The New Year: A new mayor; more of everything good

FreshWater writers Brandon Baker and Mark Oprea anticipate Mayor-elect Justin Bibb taking the city's reins, while Kelly Quinn Sands looks forward to more of everything good in Cleveland.

A modern city
by Brandon Baker
In 2022, Clevelanders will begin to see some of the modernization they have long yearned for–or at least the planning required to make that modernization a reality. Mayor-elect Justin Bibb spoke frequently on the campaign trail about implementing smart parking meters, updating the city’s website, and installing satellite service kiosks to quickly help residents around town. While no new administration can accomplish all of its goals in year one, I predict enough substantive planning around these elements and more to make people feel confident that we are on a new, more modern path.

Justin BibbA new and improved city
by Mark Oprea

Justin Bibb, Cleveland’s mayor-elect, told me five months before he won the election against Kevin Kelley that he was going to try to reverse the city’s notorious inferiority complex (you know the one).

It’s too early in the game to properly place bets on Bibb’s gargantuan task—from minimizing the plentiful vacant storefronts on Euclid Avenue, to ensuring ARPA dollars are spent on east side blight, to crystallizing Issue 24.

But one thing is clear: 2022 will be the first time in 16 years we get a fresh outlook not on how local politics works, but how it could work better. 
Mayor Jackson was a quiet-but-effective leader in his tenure, with his quirks, family drama and by-the-book leadership (personally, I’ll miss his soothing welcome home at Cleveland-Hopkins).

 But Bibb has the opportunity, despite his stance on the political spectrum, to sell a newer, better version of Cleveland to constituents who’ve been for years demoralized by a lax and distant City Hall.

Touting a diverse transition team and posting presidential ‘round town shots on Twitter is surely different. But the question is, Will the can-do energy of Bibb’s successful campaign wane in six months, or will it just continue to rise? Let us naysaying Clevelanders hold our tongues for the time being.

More light, less darkness: Looking forward to 2022
by Kelly Quinn Sands

This season’s holidays correspond with the winter solstice, which in astronomy marks the beginning of longer days and shorter nights. My hope for Cleveland in 2022 is that together, we can create more moments of light and hope and that we all experience less darkness and despair.

Let’s have more understanding and collaboration, and less division and unrest. We have to feel a little more together this year than last year, and if we are careful and considerate of one another, we’ll be able to continue that trend.

So many people in Cleveland have accomplished great things this year—let’s keep doing more of those things. I look forward to another year of hope, health, collaboration, discovery, and respect.

Groundbreaking Ceremony Sept. 30 at East End Neighborhood House for New Community Gathering SpaceMore arts and culture
Arts and culture help us learn about—and from—one another. It often provides a forum for sharing our stories. It can also help us learn more about people who are different from ourselves. It can sometimes even stimulate the economy. Arts and culture provide a sense of community for many of us in Cleveland, and that makes us stronger together.

More collaboration
Great things happen when we collaborate. Like The Cleveland NeuroDesign Innovation Fellowship project, the Ubuntu Gathering Place in Buckeye-Woodland Hills, or the Meijer Fairfax Market project. Working together gets things done.

More diversity
Our diversity makes us stronger. Let’s celebrate our different backgrounds and ideas for positive change. Recognizing our diverse cultures with festivals like One World Day, and putting resources behind great ideas like The Citizens Make Change competition are just a couple of great examples.

More food
Food is love and Cleveland has lots of it! Growing it, cooking it, sharing it, any good gathering includes food. And personally I love all the new options in our foodie town for plant-based diets, like Brown Sugar Bunch, and Go Buddha

Holden’s Tree Corps CMHA tree planting on Cleveland’s east side at the Friendly Inn Settlement on Kinsman Rd.More gardening
I learned as a child in my school garden at Benjamin Franklin Elementary school that growing your own food is a wonderful way to learn about planning and preparation, the weather, nurturing, nutrition, and perseverance. I hope to see more projects like the Holden Forest and Gardens Tree planting project and community gardens like Rid-All continuing to grow and prosper—and more people growing their backyard gardens too!

More music
Music is one of the universal aspects of being human and brings us all together. We are so fortunate in Cleveland to have all kinds of amazing music performances, in addition to the familiar Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Pick your favorite genre, and you’re likely to find a performance somewhere in town. And almost every good festival includes music, like the FreshFest, the BriteWinter Festival, or the Lake Affect Art and Music Festival.

More solutions
We’ve got them—lots of them. From closing the digital divide to preparing young people to be economically independent. Let’s keep thinking big and forward. Let’s stick together Cleveland. Shine your light.