East Cleveland’s Community Narrative
(Expressed by East Cleveland Library Board of Trustees & Administration)
The people of East Cleveland want a community where they experience safety in both the physical and philosophical sense. They want a vibrant community that celebrates and recognizes its rich assets in terms of history, culture and people. The people of East Cleveland aspire to be an engaged community that takes an active role and holds itself accountable for its own sustainability and self-sufficiency. Finally, citizens want East Cleveland to be a place where many different people choose to live, because they are excited and have positive expectations for the future of the community.
There are great concerns among community members. Foremost among them is the viability of the city. Faced with high levels of under/unemployment, a lack of economic development, ineffective and non-existent leadership, the people wonder if the potential for interagency cooperation exist in the city. More importantly, they are questions whether people have the collective will and self-determination to come together at this critical juncture in the city’s history.
As people talk more about their concerns they talk specifically about how people have no space to engage around important issues, and limited or no access to information to help them make informed decisions. These deficits lead to isolation, low expectations, the inability to see the possibilities, diminished investment in the community and individual apathy, Furthermore, community members are dismayed by petty politics, lack of courage and communication among city leadership. They are most concerned about how this will impact young people, especially if the schools and community are not aligned.
People believe they need to focus on getting citizens engaged by having more conversations about the state of the community. After the conversation there must be opportunities to collaborate and create action, but action must be guided by evaluation, and planning along with high levels of accountability. Otherwise, how will they know what success looks like? There also needs to be celebration of who East Cleveland is, what has been accomplished and stories that tell East Cleveland’s story about itself-- a different, more positive story. If more individuals, members of city council, clergy, and allies outside of East Cleveland played a part in those actions, more folks might trust the effort and step forward.
This narrative is based upon a Harwood Community Conversation conducted with the East Cleveland Board of Trustees and Administration on February 27, 2015