By Katie Sobiech
What does the word “vibrant” mean to you?
Imagine for one moment what a vibrant community would look like…
What would happen if you had a voice, or say, in creating the “perfect” (ideal) place to live? If you could paint a portrait of the landscape of your state or region, how would that look? What would you fill it with? What kinds of things would build that city?
Vibrant Northeast Ohio, or the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium (NEOSCC), is asking young professionals, artists, dreamers and people like you across Northeast Ohio to imagine this. And not only imagine, but express and share these ideas to create change.
The goal of the NEOSCC is to tackle questions concerning Summit County and to create a “game-plan” and follow-through that allows young people to turn their ideas for vibrant community life into a reality.
Taking a Step Back
The NEOSCC started putting together their organization in early 2011 after much brainstorming, and now goes by the name “Vibrant Northeast Ohio”. They currently have 31 members representing Summit County’s major metropolitan areas.
“We’re trying to take a look across a couple different lenses of economic development, environment, housing, communities, and connections, about how we’re using land and collaborating on some of these big issues that we’re facing in Northeast Ohio,” Jeff Anderle, NEOSCC Manager of Communications & Engagement, said.
“We’re focusing on developing a plan that will help the region become more vibrant and resilient to change, so that we’re planning for the future instead of trying to react to the events as they come forward,” Anderle continued.
They will take into consideration many different aspects of the region.
“We’re going to focus on economic development, transportation, creating more quality types of places throughout the region, as well as housing and communities; then really take a look at some of our environmental assets and how we can protect and preserve some of them, as well as taking a look at air and water quality issues,” he explained.
Encouraging Young People’s Involvement
Their first event, “This is What Vibrant Looks Like”, took place in Akron, at Paolo’s, on April 17th. They will have plenty of events to follow, in different areas as well.
“It’s our outreach to young leaders, planners and dreamers in the community because we feel it’s very important to get the younger generation involved in planning this initiative and really set their sights on what the future version can be,” Anderle said.
“We talked about our initiative, but also engaged in dialogue about what they think makes up a vibrant region,” he continued.
These events taking place in Akron, Canton, Cleveland, Elyria and Youngstown, in April and May, will continue throughout the next year and a half. They plan to announce a regular and much more in-depth public engagement schedule in May.
What to Expect
“This is really an opportunity in these early events that we’re going to launch this summer, for people to come out and express their opinions and have more of a conversation going forward,” Anderle said of the upcoming gatherings.
“It’s going to be highly interactive. A lot of times on these big planning projects people give their input and never hear anything back. We are committed to making sure that this dialogue keeps going forward,” he explained.
They plan to continue to stay engaged in the process.
“One of the legacies we want to leave is platforms for these conversations to move forward,” Anderle said.
They are also working with the Civic Commons on this venture.
“The Civic Commons will be there to facilitate a dialogue with attendees,” Anderle said, “They do a lot of engagement activities and it seemed like a good fit.”
They plan to create a YouTube channel for people to share their videos of some of the conversations as well, and continue to delve deeper into community discussions including a wide range of topics.
“What they’re currently working on is taking a look at the existing conditions on the ground here in Northeast Ohio. What are some of the current systems related to transportation? Housing? That report will be published in May and this summer we’re going to start seeing a pretty intensive public engagement campaign,” Anderle shared.
Stay tuned for next week’s story on how their very first event in Akron went!