Shelterforce, the nation's oldest continually published housing and community development magazine, recently devoted considerable attention to Cleveland's Evergreen Cooperatives. Written by Miriam Axel-Lute, an associate director at the National Housing Institute, the article tells how cities and governments are taking notice of the paradigm.
Titled "Green Jobs with Roots," the piece begins with powerful lede:
In a couple years, residents of some of the poorest neighborhoods in Cleveland will be the collective owners of the largest collection of solar panels in the state of Ohio. Next door, sixty locations on the Cleveland Clinic's campus will be serving salads made from locally grown lettuce year-round—where local means not "a farm closer than California," but a greenhouse staffed and owned by neighborhood residents on a former brownfield mere miles away.
In this paragraph, Axel-Lute gets to the heart of the Evergreen model of buying local on an institutional level:
The local procurement angle means that the coop's customers are likely to stay put as well. Rather than launching businesses based on workforce skill sets or entrepreneurial ideas, the Evergreen working group started by looking at the $3 billion per year that the 40 some University Circle anchor institutions already spend on goods and services and asking what parts of that spending they could redirect locally.
And finally, Axel-Lute writes that other cities and national officials are taking notice.
Even though it's just getting off the ground, queries about the Evergreen model have been pouring in, with cities from Pittsburgh to Atlanta meeting with Howard or filling up busloads of community leaders to visit Cleveland. Evergreen has been the subject of numerous high-level briefings at the federal level and visits by top HUD officials.
Read the entire analysis here.