Letter to the Region

On behalf of the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium, welcome to our Conditions and Trends Platform!

Since you are reading this, chances are that you call Northeast Ohio home and care what happens to this region.  You aren’t alone.

All of us who live in Northeast Ohio have things we love about this region. Whether they are its people, its places, or its history, the things we love about Northeast Ohio are the things that keep us here – the things we think make Northeast Ohio a special place to live.  We all want to see the things we love about Northeast Ohio protected, just as we would like to see the challenges facing our region addressed and put behind us.

The Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium (NEOSCC) is focused on helping us do this.  Our goal is to create a vibrant NE Ohio that

  • Improves our quality of life;
  • Connects our communities;
  • Welcomes diversity;
  • Restores and protects our natural resources; and,
  • Creates a competitive economic framework that fuels the vitality of our region.

NEOSCC’s member organizations come from across the 12-county region and represent geographically, economically, socially, racially and politically diverse communities. Together, we are studying how Northeast Ohio uses land and developing ideas about how we can use it more wisely so that it is to the greatest benefit to our economy and quality of life, now and in the future.  We are trying to think through how we can become better stewards of our natural resources without sacrificing the things that have made Northeast Ohio a great place to live and raise a family.

This Conditions and Trends Platform is our first major step in that direction.  It’s a compilation of research about our region that will allow us to take a collective look at what we are doing as a region and where we seem to be heading.

So what are our Conditions and Trends today?

Communities throughout Northeast Ohio – and the United States – have long utilized a suburban land-use model, building low-density residential and commercial developments in various locations. This pattern has been embraced by the majority of marketers, developers, consumers, and political leaders as highly-desirable.  And in many ways it has been.

We have built a transportation system to accommodate this approach to using land.  Our network of interstate highways, multi-lane arterials, and large parking facilities has in many ways done an admirable job of making this type of development possible.

All of this, however, has come at a cost.  We are now a society that is automobile dependent and, by extension, oil dependent.  Our “built environment” has been designed to accommodate cars rather than people.  Many people find themselves in situations where they have to drive long distances, both to work and enjoy what Northeast Ohio has to offer, whether they want to or not.

It is becoming more and more apparent that we need to reassess how we have designed our urban areas for the past 60 years.  And we need to do it soon.

So, what should we do?  We can begin to give serious thought to a new way of doing things that makes our region more sustainable, protects what we value about our region, and offers all of us more choices about where and how to live and work.

With the release of this Conditions and Trends platform, NEOSCC is launching a region-wide conversation about our region’s future.  We are not, however, tied to one particular course of action. We want to hear from you about your vision for our region and then work together to transform the feedback we receive into a workable plan for our communities.

You’ll notice I keep referring to this as a “platform” and you may be wondering what I mean.  The Conditions and Trends Platform is not a “political platform” that lists NEOSCC’s positions on issues; there are NO recommendations in the findings we present about the region.  Instead, this Conditions and Trends Platform is:

  • A foundation upon which we will build an even broader base of knowledge about our region.
  • A place where we can stand while we have a conversation.
  • A “launching platform” for an effort that will take Northeast Ohio to where it wants to go.

While NEOSCC has organized this platform and will continue to manage it, going forward it will belong to all of us.  If you’ve read this far, it’s obvious that you care about Northeast Ohio.  We need YOU, your friends and family, and anyone you know who cares about Northeast Ohio to contribute what you know about our region – how you experience it, what makes it special, and what it needs.  We need you to put this platform to use.

We are all experts about our own experiences.  We are asking that you add your expertise to the common understanding of region we are building through this platform.  By doing so, you will be helping to ensure that Northeast Ohio’s future represents the best that we all have to offer.