops, which will serve as an entry point for individuals who want to build personal awareness around racial equity. The REAL sessions will examine the difference between equality and equity and explore practices and policies at the structural level. Merritt says the workshops will teach people about racism that extends past individual acts of meanness. Scheduled dates include Nov. 30, Jan. 10, Feb. 15, March 15 and April 12. All programs are from 6 to 8 p.m. and will be held at Neighborhood Connections, 5000 Euclid Ave., suite 310, inside the Agora.
 
“I do this work out of a great deal of optimism that we can have a better future,” Merritt says. “It’s about not wanting to repeat the past, and knowing we can create a better country. It [systemic inequity] is something that we created, so it’s something we can dismantle.”

A Global Kitchen opens in the Museum of Natural History

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History (CMNH) may be most popular among families and field-trippers, but foodies take note: You won’t want to miss Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture, a traveling presentation of the American Museum of Natural History, New York, on display in the venerable University Circle institution through January 8, 2017.
 
Dr. Nikki Burt, curator of human health and evolutionary medicine at CMNH promises the exhibit will change the way you relate to food – a tall order, but one visitors will eagerly affirm.
 
Tracing back the history of food to the beginning of civilization, the presentation reveals how human habits and technology have influenced the yield, shape, size, and taste of everything we eat, along with the inevitable “trade offs” that create negative impacts on crops, farm animals and fish.
 
Through interactive displays that follow the roots of cultivation, culture, science and trade, it’s apparent that our everyday culinary choices are more complex and meaningful than mere cravings. Rather, opportunities often afforded by those less fortunate and actions with far-reaching consequences, impact people continents away and for generations to come.
 
As a former expat and lightweight locavore who frequents farmer’s markets, I considered myself fairly worldly and connected to my food sources before embarking on the tour. Nearing the end, while sandwiched between two towering walls - one displaying a collection of the world’s most influential cookbooks and the other festooned with utensils used around the globe - I felt both puny and powerful, humbly educated and hungry to learn even more.
 
The grand finale of the exhibit can be found as you round the final corridor and step inside a life-like gallery of famous people’s food. The simple concept proved fascinating, allowing visitors to imagine bellying up to Michael Phelp’s breakfast table and see how Jane Austen ate on her estate while penning her bestselling books.
 
Although there’s a tiny area for toddlers at the end of the line, older kids and adults will get the most enjoyment from this exhibit, which is best savored as you would a smorgasbord – slowly and with gusto. Be prepared to be grabbed by all of your senses at every turn.
 
Speaking of eating…Our Global Kitchen will undoubtedly kindle cravings and conversation, so come prepared with a plan for your post-museum meal. Zack Bruell’s cafeteria-style eatery Exploration is located onsite but closes before 4 p.m. If that's too early, other opportunities to enjoy international fare at independent restaurants abound. France is as far-flung as EDWINS on Shaker Square, Brazil is as close as Batuqui in Larchmere, and a little taste of Italy is literally around the corner.

Want to extend the day or make a date of it? Download the Cleveland Historical and Circle Walk apps to guide you on an afternoon stroll through University Circle and the Cleveland Cultural Gardens in Rockefeller Park.

No matter how you chose to sup before your visit, Our Global Kitchen may not change the way you twirl your pasta or dress a salad, but you’ll never look at food the same way again.

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.
 
"It's going to be a very high energy event with a lot to offer people who are either artists and creators or fans of comics, zines, photography, and art books," says Deidre McPherson, MOCA's curator of public programs. "There will be publishers, comic book creators, zinesters, printers, poets, and photographers here." They'll be exhibiting work that tackles pop culture, activism, feminism, gender identity, madness and sexuality – just to tag a few topics.


 
Contemporary artist TR Ericsson, whose pieces are part of several permanent museum collections, curated the event as he did last year's inaugural effort. His work, notes McPherson, imparts "voice to the voiceless," which is also at the heart of BOUND – but don't ask either to tap picks from the upcoming line up.
 
"The most compelling aspect of the book fair is the diverse selection of artists and book makers," says Ericsson, adding that "this makes it impossible to list favorites simply because each offering is so exceptionally unique."
 
"You'll find artists who went to art school and have a very extensive background in creating work at a high level," adds McPherson, "but also self trained artists who are incredibly talented and have done some outstanding work in their careers."
 
Fair enough, but in lieu of favorites, here's a sampling of BOUND exhibitors. Locals include John G of Shiner Comics, co-creator of the local horror comic Lake Erie Monster; the venerable Mac's Backs-Books on Coventry; Caitie Moore, who will be exhibiting her indie photobooks from her Nomadic Bookshelf project; artist Jerry Birchfield and the Gordon Arts Square institution Guide to Kulchur along with proprietor RA Washington, who is a tireless advocate for marginalized voices in print medium.
 
Out-of-towners include Brooklyn artist Paul Weston of Instigator and his interactive ANY1 mural project; Philadelphia's Nathan Pierce, Claire Cushing of Same Coin Press; and from New Orleans, former Clevelander JS Makkos of NOLA Digital Newspaper Archive, who will conduct printing demos on mimeographs, the predecessors of the copy machine.
 
A host of emerging local voices such as photographer and internet sensation Alison Scarpulla and Cleveland Institute of Art grads Matthew Rowe (BL^NT), Ash Fiasco and Evan Fusco will round out the roster.
 
A soundtrack will accompany the entire event, with Friday night's live music performances staged on MOCA's loading dock and doubling as part of the museum's creative sound music series, LOADED. Bands include Form A Log, Hiram-Maxim and Fake Species. DJs from WCSB Radio will aptly score the action in Gund Commons throughout the day Saturday.
 
Saturday's programming will feature presentations, discussions and a workshop on zines and how to make them from Cleveland-based artists Jacob Koestler of My Idea of Fun and Anna Tararova, proprietor of Meowville. A panel discussion on the use of zines as a platform for emerging and marginalized narratives will include RA Washington; Akron-based writer Angel Cezanne, founder of Eleanor: A Zine, which aims to empower women and non-binary people by promoting their art; and Jimmy Lewis of Columbus, Ohio, founder of Fag Enabler, a zine for queer, feminist, and nonconformist creativity. The panel discussion will be moderated by poet, author, and change catalyst M. Carmen Lane. An after-party at the Grog Shop will cap off the two-day event.
 
McPherson hopes to build on the momentum of last year's Mimeo Revolution: Art Book + Zine Fair, which was inspired by MOCA's 2015 exhibit How To Remain Human and Ericcson, who coincidentally approached MOCA staff with the idea of modeling an event after the MoMa PS1 Art Book Fair, a popular underground fair in New York and Los Angeles. The resulting three-day event attracted some 1,000 attendees.
 
"Attendance was amazing. It was great to see," says McPherson, adding that she expects similar numbers this weekend – or even more attendees mingling with exhibitors, which numbered about 30 last year. "It was gratifying to see how many artists were given a space at MOCA to share and talk about their work."
 
Lastly, BOUND is a fitting dovetail with MOCA's current exhibit, Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia. From the 30,000 original post cards he's created over the years to the 1977 self-published 300-page My Struggle, Booji Boy, which are currently on display at the Akron Museum of Art and MOCA, respectively, Mothersbaugh's work embodies an alternative legacy of underground and DIY culture.


 
"Mark Mothersbaugh – when he was a student at Kent State University – created zines and was self publishing and using art books and zines and his own drawings as a way of expressing himself," says McPherson. "Mark was definitely inspired by the mimeo revolution that was occurring in the 1960s and continued through the 70s," she adds.
 
Furthermore, Friday night's live concert, which was curated by Dandelion Moon's Andrew Auten, Lisa Miralia of Mysterious Black Box and artist-musician David Russell Stempowski of Polar Envy, will be an energetic fusion of experimental sound, avant rock and punk.
 
"These three bands were hand picked and selected with Mark Mothersbaugh in mind," says McPherson.
 
Myopia will be in its final weekend during the fair. Hence the reduced $5 admission is an affordable last-chance to see the dazzling collection along with the extended BOUND presentations.
 
"It's a great capstone," says McPherson of the interactive farewell to Myopia.
 

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." 

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?
 
Spencer comes home every summer. In 2012, he founded the Nehemiah Project, a dance-intensive effort that provides affordable instruction to inner-city youth. Beyond typical lessons in technique, however, the program holds classes geared toward social justice, covering topics on everything from bullying prevention to race relations workshops.
 
“For example, I know that bullying is not just physical, but most of the time, there’s an aggression that needs to be let out, in some cases physically,” says Spencer. “I wanted people to realize that there are different ways you can use your body to allow yourself to feel liberated. That’s what dance basically does.”
 
Every year, the program tackles a new community initiative. One summer, the students created a showcase for nursing home patients, choosing the venue and choreographing the piece themselves. Last year, the group held an anti-bullying flash mob in Tower City, dancing to “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The Cleveland-based MadWerkz Studios filmed it, and created a documentary short that was shown at three film festivals, winning the “Audience Choice Award” at the ICE Film Festival in Dayton. For several summers, students have participated in diversity and community relations seminars hosted by the Shaker Heights High School Group on Race Relations and the Cleveland Police Department.
 
“We had our first student alumni of the The Nehemiah Project graduate from college just recently and that's huge,” says Obadiah Baker, founder of Tender Hearts Crusades, the nonprofit that acts as the Project’s primary fiscal sponsor. “That's the whole point – to give them the emotional tools they need to cope with the reality of life. We're trying to build resiliency in at-risk youth, especially those that are in disadvantaged, underserved areas in America. We want to equip them with the tools they need to endure in any type of environment, especially because of their social position within American society.”
 
This year, the program has attracted more sponsors than ever before, including the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Ohio Arts Council, Neighborhood Connections, and yes, Coca-Cola.
 
But on this summer night, the kids are at Wade Oval as part of a collaboration with Fresh Camp, an urban gardening and hip-hop recording program for Cleveland youth. They’ve created a modern dance piece to a song the Fresh Campers wrote and produced. The performance starts quietly, with four dancers stretching their arms into acute angles to a folk-inflected melody. Soon, the bass rises, and the Fresh Camp MCs enter, rapping “Everything is better when we work together!” while the dancers spin. By the end of the set, they’ve invited half of Wade Oval to join them onstage.
 
It’s more than Spencer ever hoped for. He started the program as a one-off after a conversation with his mother, Callie, lamenting the lack of affordable dance courses in Cleveland. Through CSA, he traveled to dance conferences across the country, but knew many of his peers didn’t have that opportunity. In the Nehemiah Project’s first year, he taught the classes himself and created a Kickstarter to pay for costumes. Soon, he’d raised $1,500. Five years, a number of Juilliard Summer Arts Grants and a fateful meeting with Baker later, and the Nehemiah Project is a rising force in Cleveland arts education.
 
For Spencer, the program is a tribute to his mother, who serves as a mentor and for many young dancers. When he founded the Nehemiah Project, he also established a scholarship fund for graduating CSA seniors and named it after her – the Callie E. Taylor Award.
 
“Programs like this are important, because they give students an alternative viewpoint on the reality that we live in, because we can live in a really scary place. But it doesn’t have to be, if people find something that they’re passionate about or something that scares them, and do it anyway.”

For more information about the Nehemiah Project, visit www.facebook.com/holisticdance or email Obadiah Baker at Obadiah.baker@tenderheartscrusades.com.
 


DADApunk Cabaret Party to close out RNC week with rebellion, absurdity

In 1916, the laws of art were dissolved behind the doors of Swiss nightclub Cabaret Voltaire when Hugo Ball delivered the Dada Manifesto. With nonsense and surrealism, the anti-movement of Dadaism challenged the conventions of art, World War I-era politics and culture.
 
100 years later, Dadaism’s experimental and rebellious nature, often steeped in off-kilter performance art, continues to inspire creators today to embrace absurdity. Among those artists is Mark Mothersbaugh, the focus of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Cleveland’s current exhibit, Myopia.
 
To celebrate that ideological coupling, on Friday, July 22, at 8 p.m., the museum will transform into the Dadapunk Cabaret Party extravaganza. Performances by neo-vaudevillian variety show WizBang will be followed by a dance party with Justin Long, a Chicago DJ and host of the aptly named Hugo Ball dance night. Dada and punk costumes are encouraged, though not required – and the more peculiar, the better.
 
The anything-goes soiree pays tribute to Mothersbaugh and his Dada influences.
 
“He seduces you with humor and color and form; it’s whimsical and disarming,” says MOCA deputy director Megan Lykins Reich. “And a Dadaist event is meant to bring your view of the world right now and gather others to share that [view] in a way that’s non-judgmental," she adds, noting that it's a healthy way to have discussions about more serious things. "It’s a way to break the ice.”


 
Dada’s boundary-bending nature became a driving force in the emerging DIY punk scene that bred Mothersbaugh’s Devo. The name of the new wave pioneers’ band itself comes from the word “devolution,” a rejection of structure true to Dadaism’s form. Even as their popularity began to grow, they rejected the stylishness that permeated the rock ‘n’ roll scene in favor of offbeat costumes like hazmat suits, garbage bags and construction overalls that radiated Dadaism.
 
“Dadaism was a movement that was anarchic, celebrating disorder and chaos through art,” says Lykins Reich. “In Devo, the band would start very rigidly with music that was very ordered, and as the concerts would go on, it would start to unravel and become loose and open and free and unbound.”
 
And what better time to indulge in the spirit of chaos than as the Republican National Convention comes to a close?
 
WizBang plans to bring the same eccentricity of Dadaism that defines their usual performances, which are filled with mischief and misfits.
 
“It’s giving us this new breath of inspiration to try to infuse some of Mothersbaugh’s mayhem with our own mayhem,” says WizBang co-founder Jason Tilk.
 
Satori Circus, who has roots in the Detroit punk scene, will bring his bag of avant-garde carnival tricks as well. Champion juggler and bearded wonder Will Oltman, who goes by the stage name “Will Juggle,” will perform his gravity-defying balancing acts. And, of course, Tilk and his wife Danielle – better known as Pinch and Squeal – will engage in their ragtag routine of magic, music, gags and other oddities.
 
“WizBang has always been this no-holds-barred, let’s grab onto this, twist it around and present it to an audience in a way that really surprises them kind of thing,” says Tilk.
 
Expect to also hear their take on sound poetry – the performance-based orations that eschew any structure or familiarity that were made popular by Hugo Ball. 
 
“It’s all phonetically put together to sound beautiful like a poem, but really it’s gibberish,” says Tilk. “I see a close relationship with Mark’s music, which has this repetition and then it breaks down and then it layers up again. It almost turns into these poems.”


 
For a perfect example within the Myopia exhibit – which, along with the entire museum, will be open throughout the Cabaret – look to the Mothersbaugh’s display of handmade oddball instruments, “Orchestrations.”
 
“These very organized instruments play restructured compositions, but they have very open, free, projecting parts to them,” notes Lykins Reich of the quirky sculptures.
 
Mothersbaugh himself has always tiptoed between personal, unorthodox art and applied art. Just as Dadaism has transcended a century, Mothersbaugh’s world has spanned generations, from creating music for PeeWee’s Playhouse to Wes Anderson films.
 
And just like he blurs the lines between intimate creations and commercial soundtracks, such as his collection of 30,000 postcards in the Akron Art Museum counterpart Myopia exhibit, WizBang’s performances will blur the lines between entertainer and consumer. Not only can revelers expect to be pulled on stage, costumed performers will roam through the party long after the curtain is drawn.
 
The immersive experience is part of the museum’s inclusive programming that draws Northeast Ohioans of all ages into Mothersbaugh’s wonderful world. From the kid-friendly Myopiawesome Art Studio programs each Thursday through August 25 to the upcoming Bound Art Book and Zine Fair on August 26 and 27. That event will explore the DIY, alternative scene of self-publishing, which Mothersbaugh was part of with his own My Struggle, Booji Boy, a 300-page, illustrated art book that was equal parts zine and Dadaist-surrealist memoir.
 
“It’s all very accessible, whether you’re a practicing visual artist or not,” says MOCA’s curator of public programs Deidre McPherson of Myopia. “Mark has experimented with so many different things, and he has connection with so many parts of our culture.”
 
From the delivery of the Dada Manifesto in 1916 to the political statements of Devo, Dadapunk partygoers will kick off the movement's next 100 years with abandon.
 
“At its core, the idea of freedom of expression and an alternative approach to creativity is something that will probably never go away,” says Lykins Reich. “In moments of political tension, artists are always the ones that show us how to essentially break out of that mentality and appreciate diversity and what that brings to a culture.”

MOCA is part of Fresh Water's underwriting network.

Summer program for collegians to foster area 'brain gain'

Over the next nine weeks, 70 college students from eight campuses will intern at 46 Cleveland-area companies as part of Summer on the Cuyahoga (SOTC) program. Should all go well, a percentage of those students will return to town one day on a more permanent basis, organizers say.
 
SOTC, an economic development initiative designed to connect talented young professionals to Northeast Ohio, kicked off its summer program last week with a reception at Pura Vida in Public Square.  Students from this year's group hail from eight SOTC partner schools: Case Western Reserve University, Colgate, Cornell, Denison, Ohio Wesleyan, Smith, University of Chicago and Yale. They come to Cleveland from 24 states and five foreign countries.
 
SOTC is the only college internship program where participants fully immerse themselves in a downtown environment, says executive director Jean Koehler.  By day, students will work full-time at companies and organizations such as KeyBank and the Cleveland Museum of Art. Nights and weekends will be spent exploring the city's cultural, civic and recreational amenities before settling in at the Fenn Tower dorms on the Cleveland State University campus.
 
"These students are living as young professionals; it's real-life living," says Koehler.
 
Program officials will take their charges on behind-the-scenes tours of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Students will also engage in discussions on community development, and meet other YPs who chose to launch their careers in Cleveland.
 
SOTC's long-range goal is to have interns build networks and relocate to Greater Cleveland. To that end, the program matches new recruits with area alumni from their respective schools, some of whom are also graduates of the internship venture.
 
"Our interns always have a great experience," she says. "One hundred percent of last year's group had an affinity toward Cleveland and would recommend the program to their friends."
 
The return to the North Coast of 21 interns from last year's cohort - including 12 college graduates who accepted full-time positions here - reflects the strength of a talent-gathering effort now in its 14th year, says Koehler.
 
"We want to keep Cleveland on the radar of people who wouldn't come here (without the program)," she says. "If we can keep interns engaged enough to move here or even do business, our impact is going to be that much greater."
 
Cleveland's smaller size makes it an attractive option for a generation keen on making a difference in their community, Koehler says. SOTC leaders make sure to introduce interns to local changemakers, yet another way to ensure the program's influence lasts well beyond the summer.
 
"You can be a big fish in a small town here," says Koehler. "If you want to make that kind of impact, it's easier to do it in Cleveland than in New York or Boston."

University Circle to showcase transportation with new shuttle, walkability, public transit

With newcomers such as MOCA and the utterly transformed Uptown District, University Circle (UC) has exploded with new activity that has easily blended in amid funky Hessler Street, the towering puppets of Parade the Circle and the venerable cultural institutions lining Wade Oval.
 
If you build it, they will come. So goes the saying and so it is for UC, a development that University Circle Inc. (UCI) and its partners have noted and then some.
 
"I really think transportation is on a lot of people's minds lately. It's certainly on our minds here in University Circle and the surrounding area," says Laura Kleinman, UCI's vice president of services. "Such substantial growth means a greater volume of people in the area," she adds, noting that the influx increases pressure on the environment, the infrastructure and most importantly, the people.
 
To ease it all, UCI, along with some 20 area partners, has developed the expansive Moving Greater University Circle's Transportation and Mobility Plan. At more than 140 pages, the document is daunting, but it's implementation and intent are already evidenced in the UC area in the friendliest of ways, starting most notably with a familiar link that's just expanded and aims to make navigating the area easier than ever.
 
The free CircleLink shuttle has historically catered to the area's education and medical industries. A new yearlong pilot program, however, will expand coverage to the Little Italy neighborhood, complete with a new vehicle.
 
"We added a smaller bus so it could navigate Little Italy more easily," says Kleinman, noting that the tiny enclave isn't conducive to maneuvering large vehicles.


 
The new BlueLink, which launched today, will operate from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The free shuttle will circulate every 20 or 30 minutes and will stop at the new Little Italy – University Circle RTA Station; points along Mayfield, Murray Hill and Cornell Roads; and the cultural attractions lining Wade Oval and Magnolia Drive. The addition increases the small but mighty CircleLink fleet from two to three shuttles.
 
The newly named GreenLink will follow a route similar to that of the former shuttle service, with stops along Adelbert, Juniper and Bellflower Roads, as well as East 115 Street.
 
Both routes will help promote the "park-once" concept, by which UC advocates encourage visitors to park in one spot and visit the Circle's amenities throughout the day without moving their car. It will also encourage visitors to enjoy the new CircleWalk program, with it's 40 inviting 'Story Poles' that now pepper the area and draw attention to points of interest such as Rockefeller Park and the Commodore Hotel.
 
Others who initially travel to the area via RTA's Healthline or the recently improved Cedar – University Rapid or the Little Italy stations may opt for two wheels and partake in the forthcoming bike share program. Initially announced last year, University Hospitals was tapped as title sponsor of the citywide UHBikes program last month. The program will be rolling out over the coming weeks. The University Circle area is slated for 10 stations that will house approximately 50 bikes to let.
 
"We're encouraging people to use public transportation get to the Circle and either walk or hop on CircleLink to take them anywhere else in Circle," says Kleinman. "We're working closely with RTA to promote that."
 
To that end, Joe Calabrese, RTA's CEO and general manager, will deliver the keynote at the 2016 Uptown Business Association Showcase in the Circle on Thursday, June 16 from 8 to 10 a.m. at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
 
With all this talk of how people can get around the Circle, Kleinman sees Calabrese as a perfect fit for the event.


 
"I think Joe is a super champion of public transit in the region and even around the country," she says. "I know he's excited about the investments that they have made recently in University Circle, particularly with the two Rapid stations. He's just a great supporter and believer in public transportation and the benefits it can have on infrastructure, on our communities, on our health and on the economics in the region."
 
Calabrese will talk about the Moving Greater University Circle Plan, its components and how RTA has been involved in it all. He'll also discuss RTA's Transit Benefits Fare Program, by which employers can save up to 7.65 percent on average in payroll tax and employees can save up to 40 percent on commuting costs.
 
"People need to be able to get to their jobs easily and cost effectively," says Kleinman, adding that she believes attendees – employees and employers alike – will appreciate hearing about the program.
 
The June 16 event will also include announcements of a number of awards:
 
The Best Nonprofit/Local Business Relationship Award honors a business relationship between a University Circle nonprofit and a neighborhood business. Last year's winners: DeeJay Doc FRESH Camp and Bon Appétit
 
The Best Start Up Business Award honors a neighborhood business that has been in existence less than three years. Last year's winner: Cleveland Yoga Uptown
 
The Best Multi-Generational or Family-Owned Business Award honors a neighborhood business that has been passed on from one generation to the next, or in which two or more family members are employed, share ownership, or are primary decision makers. Last year's winner: The Barking Spider Tavern
 
The Uptown Business Association (UBA) Champion Award honors the UBA member that champions the organization’s mission to promote and support businesses in the Uptown neighborhoods to increase profitability and enhance the quality of life for the community.  Last year's winners: Mark Balogh, The Coffee House at University Circle and Ben Williams Jr., Ben’s Auto Body Specialists
 
Also last year, the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Neighborhood Leadership Award, which honors the late Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones and her legacy of service to the University Circle community, was given to Sara Mierke, Hawken School, and Sally and Bob Gries, The Gries Center.
 
"The [UBA] seeks to engage not only business owners from the Circle, but from the surrounding neighborhoods to help them network with one another and raise awareness of the local business community," says Kleinman, adding that this is the fourth year the Showcase event will include awards.
 
"We'll be celebrating local businesses," she says of the forthcoming event. "We'll also be connecting with a really important topic: public transportation."
 
 
Citizens Bank is the presenting sponsor for the 2016 Uptown Business Association Showcase in the Circle event, with additional promotional support from the Council of Small Enterprise (COSE). The George Gund Foundation and the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency's (NOACA) Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative funded the Moving Greater University Circle Plan. University Hospitals and Case Western Reserve University are funding the pilot BlueLink shuttle program.

This article was made possible by a partnership with University Circle Inc.

 
 

Cleveland Institute of Art delivers first group of grads from Uptown campus

Each year, the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) seeks to build on an internationally recognized heritage of innovation that dates back to 1882. The independent arts school sent its latest iteration of hopeful creatives into the world last weekend during its 2016 commencement event.
 
Bagpipes and cheers heralded the entrance of 117 CIA graduates for the ceremony held May 14 at Cleveland Museum of Art's Gartner Auditorium. Students arrived in home-decorated mortarboards for a two-hour celebration of inventive boundary-pushing that school officials believe will serve them well in whatever career they choose.
 
"We've built a community of peers here at CIA, creating works that make people comfortable with being uncomfortable," said Grafton Nunes, CIA president and CEO.
 
The 2016 graduating class leaves CIA with a visual arts and design education in 15 majors:
 

* Painting
* Biomedical art 
* Drawing
* Ceramics
* Glass
* Printmaking
* Industrial design
* Graphic design
* Interior architecture
* Jewelry + Metals
* Illustration
* Animation
* Game design
* Photography + Video
* Sculpture + Expanded Media  

 
This year's graduates also hand down a legacy marked by significant milestones and exciting projects, administrators said. For example, the 2016 class was the first to graduate from CIA's unified campus in Uptown. CIA had been operating as a split campus since 1976. The addition last fall of the 80,000-square-foot George Gund Building on Euclid Avenue helped centralize operations for the 2016 academic session.
 
CIA's newest grads also had their work appear on a high-definition video mesh above the Gund facility's entrance. Among the projects represented were animated shorts created for the Cleveland Museum of Natural History's planetarium dome and an architectural redesign of Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's primate, cat and aquatics building.
 
In past years, CIA's body of 550 students has gone on to design products or display artwork worldwide, while the school has long served as a resource of public arts programming through gallery exhibitions, visiting artist lectures and showings at the Cinematheque repertory theater.
 
Oscar-nominated actor Willem Dafoe, who gave this year's commencement address, said any type of artistic endeavor, be it a big-budget tent-pole movie franchise seen by millions or an abstract chamber piece viewed by two-dozen, is nurtured by hard work.
 
"It's all making, problem solving and doing," said Dafoe. "My mantra for you is, the work itself is what will sustain you."

The Cleveland Institute of Art is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support community.
 
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