Our team projects from the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Summit

Four members of the BrownFlynn team attended the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Summit on August 12-14.  We spread out into different teams during the Summit and have been working on carrying out the projects we started there in order to “build an economic engine to empower a Green City on a Blue Lake.”

Here are the teams we were in and the projects we have been working on:


I am on the Post-Summit Implementation Team.  We are developing an organizational framework for a post-summit entity (we haven’t named it yet) that will be responsible for ensuring ideas and projects coming out of the summit are implemented successfully by leveraging the resources/expertise/experience of organizations in our community.  The entity will also be responsible for fundraising as well as creating processes and reporting methods for ensuring both accountability and success. Without all of this in place, I believe (as does everyone on our team), we put the overall outcomes and intended impact of the summit in jeopardy. 


I participated on the “Metrics of Success” team at the Sustainable Cleveland Summit.  Our group was charged with identifying how stakeholders could judge the progress we are making towards achieving the sustainability goals set for 2019.


While the other teams at the summit were determining the goals they wanted to achieve, the “Metrics of Success” team began working on a metrics prototype.  The prototype was based upon the three pillars of sustainability—people, planet and prosperity.  Further, we wanted the metric system to be easily understandable for all stakeholders—from young children to adults.  As such, we recommended a simple “red, yellow, green” designation for explaining the progress on set goals.  Red would mean little or no progress; yellow would mean some progress; and, green, would reflect great progress and/or that the goal was met.

Our team agreed upon certain “assumptions” to ensure our metrics would be applied successfully.  These included a commitment to transparency; an open and collaborative process for getting broad buy-in to the goals; identifying and using comparable data and benchmarks; seeking independent assessment (perhaps by another city) to evaluate our progress;  building in incentives and rewards (i.e. honoring local heroes—individuals, groups, companies, universities contributing towards goals); and, verifying quality data inputs essential to the data-gathering processes.

In addition, we brainstormed various forms of stakeholder engagement to get the word out about our progress on goals.  These included various forms of media, including: websites, billboards, bus signs, local business magazines, chat rooms, etc.  Overall, our team quickly surveyed what we concluded to be the most critical metrics to track coming out of the summit.  These included:

  • Waste reduction
  • Increased employment particularly in green jobs/startups and as a result of land re-use
  • Water quality
  • Population trends in urban core
  • Improved education
  • Increased use of public transportation and reduction in cars


I was in a sub-group of the “Waste to Profit” group that was looking at creating a reusable deconstruction material “one stop shop” in partnership with APOC and other local artists.  Their intention is to start a business where artists can rent space to create art out of deconstructed materials, where deconstructed materials can be stored, and where the art could be sold.  The vision includes workshop and training space.  The team is currently proceeding according to plan and has named the project, “Wastepedia”.


For our project in the Regional Collaboration and Strategic Partnerships group, we’re building a social networking site (a Ning) to foster collaboration and partnerships in the Great Lakes region in order to make our post-industrial cities more sustainable environmentally, socially, and economically.

ning shot

Imagine: you log in to a gorgeous looking (wink wink) website, you create a profile for yourself that includes what you do and what your interests are in terms of sustainability – and suddenly you’re a part of a regional network of people who are interested in making our cities more sustainable. 

You can join groups depending on your interests and find experts from other Great Lakes cities to help you in your undertakings.  You can even start a project with the people you connect with in the network, attend an event about regional collaboration, or go to a workshop about nearly any topic related to urban sustainability.

This is what we’ve imagined and what we’re working on creating.  I’ll let you know when we launch it, which should be sometime in the coming weeks.


*If you are interested in finding more information about the Summit, click here.

**If you attended the Summit and would like to reconnect with the other attendees and continue the work you started in your team, then click here.

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