Water Worries and Other Disappointments

What worries me is that Cleveland has been so deeply and painfully branded as a rust belt city and our collective consciousness has been bound to such an image of failure for so long that we will not free ourselves from it in my lifetime.   
I had always hoped to retire into downtown Cleveland.  Surely, I thought, when a struggling artist in my 30s, that by now the city will have come full circle to again be the vibrant, lively metropolis I knew as a child.  (It was a metropolis – in fact, the Metropolis.) Maybe it’s the holidays, or the fact that Dick Feagler has written his last column, or that the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture has published a white paper titled “From Rust Belt to Artist Belt,” to again try to make a case for the creative class, that my thoughts are turning wistful.   
Maybe it’s also seeing those big and sadly empty buses speeding down the equally empty Euclid Corridor, past shuttered store fronts and abandoned brick warehouses.   
Why is it, do you suppose, that we can build Jacobs Field but have no plan for what we do with the surrounding real estate?  Why we can let our lakefront get kidnapped by a monstrous orange stadium where very little ever happens worth noting?  Why we have big silver busses (but no light rail) and no plans for bringing Euclid Avenue back to life so the busses actually have places people want to go to – and people who want and need to get to these places?  Why one stand-alone project after another gets us fired up and then leaves us wondering why nothing changes, because we do not plan, focus on the long term, keep building on what we begin? Other cities, it seems, have leaders who envision the future, make plans that move forward and last beyond a single administration, beyond a single developer’s dream of short-term gain.  Other cities make commitments and hard choices, stay the course, and attract talent and energy to the cause.  These cities end up in a different, usually better, place from where they started, rather than wallowing in self-hate and the self-fulfilling belief that nothing will or can get better.   Well, at least we don’t have to worry about a water main break under Euclid Avenue.  That infrastructure was all replaced (I think, I hope) over the past two years.  Now where’s the plan for replacing the rest of the water-delivery system for the city?  Will it be ‘shovel ready’ when the infrastructure stimulus comes down from the new administration in Washington? 


  1. I think some of the comments made by 3 actual working Cleveland artists on this post I wrote are telling:


    CPAC’s white paper was disappointing at best. Last I checked, it’s kind of difficult to create a creative-class-friendly environment without, say, actually engaging with those who are active members of it.

    As someone who owns a creative business (a fiber arts studio and shop in Lakewood where we teach and sell specialty supplies), and who, with two partners, bootstrapped it because not a bank in the world would touch us despite our day 1 profitability, it makes me more than a little angry to see how so many do-nothing nonprofits get all the funding in this town.

    We do programs for kids, for example, and we’d love to expand them — a fellow artist sent us a link to the Cuyahoga arts & culture grants towards that end, but surprise! — only available for nonprofits. There needs to be some serious thought on how we can help the talent we DO have in this town without importing people from elsewhere or making funding available only to those who have the time and funds to set up 501(c)3s.

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