Author Archive

Thoughts from Bill Doty

November 25, 2008

I’m taken by thoughts of innovation — we don’t even realize the innovation taking place at the micro scale with every action we’re taking — problem is, we’re waiting for big innovation and government rules. That doesn’t get to real lasting change, which happens from incremental steps every day. To say we need big innovations sets our expectations too high, it can let everyone down. Unfortunately, we try to compare sustainability to big and bold innovation. We need to get up every day and do what we do to improve our footprint. Those are the things that will make a real difference every day. It came home to me that none of us would be here without innovative work of David Beach, Holly Harlan, Sadhu Johnston, and others who took a risk to create something new and got support of foundations to create a place that’s an inspiration.

I realized I was not alone – this has become a family. It’s the same people over and over and over. It’s not some flash in the pan. These people get it. We’re all here and consistently talking about it, and influencing who we come into contact with.


Reports from the discussion groups

November 25, 2008

We have a roomful of around 200 people actively engaged  in making Northeast Ohio a sustainable place or a Green City on a Blue Lake. Sharing their visions below of how Cleveland might look in 2019:

The Cleveland Clinic farmer’s market drew an average of 2,000 a week, and created a new community, fulfilling a need.

Phillips reused the huts smokers once used as bike stations for their employees.

Common thread is a healthier Cleveland; We can market ourselves as a lower carbon community. We can tap into our ranking as the #2 local food market in the country.

Assets of Cleveland manufacturing – we have the dots, now it’s time to connect them.

We’re one truck day trip from the whole country’s population – we’re centrally located.

Our vision is a new Innerbelt Bridge (over untroubled waters). Connecting past and future again as the center of the transportation and energy sector. New energy will fuel our return to transportation center.

Sustainable Product Education Center: combines a sustainable product mart and education center to train and teach people how the products are developed and an incubator for new products and provides the touchpoint for the stories of innovation.

Filling the void left by policy and business is the faith community and groups like the Interfaith Power and Light.

Dovetail Solar and Wind is a renewable energy success story. The idea is to go from niche to mainstream.

Collaboration across sectors is needed and finding common ground.

Ron @ Green Source Products: We looked at a GreenCity on a Blue Lake as a creative entreprise. Use the natural resources we have; Manufacturing workers and tech can be a springboard; Regionalism is needed; look to leading practices here like Fairmount Minerals; our international connections i.e. the Cleveland Clinic; pride we take in our ethnic diversity is a strength we have here; Local farmer’s markets are growing.

“Business as Unusual” – a theme that leverage the heritage of what Cleveland known for and reinvent them for new economy. If we get this right and integrate they’ll be embedded in everything we do (we won’t need to call it out as something special). Wind assets and cold weather are opportunities for green building but will only happen if true spirit of collaboration between business, education and across state lines to similar regions like Pittsburgh.

Repurpose things — water, energy, deconstructing our traditional ideas for the city; a positive vision for the future; Clevelanders are not good storytellers. We need to reinstill the pride and ability to share those stories.

Community and foundation support has fueled the nonprofits. The crux is the passion and curiosity that you can find here. Our manageable size. The legislation and federal and state support — how can we fill out the empty bills that are sitting there. Feasibility study for exploring wind offshore.

Meredith a Weatherhead student – the hard working people in Cleveland do the clean work. Rezoning to do urban farms and reverting to how we used to look. A clean swimmable lake. Mistake on the lake no more. Recognition as top sustainable city. A model city. Fresh water resources.

Passion and adversity facing crisis. Harmony – what can be done if we see the advantages of harmony is a balance or a process not a final resting place. As we manage what is good for individual and balance with what is good for the collective we’ll be a model.

Paul Alsenas – one of first rules of innovation is to break the rules. We started out as conversation we talked about our passions and food kept coming up. We have Chris Hopkins who grew up on a farm. We talked about how do we make our region a food system that’s local and sustainable?

1. Water

2. We have world class farmland

3. Dense urban population – ethnic and rural/urban

How convert it to a local food system?

Our robust network of farmer’s markets – what can we learn from them? We have the first national park that’s looking at growing food.

We have Chris Norman taking over Crown Point Ecology Center moving us in new directions.

Transforming the education system to get kids to understand where does our food come from, how to prepare food; how do capture what we grow for fuel?; how do we lower the cost of public service through controlling land use.

City Mission redefining collaboration – started when city of Cleveland approached six churches and sought their help in meet the needs of hungry families. The DNA of being collaborative was there, but forgotten. Wanted to reconnect with collaborative spirit. Saw opportunity to work with Cleveland Food Bank because they expanded view of what’s possible.

Vision for the future

November 25, 2008

Local food economy is something we’re impressed by and can it move in concert with land management and have city Cleveland totally powered by renewable resources in 2019. Large scale wind farm. Cleveland as a model for everyone else . People will come here to learn about sustainable land and energy policy; Benson Lee Cleveland entrepreneur his company invented a fuel cell that can transform our energy use and also our thinking — his vision is to sell it to developing countries that don’t have the electric grid.

How do we tap into that kind of innovation — looking for tapping into the hardworking nature of cleveland. People need to know what to do, once they figure out what . . We’re waiting for the innovation to be communicated. They’re out there, but people don’t know what they are.

I think we need electro shock therapy . We need to do it for ourselves. People are a squandered resource. The lost human capital – Do we have an attitude that we we can buy our way to purity. Our worship of thhe new. Terry talks about the story of tearing down a school to build a new ‘green’ building. Why does this happen and why do we allow it to happen?

But David Cooperrider is about positive thinking. How do we tap into that?

Small group: What is innovation?

November 25, 2008

The group discussion at the table with Brad Chase (GCBL), Linda Robson (Case Sustainability Director), Mike Dungan (E4S board member) and Mike Hammer (a local farmer).

Name an innovation from Northeast Ohio in the last ten years.

Novelis a company doing a mini Material Resource Facility a zero waste facility. They’ve bought into the idea. ‘A mini MRF’ is an idea that has arisen.

E-Z Brite manufacturer in Westlake of cleaning products and process generates no waste. Twelve employees. Environmentally benign products.

Lube Stop – locally owned. Not always ‘green’. Tom, the new president initiated the Eco-Guard process. Trying to reduce footprint. Green oil replacement.

How innovative is that?

Very, because at the daily level. Innovating their industry.

It’s nesting sustainability within affordability and everyday what people have to do.

Prius — what’s the difference between a niche and something that grew out of market conditions? When you see things coming.

What will Cleveland need ten years from now?

Mike H: Our biggest deficiency — we’re like Chicago which embraced idea that we’re not going to keep people in the city center so they have spokes of people who move out of the area. Cleveland is about blocking progress.

Brad: What’s different in this region is the central city is not leading the change. More of innovation is happening on the fringe where more wealth is located. Cleveland is slow to adopt.

Our region isn’t known for risk. What you describe is a barrier that needs to be brought down.

Linda: Can that be learned? If change is the answer, then you need a champion.

Mike H: Disagree that you need one champion. You just need to do that.

Mike D: What is a champion? Someone who tries something out and sees the results.

Linda: Or are most champions interested in doing something new?

Local farmer Mike Hammer uses example of black walnut trees which he saw growing on his property and didn’t know what to do so he started asking what to do with them. He kept looking for solutions and finally find someone who will haul 1,000 pounds an hour. Led to a new industry. Could scale up to $200K business. I’m not doing it because I’m a champion but because I want to make money.

Linda: Curiosity — is that something that we can teach or is it out of necessity?

Does Cleveland lack an innovation gene?

Mike D: Entrepreneurial thinker sees a market failure and comes up with a solution. Risk is just part of the game.

Entrepreneur has a vision opportunity recognition and is willing to do whatever it takes to get there.

Do we need to import innovation or build it in the next generation from the ground up?

People are very proud of being from here and not moving away.

What are the ways to leverage this ‘don’t hassle me I’m local’ attitude?

Linda: Is it a rediscovery? A way to leverage the Midwestern values. The story becomes about a sense of place.

Comfortable, are we too comfortable and worried about the economy? Do we have enough opportunity?

Risk averse hypnotic to live here – the same soundtrack keeps playing.

What’s the drive here in Northeast Ohio?

Should leadership get out of the way?

What’s missing – the idea of storytelling is lacking. How do we take those skills?

Mike Dungan found his grandfather had a patent for an electric starter unfortunately Packard beat him out (both were from Warren, OH). That lit a flame in me. Father had an art degree but also a technician. Wants to pass on the story to his kid and figure out why the stories aren’t being passed on. How do we share the stories, and the simple act of storytelling to help this generation of entrepreneurs. This is a very gentrified generation. Entrepreneurs are tinkerers. But is storytelling another side of that coin? How do we unlock that storytelling?

Who do you target the stories to?

Mike D – I think you need to work like a honeybee versus an influence peddler. The bee operates on the simple parameters that you spread your ideas around and see who’s interested.

Cooperrider opens the day

November 25, 2008

From David Cooperrider’s opening address

I see business as a force for peace, business as a force for eco-innovation.

A leader is anyone who chooses to make a difference.

As a city to be able to put our arms around this idea of becoming a green city on a blue lake – this is our time.

Recounting a meeting with business guru Peter Drucker about social responsibility for business.

Algae ponds in Cleveland? I didn’t know that we had those!

6,000 sustainability entrepreneurs in Cleveland, Cooperrider says.

Back to Drucker and a question about sustainability “Will this pay off for companies?” Drucker’s answer: Every single social and global issue today is a business opportunity.

Cooperrider: We’ve built that philosophy into Business as an Agent of World Benefit (BAWB).

“The task of leadership to create an alignment of strengths in ways that make the system’s weaknesses irrelevant.” –Drucker

That’s a theme we’ll weave in today.

Ban Qui Moon told Cooperrider we’re able to eradicate poverty if we choose.

Now he’s talking about Nano Solar, a start up from the Google creators. Spray on solar. Can put it on Reynolds (sp?) Wrap.

He calls us “The Privileged Generation”. There’s much truth to that, but Cooperrider means we can tap innovation and solve the world’s problems.

Appreciative Inquiry: No problem can be solved by the same consciousness that created it.

Imagine Cleveland…Is it possible that sustainability is the regional economic opportunity of the 21st century. I look at companies that missed it — “General Motors, who was managing them” – but we’re creating the next chapter. Stories have wings and they fly from mountain top to mountain top (Bolivian proverb).

No we’re moving into the set up to the AI session…