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ZooKeys return to raise awareness, evoke nostalgia

Education is key to protecting the planet's endangered animals, a mindset Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is taking quite literally.
 
This month, the zoo launched its ZooKey program, which offers young visitors customized keys that unlock recorded messages specific to particular exhibits. Kids can use the elephant-shaped keys on two dozen designated boxes scattered throughout the zoo to get fascinating facts on their favorite beastie.
 
"Our mission is about connecting people with wildlife," says Kelly Manderfield, chief marketing officer for Cleveland Metroparks. "This is a hands-on opportunity to educate the next generation and encourage them to learn more about these animals."
 
ZooKeys, part of a partnership with KeyBank celebrating Cleveland Metroparks' 100-year anniversary, are available for purchase at the zoo for $3. Pint-sized patrons can keep the keys and bring them back to access additional recordings.
 
Zoo officials expect nostalgic parents to use the keys, too, considering the program made its original debut in the 1960s. Since the re-launch, adult visitors have arrived with the old "Packey the Elephant" keys they grew up with.
 
"This has stirred lots of memories for parents," says Manderfield. "People are having fun seeing their own children participate."
 
New animal keys will be introduced over the program's current five-year timeline. Manderfield hopes the venture not only connects participants with the zoo's 2,000 animals, but inspires them to get interested in wildlife conservation as well.
 
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there are now 16,306  species threatened with extinction, a figure that also includes plants. Species endangered include one in four mammals, one in eight birds, and one third of all amphibians.
 
Cleveland zoo patrons can witness efforts to stave off this trend at the Eastern black rhinoceros exhibit. This subspecies of black rhino is considered "critically endangered"  under World Wildlife Foundation guidelines due to demand for rhino horn, which has driven poaching to record levels.
 
Unlocking knowledge about rhinos and other rare creatures can be the catalyst that saves them from disappearing forever, Manderfield says.
 
"If we don't take care of these animals now, they may not be around for future generations," she says. "We're taking the idea of conservation and bringing it to the forefront."

The Cleveland Metroparks is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.
 

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.
Evalyn Gates 
"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." 

Purveyor of hemp denim touts sustainability, eyes pop up locations

For some, the word "hemp" conjures up images of burning joints or bongs filled with white smoke.
 
Brian Kupiec is looking to change that perception with a new denim jeans brand that harnesses what he believes are the endless opportunities of hemp fiber. Called Magu Studios, Kupiec and his partners Val Garkov and Garrett Durica started the company in Cleveland two years ago.

After months of preparation, the trio is readying its first run of Japanese Raw Hemp Denim Jeans. The name delivers what it promises, interweaving industrial hemp with cotton for extra durability and bacteria resistance. Hemp carries environmentally-friendly properties as well, needing half as much land for growth as cotton. The leafy plant requires little to no pesticides and needs less water per growing season than "the fabric of our lives."
 
Brian Kupiec"We're highlighting sustainability and want to use our brand as inspiration for others to utilize hemp in their clothing," Kupiec says. "Industry trends are leaning toward more sustainable fabrics and ethical consumerism."
 
Magu Studios' hemp is cultivated in China, then shipped to Okyama, Japan, a city known in fashion circles as a source for high-quality denim. Kupiec, 22, a Kent State University double major in fashion and business marketing, says he and his partners saw a hemp-sized hole in the market and decided to fill it. His company name derives from the Goddess Magu, also known as the Hemp Maiden.
 
Kupiec and other supporters of the oft-misunderstood fiber point to the plant's myriad industrial applications, from medicine to building materials. Though hemp can't be used as a narcotic, the startup owner has fielded numerous queries about his company's relation to cannabis.
 
"People automatically ask us if our jeans are made of marijuana," says Kupiec. "Hemp gets grouped in with weed, but they should be viewed as two separate things."
 
Despite the stigma, Kupiec has gotten mostly positive responses to the business model, a trend he expects to continue in the next month when Magu Studios opens a pop-up shop in either Gordon Square or Ohio City.
 
Wherever it lands, the shop will carry the company's first 100 pairs of slim jeans in standard deep indigo. Different colors and fades will be available next year. By that time, Kupiec would like to be a budding voice for fashionable, sustainable garments.
 
"Creativity and innovation are what drives us as a business," he says. "We want others to have that same innovation and not be afraid to offer sustainability along with quality."  

Inca Tea is 'Hot' in Cleveland for second consecutive year

For the second year straight, the people of Cleveland have spoken about their favorite local tea establishment. 
 
Inca Tea, located in Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, was named the area's "Best Tea House" on the 2016 Cleveland Hot List. This marks the second consecutive year owner Ryan Florio's café  has been selected as a favorite spot to savor a cup of tea or coffee.
 
"It means first and foremost that customers really enjoy what we're doing," says Florio, a Parma-based entrepreneur who founded Inca Tea in 2014. "We're always trying to produce something that will impact people positively."
 
The Cleveland Hot List, which features more than 6,400 businesses competing for the region's love, garnered 59,000 overall votes this year. Inca Tea's standing is emblematic of a fast-growing venture carrying what its owner says is a unique product.
 
The startup's all-natural concoctions are made from anti-oxidant and nutrient-rich purple corn, a recipe Florio discovered on a hiking trip in Peru. Florio's teas are GMO-free, with bio-degradable packaging.
 
Inca Tea also has an all-Cleveland inclination that flows well with its all-natural focus, selling products from area companies like Mitchell's Ice CreamChagrin Falls PopcornBreadsmith and Anna in the Raw. Florio, who is looking to open a production facility in Cleveland, says being a city proponent means keeping the nuts and bolts of his business local.
 
"I believe in the town's revitalization, and like the direction it's going in," he says. "I want to grow my business here and provide jobs. It's a changing landscape that I want to be a part of."
 
Inca Tea distributes its products at 500 stores nationwide, while enjoying a 67 percent revenue increase since 2015. Florio is planning a 350-square-foot full-service storefront at Hopkins's Concourse C, which would offer breakfast and lunch items sourced from local restaurants. Additional plans include franchising the café model and distributing his teas in 5,000 groceries.
 
For now, the busy CEO - or should we say TeaEO? - is happy to be recognized as one of Cleveland's top-tier beverage purveyors.
 
"We'll continue to keep a positive vibe in our products and services," says Florio. "People in Cleveland like to see other Clevelanders succeed. That gives us a buzz and the drive to go forward." 

Local teen heads to high seas for research, experience

Crista Kieley, a senior from the Beaumont School in Cleveland Heights has been selected as a 2016 Honors Research Program student by the Ocean Exploration Trust (OET) to sail aboard exploration vessel (E/V) Nautilus during one of the ship's 2016 Exploration Program expeditions, which offer participants hands-on experience in ocean exploration, research, and communications.
 
"It's going to be a challenging opportunity," says Kieley. "There's going to be a lot of work involved, but I'm excited because I know we're going to learn a lot."
 
She leaves for Rhode Island on July 9, where she'll be one of eight high school seniors from across the country at the University of Rhode Island (URI) Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) engaging in a four-week academic summer program followed by one week aboard the 211-foot Nautilus. Students will live at URI and will work with scientists, engineers, and science communicators in a program that highlights the interdisciplinary nature of ocean science and exploration.
 
"In Rhode Island, we're going to be doing some workshops and work with ocean drifters, which are used to measure currents," says Kieley, "and on the vessel, we'll be doing data logging."
 
Upon completing the dockside portion of the program, the students will become members of the Corps of Exploration on the Nautilus. The 2016 cohort includes 22 students and 17 educators from around the world that were selected by the OET from a competitive pool of applicants hailing from educational and non-profit organizations in twenty states across America and Australia. Their participation in the program is part of OET's mission to explore the ocean by seeking out new discoveries in the fields of geology, biology, maritime history, archaeology, physics, and chemistry while pushing the boundaries of STEM education and technological innovation. Kieley's Nautilus adventure is one of several expeditions from May through September in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
 
The group will explore the California Margin, a broad area off the coast of California in that is crisscrossed by seismically active faults. Kieley and her peers will stand watch alongside scientists and engineers. They'll also participate in live interactions with shore-based audiences via Nautilus Live, a 24-hour web portal by which landlubbers can keep track of the action. The group will also communicate via social media including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
 
This is not the University Heights native's first multi-day mission amid the waves. She has twice participated in the Rotary Club of Cleveland's Youth Empowered to Succeed though Sailing program – Project YESS. As a "novice" in a 2014 and "ambassador" in 2015, she sailed the Great Lakes aboard the tall ship S/V Dennis Sullivan.
 
"It was not only sail training," says Kieley of her time on the Sullivan. "We did a lot of water quality testing while we were out there."
 
Even with that experience under her belt, she admits she's harboring a little trepidation regarding the forthcoming trip on the massive state-of-the-art Nautilus research vessel.
 
"I'm just nervous because it's doing something I've never done before," she says, adding nonetheless that she is excited to have such an immersive opportunity to learn about the field of oceanography.
 
"I'm really looking forward to the week at sea."
 

New app puts key to green spaces in your pocket

A new learning app designed by three local nature-loving entities is offering a deeper perspective on Northeast Ohio's robust parks systems.
 
ParkApps, developed via a partnership among Cleveland Metroparks, Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) and Kent State University, aims to educate visitors as they explore the region's parks. Similar to other apps created for national and state parks, the new software, currently available for free on iTunes, places points of interest on a digital map where users learn about the history and ecology of our precious green space, says Patrick Lorch, manager of field research for Cleveland Metroparks.
 
The map currently has 200 points covering topics like wildflowers, geology and marsh habitats. Through a feature called "Adventure Tracks," a user's mobile device pings them to stop and engage with pre-determined points along a trail or path. Completed trails earn visitors digital badges as a reward.
 
"The map is the basis for everything," says Lorch. "Points on the map are the equivalent of a sign at the side of a trail."
 
Another feature called "My ParkApps" lets users create their own maps, giving them free access to an accompanying website that records their hikes in the park. "Citizen Science," meanwhile, asks participants to share photos of the same park features over time, allowing officials to study stream bank erosion and other changes in habitat.
 
The app project, funded by a three-year, $800,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Advancing Informal STEM Learning initiative, will test the feasibility of app technology in parks while studying the impact of mobile devices on informal science learning. Along with the educational piece, combining technology and nature is a new way to explain park management activities such as the culling of invasive species or protecting particular natural resources, Lorch says.
 
"People ask us why we're pulling plants they find attractive," he says. "We want to help people understand the ecological reason for these things, because that's often not clear."
 
Future versions of the tool will include availability on Android devices and an identification option where visitors can get help identifying plants, trees and animals.
 
"I can imagine a fishermen recording their favorite fishing spots and tagging them with a photo," says Lorch. "How people use the app could point to a general direction for us."

The Cleveland Metroparks is part of Fresh Water's underwriting network.

Metroparks a-buzz over cicada emergence

Parts of eastern Ohio will be abuzz for the next couple of months with the emergence of the 17-year periodical cicadas. Cleveland Metroparks is using this rare opportunity to educate the public about a mysterious, yet harmless insect.
 
"We want our neighbors to join us and understand how this organism survives and thrives," says Mark Warman, an education specialist at the West Creek Reservation.  

April's warm temperatures will hasten cicada activity by mid-May, says Warman. The park system's cicada-related programming begins May 10 at West Creek with a primer about the creatures' life cycle. Additional events scheduled through the end of June include nature walks and a birding/cicada expedition on Hinckley Lake.
 
Mark WarmanNaturalists view the cicada invasion as a cause for celebration rather than concern. While the insects can be noisy in large numbers, they don't sting or bite. Nor are they bent on destroying crops or gardens in some biblical plant Armageddon. Cicadas can cause branches to fall off through egg-laying, but this is not harmful to mature trees, says Warman.
 
Periodical cicadas are expected to emerge in parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Long Island, NY. Unlike their greenish-black cousins that appear each summer with a "ch-ch-ch" sound, the 17-year cicada is black and orange and makes a continuous buzzing noise.
 
This year's crop started life as eggs in 1999. After hatching, the rice-sized nymphs spent the past 17 years underground sucking nutrient-rich fluids from tree roots. The winged adults emerge for three to five weeks to mate and feed on plant juices. Females will then lay hundreds of eggs in tree branches, beginning the cycle anew.
 
While it's unknown where heavier pockets of Northeast Ohio cicada activity will be, the public can help by sending tweets and Instagram posts regarding larger swarms. Metroparks is asking would-be citizen scientists to report sightings with the hashtags #cicadas2016 and #broodV, the latter of which designates the number of cicada swarms recorded since 1948.
 
Ultimately, the phenomenon is a chance for people to learn about a misunderstood insect that means humanity no harm, Warman says.
 
"It's a reminder that the earth was wild at one time," he says. "It's going to be a neat thing for people to experience."

The Cleveland Metroparks is part of Fresh Water's underwriting network.
 

Delivery service sprouts up, offers nutritious eats for downtowners

Many time-crunched office dwellers are at a loss when it comes to choosing lunch, says Sarah Melton, founder of Young Sprouts, a new made-to-order meal service that delivers farm-fresh food to downtown workers.

Research shows that typical corporate meal breaks aren't beneficial to overall worker productivity, especially when good nutrition is not on the menu, Melton says.

“Many people want to eat healthy, but not a lot of them have the time to make the meals the way they should be made," she says. "That’s where we come in.”

Young Sprouts' bicycle-delivered meals are an organic answer to less-than-healthy lunches that can be obstacles to better business, says Melton, who launched her company last November.
 
Melton’s venture follows a trend in corporate meal delivery, where services like LunchOwl and SowFood have work-better agendas underlying their menus. A 2011 study in Population Health Management states that poor eating habits are responsible for more than 60 percent of low productivity. In 2013, Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) reported that a nutritious lunch could raise worker efficiency by as much as 25 percent.
 
Melton and her chef prepare “nutrient-dense,” box-ready meals. Try chicken sandwiches, nori rolls, chilis and soups, all freshly prepared at the Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen. The menu ranges from $4 yogurt parfaits to $9 penne pasta dishes. A summer menu will focus more on cooler, salad-leaning items.

A counselor-turned-foodie, Melton initially conceived the idea of Young Sprouts while working with ex-cons, impoverished families and other at-risk individuals. She's since hired on some of the people she counseled as delivery riders.

Melton aimed to make Young Sprouts happen mostly to “prove that there could be a viable business like this," she says, "keeping food sourced mostly local, avoiding the big box stores - that it’s all possible.”

The “healthy” theme runs throughout the operation from the uniforms worn by delivery people to the compost-friendly boxes housing the meals. Melton aims to align Young Sprouts with strict environmental standards set by the nonprofit B Lab. In addition, the company donates a portion of sales to 1% for the Planet, which directs the funds to a sustainability-oriented nonprofit of Melton's choosing.
 
The food entrepreneur's overall goal is to get all of her goods sourced from Ohio farms within a 100-mile radius. Melton made a connection with Cleveland-based Green City Growers for that very purpose.
 
The all-green image is paying off, says Melton. Young Sprouts customers are smitten with the concept and its meals, especially the chili brisket.

“Instead of having some carb-laced lunch that gets catered to your meeting, they bring these really whole, actually good-for-you meals,” says Carl Baldesare, an avid Young Spouts user and head of Keep It Local, a community organization that promotes small businesses. “It’s amazing.” 

As marketing execs and financial reps continue to rave about the nascent company's meals and mission statement, Melton remains cognizant of the reason behind the good feedback.

“I don’t think it’s well-known how connected our physical health is to our mental health,” she says. “I want to use to this business to bring this to people’s attention. And, of course, to make healthy eating easy.”

Cleveland Neighborhood Progress announces finalists for Vibrant City Awards

Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (CNP) has announced 21 finalists for its 2016 Vibrant City Awards. Winners will be revealed on May 2 at the second annual Vibrant City Awards Lunch, hosted by CNP and presented by Key Bank and Community Blight Solutions.
 
“We are proud to convene community partners and stakeholders to celebrate city neighborhoods. These leading efforts in neighborhood revitalization are what help us all create a vibrant city,” says Joel Ratner, president and CEO of CNP. “The organizations and individuals being honored have displayed tremendous passion, dedication and collaboration. We’re excited to recognize them for their successful efforts in community development.”
 
CNP received more than 70 nominations for this year's awards.
 
“The complete list of nominations tells an inspiring story of neighborhood transformation that is taking place in Cleveland," says Jeff Kipp, CNP's director of neighborhood marketing for the organization. "From community development corporations to corporate partners and everyone in between, there are amazing people performing incredible work in our neighborhoods.”
 
Additionally, CNP will present the Morton L. Mandel Leadership in Community Development Award and the first ever Vibrant City Impact Award at the May 2 luncheon. During the event, civic leaders, community development professionals, local developers, investors, realtors and passionate Clevelanders will gather to celebrate neighborhoods at the Cleveland Masonic Auditorium, 3615 Euclid Ave., an iconic structure located in Midtown on the RTA Healthline. A locally sourced meal catered by chef Chris Hodgson of Driftwood Catering will be served. This event is open to the public. More information and registration details are available online.
 
The 2016 Vibrant City Awards finalists include:
 
• CDC Community Collaboration Award
 
Ohio City Inc. – Station Hope
Held in May 2015, Station Hope, a collaboration of Ohio City, Inc., Cleveland Public Theatre, Saint John’s Episcopal Church and Councilman Joe Cimperman, was a free multi-arts event that celebrated the history of St. John’s Church, the triumphs of the Underground Railroad, and contemporary struggles for freedom and justice. Station Hope featured a diverse selection of theatre and performance ensembles, including more than 30 companies and 150 individual artists.

Station Hope
 
Slavic Village Development – Cleveland Orchestra at Home in Slavic Village
In spring 2015, The Cleveland Orchestra At Home in Slavic Village residency brought a world-class orchestra to the Broadway Slavic Village neighborhood. Partners included Slavic Village Development, the Cleveland Orchestra, Broadway School of Music and the Arts, the Broadway Boys and Girls Club, cultural organizations, and area churches and schools. In April, the orchestra performed a free public concert for an audience of 1,000 at Our Lady of Lourdes Church. The residency continued throughout the year with a host of events.
 
Stockyards, Clark Fulton, Brooklyn Centre Community Development Office – La Placita
In 2015, the Stockyard, Clark Fulton and Brooklyn Centre Community Development Office partnered with the Hispanic Business Center and local businesses and entrepreneurs to launch La Placita, an open air market near the intersection of Clark Avenue and West 25th Street that featured 24 local vendors and cultural offerings for five Saturday events that attracted thousands. The events also served as an effective venue to showcase “La Villa Hispana,” which is home to a growing ethnic population in the City of Cleveland.
 
• CDC Placemaking Award
 
MidTown Cleveland – East 55th Street railroad bridge mural
The railroad bridge above the intersection of Euclid Avenue and East 55th Street has been transformed into a symbol of the innovation and emerging economy embodied in the MidTown neighborhood and the Health-Tech Corridor. The mural, designed by Twist Creative, Inc., includes a graphic of DNA molecules, and logos of MidTown Cleveland, the City of Cleveland, BioEnterprise and the Cleveland Foundation.

E55th St mural
 
Slavic Village Development – Cycle of Arches
The Cycle of Arches installation evokes allusions to nature such as trees or grasses bending in the wind, while nodding to the industrial heritage of the community by representing the neighborhood's "steel roots" with its steel tube construction. Part of the $8 million Broadway Streetscape and Road Improvement Project, the installation is located at the intersection of E.49th Street and Broadway Avenue. Jonathan Kurtz, AIA, designed Cycle of Arches. Partners included Slavic Village Development, Land Studio and the City of Cleveland.
 
University Circle Inc. – Wade Oval improvements
University Circle Inc. recently invested in several improvements to Wade Oval including a permanent musical park that offers four large-scale instruments, benches, Adirondack chairs and a chalkboard with the “This is CLE to Me…” tagline emblazoned across the top. Visitors are encouraged to creatively express themselves in this eclectic area.

University Circle Inc. Wade Oval improvements
 
• CDC Economic Opportunity Award
 
Famicos Foundation – Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program management
Famicos Foundation weaves together a diverse portfolio of economic opportunity programming to aid family financial stability in the Glenville neighborhood. In 2015, the organization helped complete 1,917 tax returns with a total refund of $2.3 million for residents. 549 of those returns were for EITC clients and those individuals received $869,000 in refunds. Also in 2015, while participating in a pilot program, Famicos referred 90 tax preparation clients interested in receiving one-on-one financial counseling to the Community Financial Centers.
 
Stockyards, Clark Fulton, Brooklyn Centre Community Development Office – La Placita
The Stockyard, Clark Fulton, Brooklyn Centre Community Development Office was instrumental in the planning and implementation of "La Placita," which served as a catalyst project encouraging collaboration between the local CDC and stakeholders in the community. This initiative served as a business incubator for new businesses with free business training and as an accelerator for established businesses. Situated in an economically challenged food dessert, "La Placita" also served as an access point for fresh, affordable produce and culturally relevant prepared foods and ingredients.
 
University Circle, Inc. – Business outreach and development efforts
In 2015, University Circle Inc's business outreach and development efforts included three key components: the Uptown Business Association (UBA), NextStep: Strategies for Business Growth and a financial literacy and QuickBooks bookkeeping program, all of which fostered networking amid business owners in the greater University Circle area. UCI consistently convenes the 17 NextStep alumni, a current class of nine business owners, 65 UBA members, and seven bookkeeping program participants at UBA meetings to network, enhance their skills and find new opportunities. 
 
• CDC Neighborhood Branding & Marketing Award
 
Northeast Shores Development Corp. – Welcome to Collinwood website
With the help of the CDC, the neighborhood has taken its brand as Cleveland's premiere artists’ neighborhood to a new level with the Welcome to Collinwood website. The homepage offers an artistic display of images and designs, and visitors are met with compelling copy that boasts the compelling opportunities available to artists in Collinwood. 
 
Slavic Village Development – Rooms to Let
St. Rooms To Let, a temporary art installation in vacant homes created by Slavic Village Development, was a successful marketing event that changed perceptions about the surrounding neighborhood. In May 2015, more than 1,000 visitors toured St. Rooms to Let, which included installations by 30 artists, live music performances and activities for children.

Rooms to Let 2015
 
Clair Superior Development Corp. & Campus District, Inc. – Night Market Cleveland
St. Clair Superior Development Corp. and Campus District Inc. teamed up last summer to spark awareness, foster a creative economy, and bring attention to the hidden gems of AsiaTown and the Superior Arts District with Night Market Cleveland - a series of four summer events with local art vendors, Asian food and cultural entertainment. The inaugural season attracted a staggering 50,000 attendees and garnered coverage in 22 media publications.
 
• Corporate Partner Award
 
Community Blight Solutions
Community Blight Solutions focuses on understanding, solving, and eliminating blight. Prominent solutions currently include promotion of the organization's SecureView product and the Slavic Village Recovery Project, which aims to align demolition and rehabilitation to eradicate blight one block at a time and fosters corporate volunteerism amid the area's for-profit partners. The project is also focused on gaining access to a critical mass of real estate owned properties and those that are abandoned with the intention of either demolition or rehabilitation.
 
Dave’s Supermarkets
Dave’s Supermarkets' portfolio of stores sells products that match the profile of the communities they serve while their employees and customer base reflect Cleveland’s diverse population. Asian, Hispanic, African American and Caucasian residents all feel at home at Dave’s Supermarket. Dave’s has provided significant financial support in the form of food donations to community organizations, churches, and neighborhood groups. The local chain employs over 1,000 people in 14 stores, providing health care and retirement benefits to hard-working Cleveland residents.
 
PNC Bank
PNC was the lead sponsor of UCI’s summer concert series, Wade Oval Wednesdays – WOW! - a free weekly concert that draws up to 5,000 attendees. In addition, PNC supported UCI’s Clean and Safe Ambassador program expansion from seasonal to year-round with twice as many staff.  Additionally, PNC supported the creation and development of a children’s map and activity book to complement UCI’s newest education initiative, Circle Walk, a 40-point interpretive program set to launch in May 2016.
 
• Urban Developer Award:
 
Case Development – Mike DeCesare
Mike DeCesare of Case Development has been a pioneer in residential development in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood, which he also calls home. He successfully finished the Waverly Station community in 2015 and completed the Harborview development at Herman Avenue and West 54th Street.
 
Geis Companies – Fred Geis
Fred Geis instigated the MidTown Tech Park, which boasts nearly 250,000 square feet of office and laboratory space leased to health and technology firms, and is part of the growing Health-Tech corridor. One of Geis’s most transformational projects is The 9, into which Geis moved its headquarters from Streetsboro. This spring, Geis will break ground on an Ohio City project converting the industrial Storer Meat Co. facility into 67 market-rate apartments. Fred Geis was also recently appointed to the Cleveland Planning Commission and will donate his stipend to the Dream Neighborhood refugee housing initiative.
 
Vintage Development Group – Chip Marous
Vintage Development Group provides well-built multi-family residential properties in Detroit Shoreway and Ohio City, thereby helping to support the associated commercial districts with residential opportunities and financial support. Not to be content with the footprint of his Battery Park project, Marous has executed plans for expanding it. His passion for complete, walkable urban development is made possible through established relationships in Cleveland’s urban neighborhoods.
 
• Civic Champion Award:
 
Joseph Black – Central neighborhood
Joe Black is committed to Central neighborhood youth. He is currently the Neighborhood Engagement Manager for the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland. As the leader of the engagement team, he is responsible for fostering a seamless experience for youth and families to progress through their education from cradle to career. Black’s passion was sparked by personal experiences with the inequities linked to men of color, and has since matured into a responsibility to serve “at risk” communities. He is a tireless, dedicated community volunteer, mentoring youth at his day job as well as during his free time.
 
Charles Gliha – Slavic Village neighborhood
Lifelong Slavic Village resident Charles Gliha strives to improve the neighborhood with art, civic engagement and business development. As founder of Broadway Public Art, he has championed the Warszawa Music Festival, is the founder of Street Repair Music Festival, organizes the Polish Constitution Day Parade, and volunteers at Rooms to Let. Gliha is an active member of the Slavic Village Neighborhood Summit planning committee and hosts cash mobs and live music events in area retail establishments. He also created a printed business directory and garnered $25,000 in grants for the neighborhood.

Slavic Village
 
Alison Lukacsy – Collinwood neighborhood
A Cleveland transplant turned North Collinwood artist, advocate and promoter, Alison Lukacsy sees opportunities where others see problems. She has secured over $20,000 in grants, resulting in projects such as Storefront Activation utilizing debris from Adopt-a-Beach cleanups, Phone Gallery - Cleveland's smallest curated art gallery, a Collinwood Vibrancy Project, Yarn n’ Yoga on Euclid Beach Pier, Euclid Beach Book Box, and Bus Stop Moves RTA shelter exercises.
 

In search of Lake Erie: Tracing streams' paths and histories

When Jim Miller retired as a Cleveland Heights probation officer nine years ago, he developed a rather unusual hobby: he began tracing the brooks and streams flowing through Cleveland’s east side, seeking out where they exist and where they flow underground all the way to Lake Erie.
 
“I began just looking at local waterways, trying to detect them and their link to the lake,” Miller recalls, adding that some streambeds are exposed and others have been erased over the decades. "When you look at it, it’s often a strong economic reason.”

Miller explains the economic correlation: he often found waterways that were buried on smaller properties, while the streams ran open on larger plots of land. “On a 1912 plot map, on the bigger lot sizes the stream is in the open,” he says. “By Coventry School on Lancashire Road, it goes under. By the Rockefeller estate and Forest Hills Park, it’s open.”
 
Miller’s interest in the waterways was piqued 15 years ago after reading his friend and Green City Blue Lake director David Beach's account of a bike ride along the Dugway Brook watershed, which runs through the Heights, into East Cleveland, Cleveland and Bratenahl before emptying into Lake Erie.
 
“You have to get some pretty good rubber boots to do this," he says. "It’s often not so clear what land you’re on. It’s often city land or hasn’t been lived on for 100 years. You have to do a lot of research to find out, because it’s kind of no-man’s land.”
 
Miller explains that “Dugway Brook is one of the bluestone creeks that were of great economic benefit to the early European settlers in the 19th century,” he says of the long-gone quarries, "but which then were deemed of no value in the 20th century." Much of Dugway was buried in culverts.
 
Miller has also traveled portions of Green CreekDoan Brook and Nine Mile Creek, much of which is under Belvoir Boulevard, but there are sections still flowing in the open. “It’s in a steep ravine, so it couldn’t be built on,” says Miller. “If it had been a park, it would have been covered over.”
 
In fact, Miller cites a section of Dugway Brook between Lee Road and Euclid Heights Boulevard, near Cain Park, that was filled in during the 1980s to make way for a parking lot. Residents resisted the parking lot idea so the land remains vacant, although no water can be seen.
 
A reclamation success story, however, exists along a portion of Nine Mile Creek in South Euclid across from Notre Dame College. The city created a wetland area and planted native plants such as milkweed to attract birds and monarch butterflies. “It really looks nice and that branch of Nine Mike Creek has taken on life,” Miller says. “It isn’t the way it looked 100 years ago, but it’s nice.”
 
Further down, on Euclid Avenue, the creek now runs buried beside Luster Tannery, a circa 1848 building on the Cleveland-East Cleveland border. The tannery diverted essential water from the creek for its work in the 19th century. “When you get to Euclid Avenue, there is a building there that is probably the oldest industrial structure in the city,” explains Miller. It’s made of solid stone and the creek runs through the building.”
 
But Miller’s true love of the east side watersheds lies in Dugway Brook. He’s had marker signs erected, mostly along Lee Road in Cleveland Heights. “You probably didn’t even know this little stream had a name,” he says. “We can have wetlands there, so you can have water soaking in to prevent runoff and attract birds.”
 
Miller encourages people to keep an eye out for natural dips in the road – often indicating the presence of Dugway or other area watersheds.  
 
His treks have sometimes been perilous, but it’s worth the journey. “It’s very hard to walk and see these things,” he warns. “In many cases, it’s quite difficult. You go down and it’s a steep slope. You have to do it slowly.”
 
But Miller frequently co-leads tamer walks around these creeks and watersheds. In 2014 he helped lead a tour of Dugway Brook east branch from Cain Park down to Forest Hills Park.
 
Another walk, led by Roy Larick, along with Miller and Korbi Roberts, is tentatively scheduled for May. "Cleveland Heights Rocks & Waters 2016: Nine Mile Creek" is part of the annual Preservation Month, co-sponsored by the Cleveland Heights Historical Society, Cleveland Heights Landmark Commission, Noble Neighbors and Heights Library.
 
On sidewalks and forest paths, the hike follows Quilliams Creek on its course to join Nine Mile Creek. Participants will learn the local geology, ecology and history as well as discuss how best to conserve this unique bluestone landscape. 
 
Miller has documented his explorations through a photo journal on Facebook. He’s also logged his trips along Dugway on YouTube.

Neighborhood Progress tackling climate resilience with grant money

In a collaborative effort with the city of Cleveland's office of sustainability, four community development corporations and other groups, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (CNP) is attempting to address the issues around climate resilience – the sustainability factors surrounding climate change.
 
Now, the organization will get additional help with its plans through a $660,000 grant over three years from the Kresge Foundation’s Climate Resilience and Urban Opportunity Initiative, which aims to improve the resilience of low-income communities in the face of climate change.
 
CNP will work with four neighborhoods – Glenville, Slavic Village, Central and Detroit Shoreway – that face a variety of sustainability issues. “We picked the four that best represented the range of typology related to the concentration of vacant land and related to economic diversity,” explains Linda Warren, CNP’s senior vice president of placemaking.
 
In lower income areas, heating and cooling costs during extreme temperatures put a financial burden on residents. Warren cites the Central neighborhood as a most fragile in terms of resilience, while the Detroit Shoreway is the least fragile of the four neighborhoods.
 
Warren explains that vacant land also translates into greater issues with heating and cooling in extreme temperature. “One of the issues in urban places is low tree canopy and high concentrations of heat island effect, making cities warmer than rural places and suburbs,” she explains. “Green space offsets that both by providing alternatives to concrete, which holds the heat, and as places to plant trees, which generate multiple benefits.”
 
In 2014 CNP received a planning grant from the Kresge Foundation. The plan identified projects, programs, policies, engagement strategies, and future research to lessen overall demand for energy, anticipate and prepare for climate changes and shocks, and foster social cohesion.
 
Cleveland was the only freshwater city of the 12 cities receiving money from Kresge’s $8 million pledge.
 
CNP will use the grant to hire 20 neighborhood climate ambassadors; advance climate adaptation strategies; build off of Cleveland’s weatherization and energy programs; and create strategies for the best possible usage of vacant land. The best practices identified will later be implemented in other neighborhoods.
 
CNP plans to implement its program in the beginning of the year. The group is now looking for ambassadors, who will get a small stipend for their work, and a climate resilience coordinator to lead the efforts.  

New app to help users find waterfront access points, appreciate Lake Erie

The West Creek Conservancy, a group focused on preserving natural habitats and expanding opportunities to experience nature, is developing a new mobile app that will allow users to locate a watershed, map water-related public access points and learn more about that river or stream.
 
Developers hope the app will help people get out and explore Ohio’s Lake Erie basin. The app will serve as a mobile version of ODNR’s Coastal and River Access guide. It will use the phone’s GPS to direct users to the nearest water access points.
 
“The real idea here is we have such a great asset at our back door and people don’t know how to get to it,” says Derek Schafer, West Creek’s executive director. “When you get access to it, you care about it. If you’re recreating on it, you love it and want to keep it healthy.”
 
Schafer is hesitant to use the term “watershed” when talking about the yet-to-be-named app. “It sounds like a regulatory term,” he explains. “This is to hook, line and sinker get people to the water – whether it’s a boat launch, a canoe put-in, marina, whatever it is. Get them to know where to get to the water – all of the rivers and all lake access points in all of Lake Erie.”
 
But the app isn’t just about waterfront fun. It’s also designed to get users involved in conservation and advocacy groups. “It’s about getting people engaged in advocacy, to action,” Schafer says. “It’s how to get people to the Lake Erie coastline, watersheds and all the rivers. It’s about how to get people to them, enjoy then and then once you get there, you get them to respect them and enjoy them.”
 
The app, which is scheduled to be completed in beta version for IOS by the end of the year and Android sometime next year, will feature Lake Erie and watershed protection tips, a photo gallery, Lake Erie and watershed FAQs, newsletter and links to advocacy groups.
 
West Creek Conservancy is still trying to decide on a catchy name for the app. Anyone with a good name idea can email Schafer with it. 

Jakprints combines cutting edge print technology with environmental standards

Custom printing company Jakprints has always been on the cutting edge with its technology as well as its commitment to the environment. Jakprints recently teamed up with Heidelberg USA to bring the Speedmaster XL 75 Anicolor press to its offices. The green-friendly press is the first of its kind to be installed in North America, says CEO Nick DeTomaso.
 
While Jakprints has been doing digital printing for the past 13 of its 16 years in business, DeTomaso has never seen the efficiency Heidelberg’s new press offers in terms of both quality and speed.  

“The technology has matured, but it’s evolved quickly enough that it changes,” he says. “We’re very heavily involved in the graphic design community, and they have an eye for quality.”
 
The Speedmaster is billed as having the top efficiency, versatility and environmental friendliness in a digital format. “Everybody’s trying to get digital print efficiency,” says DeTomaso. “For the printing industry of America, this is the direct mail wave of the future.”
 
In addition, the Speedmaster fits with Jakprints’ environmental commitment. The press uses only 20 to 30 sheets of paper to make something ready for printing, whereas older offset models use between 500 and 1,000 sheets.
 
“That motivated us to make this move,” says DeTomaso. “We’ve always found ways to reduce waste. This is a huge advancement for us and will save over one million press sheets this year.”
 
Jakprints also uses soy and vegetable-based inks with zero-VOC press washes. Founded by Dameon Guess and Jacob Edwards, the company has grown to 250 employees in its Midtown headquarters and has earned a reputation for being environmentally conscious. 

KeyBank prides itself on sustainability in and out of the workplace

Four years ago, KeyCorp, one of the nation's largest bank-based financial services companies, released its first corporate responsibility report to demonstrate its commitment to responsible operations.

A big part of that report illustrates Key’s commitment to sustainable practices. In May, the bank released its fourth corporate responsibility report for 2014. A large part of that report centers on “responsible operations” -- a commitment to green building practices, reduced waste and reduced energy consumption.

That commitment translates into a good corporate neighbor to Clevelanders. “At Key we look at the operational footprint as well as our impact on the community,” explains Andrew Watterson, head of sustainability at KeyBank. For instance, Key’s Tiedeman Road facility, which employs 3,000 workers, is Leadership and Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certified, the highest of four levels recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

“Beyond energy efficiencies, we focus on waste streams, particularly paper,” says Watterson. “We’re really proud of where we’ve come in the last five years. Key has reduced paper use by 60 percent and the goal is to reduce use by an additional 30 percent by 2020."

“We’re performing significantly better than our peers,” he boasts.

The environmental concerns transfer over to the retail side of Key’s operations as well. Last year saw a 40 percent jump in the number of mobile accounts and 80 percent of Key’s active accounts now rely on e-statements.
 
Waste reduction also relies on Key employees across the bank’s facilities. During Green Office Week in April, Key employees were reminded of what they can do to reduce paper usage and even tracked the amount of food they threw away at lunch “to measure how much food waste is being generated on a daily basis,” says Watterson. On Waste Recycling Day, employees brought paper from home for shredding and recycling.
 
Employees also are charged with making sure the recycling containers on every floor are well placed and labeled. “We won’t be successful without engaging our employees in our efforts,” says Watterson, who also polls employees on areas of improvement in sustainability.
 
Key and its employees regularly sponsor and participate in community activities. Furthermore, Key boasts that it was one of the first backers of Sustainable Cleveland 2019, the initiative to encourage residents to implement green practices.

“Key was one of the early supporters of Sustainable Cleveland 2019 since it launched in 2009,” says Watterson. “We encourage employee participation and attend the summits.”

new sustainability director sees a green future for cuyahoga county

As the first director of the newly-created Cuyahoga County Department of Sustainability, Mike Foley has visions of Cuyahoga County being a leader in green practices.

“I absolutely believe Cuyahoga can be the greenest county in the state,” Foley says. “We are lucky to have a lot of smart people, good public officials and a solid base of residents and businesses who understand that reducing our carbon footprint is the only sane alternative in the face of climate change.  But I also don’t believe this is a county-by-county competition. Cuyahoga should become as green as possible because it’s the right thing to do." 

Last week, Cuyahoga County executive Armond Budish launched the Cuyahoga County Department of Sustainability and announced Michael Foley as its first director and Shanelle Smith as its first deputy director.

According to a news release,the sustainability department will promote economic development activity that supports businesses that provide environmentally sustainable products and services; educate the public about environmentally sustainable practices; and collaborate with businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies to develop programs incorporating environmentally sustainable methods into accepted practices.

Foley says his priority is to make environmentally-friendly practices understandable and accessible to all businesses and residents in the county. While he is still getting his feet wet in the new position, Foley has a background in environmentalism and energy efficiency issues as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives.

“Climate change is important to the county, to the state, to the nation, to the world, and we need to address it,” Foley says. “I want to be a part of the minds to work on this stuff. I think that economic and social benefits come to those who adopt renewable and energy efficiency measures as soon as possible. Everybody, everywhere needs to be working towards the same greenhouse gas reduction goals in order to stave off real harm to the planet.”

Some of Foley’s early goals include investing in energy efficient technologies, solar power and collective buying power for groups. “You can’t do it one-off, you want to be a part of a group,” he explains. “We really want to make energy efficiency and green energy, such as solar power, more normal and not such a complicated concept.”
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