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A sustainability agenda for Northeast Ohio

We talk a lot about "sustainability" in Northeast Ohio. But what does it mean? What needs to change if we are to become truly sustainable in the future? Who is responsible? And how can we all get involved to help make a difference?

Vision of sustainability: Lewis Center at Oberlin College, a building that produces more energy than it uses.

Where are we going?

This section of the website aims to facilitate a conversation to define a sustainability agenda for Northeast Ohio. This will be a work in progress over the next several years, as we engage the community and clarify where the region needs to go. 

We have chosen to start with nine key areas:

For each of these areas, we will attempt to offer a concise summary of the goals (e.g., what does it really mean for us to be "sustainable" in the area of water or energy?), describe the most important changes that need to be made and track the progress.

In some areas, such as  local food, there has been a lot of work, and some goals have been  defined. In other areas—such as land protection, waste reduction or transportation alternatives—goals are not yet well defined. There may be a general sense that it would be good to have more of certain things like protected natural areas. But how much? How can we know what long-term sustainability means?  

While we discuss each of these areas individually, they are obviously interrelated. For instance, the transportation system is a major source of air pollution, and the development density of cities affects the amount of land available for growing food. So we will be alert for solutions that solve multiple problems—in the way planting a tree provides shade, cooling, air purification, sound attenuation, stormwater retention, beautification, and economic value. And we will be alert to not just the environmental dimension of the issues, but also the social and economic dimensions. 

You can help develop this thinking about what sustainability really means. In the coming months, the GreenCityBlueLake staff will be framing many questions on this site and in blogs and email alerts. We will welcome your ideas and comments.  

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