Mark Oprea
Mark Oprea

Stories by: Mark Oprea

Mark Oprea is a regular contributor to FreshWater Cleveland. He’s written for the Pacific Standard, OZY, and Cleveland Magazine, and was a correspondent in Mexico in 2018. He lives in Ohio City. More of his work can be found on his personal website.
Linked: AT&T Connected Learning Center opens at Esperanza, plugs in the Clark-Fulton community
With 14 Dell PCs equipped with a range of software, the now-open AT&T Connected Learning Center in Esperanza is meant to add ammunition to one of Cleveland’s sorest setbacks—fixing its digital divide.
‘I Thank God For This:’ Kinsman residents welcome new affordable housing
Residents and officials celebrated the opening of Colfax Family Homes last week.
With timber in port, INTRO begins its rise to become the country’s tallest all-wood building
In early November, after three weeks on the Atlantic, 3,000 cubic meters of Austrian timber arrived at the Port of Cleveland for the INTRO project in Ohio City. Let the building of the country's tallest wood building begin!
'LatinOH' voters in Northeast Ohio take it to the streets to wave their party flags
With the Presidential election finally upon us today, one group of Latino voters in Ohio is trying to make the state swing in their favor. 
24 Hours in #CLE: DJ personality Rachel Hunt lines up her perfect day in the city
A connoisseur of Cleveland, networking whiz Rachel Hunt shares some of her favorite spots for eating, drinking, shopping and just hanging out in our town.
Organizers must restore trust to combat Glenville's lead crisis, with federal grant's help
Glenville is ground zero for Cleveland’s lead crisis. Federal dollars are flowing in to address the issue, but will it be enough?
RTA ridership is at a historic low. Can an advocacy group help reverse a ‘death spiral’?
With ridership continuing to fall, RTA faces a big year of decision making, as a citizen advocacy group watches attentively from the sidelines.
5 green jobs that are making an impact in Cleveland
Meet five Clevelanders working hard to keep the environment clean and green.
Opportunity zones were designed to spur development in poor areas. Are they doing the job?
Opportunity zones supposedly were intended to be good for investors and poor neighborhoods alike. Two years after their creation, the benefits for all city residents are still in dispute.
The future of La Villa Hispana: These 5 projects are set to transform the Clark-Fulton neighborhood
Change is coming to Clark-Fulton, in no small part due to these five energizing new projects.
La Villa Hispana's newly formed Colectivo network is helping local Latinx artists shine
With the help of a $50,000 Cuyahoga Arts & Culture grant, the Hispanic Business Center is helping Latinx artists get more exposure, increase their reach, and receive business development support via the new Artist Colectivo network.
Clark-Fulton is a known food desert. Can new health initiatives change the way a neighborhood eats?
Hispanic Americans are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than non-Hispanic whites, a fact that doesn't escape residents of Clark-Fulton—home to Cleveland's largest Hispanic/Latino population. Meet the changemakers working toward prevention and healthier eating options for the neighborhood.
Safety first: How Hispanic police officers and residents are ensuring a safer Clark-Fulton
Meet the local heroes working to restore a sense of safety in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood.
Las Tienditas welcomes the flavors of Southern Puerto Rico in its latest grand opening
Jean Garcia and Xaidy Rodriguez aren’t like other siblings their age.

For one, they’re both bilingual transplants native to Ponce, Puerto Rico, a small city of 145,000 on the southern part of the island. At 19 and 15 respectfully, Garcia and sister Rodriguez helm one of the youngest restaurant startups to open on Cleveland’s West Side, well, in ages.
The long-standing Hispanic social clubs of La Villa Hispana are finding new form for the future
Hispanic social clubs are deeply rooted in La Villa Hispana's past. A new generation of young leaders is ensuring their future.
With Fiesta of Hope scholarships in pocket, Clark-Fulton students look forward to brighter futures
Samuel Paredes was 16 years old when he secretly applied for a U.S. visa. His parents had just gotten divorced, and he was still living in Ipiales, a city of 160,000 on the southern border of Colombia. Shortly after the death of his grandmother, he expressed to his mother and father his desire to study cybersecurity—born from witnessing political upheaval—at an American college.
An exam away from certification, Hispanic nurses rise above language barriers to reclaim careers
The women come from a variety of backgrounds. Some work in factories or grocery chains, others as school lunch ladies, making $8 to $9 an hour. Others are Hurricane Maria refugees who work for Burlington, some for U.S. Cotton, supporting families as they tilt on the poverty line.

All have one thing in common: the dream to one day be registered nurses.
At a newly-madeover Miss Latina Image, a cultural celebration of womanhood takes the runway
It’s 20 minutes before showtime, in a small banquet room at the Julia de Burgos Cultural Center, and Yasin Cuevas is glowingly ecstatic. For one, her first-ever Miss Latina Image fashion show—expanded from “Miss Puerto Rican Image” of years past—has attracted a packed house, more than any other program in the past few years. It’s also a signal of much more: a newer, more diverse Clark-Fulton community, one more gung-ho on the self-education of its youth, as La Villa Hispana grows gradually into the fore.
Portrait of a neighborhood: How cultural hub La Villa Hispana is evolving and embracing its future
On a recent Thursday in April, Jenice Contreras walked in front of 32 investors, architects, and community development corporation reps to announce some long-awaited news. “It’s a perfect storm,” she announced to the group at the Greater Cleveland Partnership offices downtown. “It took three decades. But we no longer need three decades to make it happen. All the right elements are now in place.”
La Villa Hispana begins a new chapter with the food entrepreneurs who helped shape it
When Haguit Marrero got word that the Hispanic Business Center was assisting startups, it sparked an idea: she would cater the same recipes her mother and grandmother had taught her on the island when she was a kid. Enter Pura Cepa (‘full-blooded’), her culinary attempt to return Puerto Rican cuisine to its faraway roots. “When you’re on the island,” she says, “people always ask, ‘Are you pura cepa?’ I want other people like me to be proud of saying, Si, soy.”

Today Pura Cepa is one of four businesses spotlighted in La Villa Hispana’s latest development in business incubation: Las Tienditas del Mercado.