Slavic Village in Cleveland Becomes the 9th EcoDistricts Certified Community

Broadway-Slavic Village is a place where grit meets green. Our most valuable asset is our people, from the small business owners that support our community along Fleet and Broadway Avenues to our neighborhood activists and change-makers that push us to make the Village a healthier, more sustainable and a more equitable place to live, play and celebrate. Joining 8 other EcoDistricts worldwide in certification this summer after organizing as a team of residents, businesses and stakeholders for more than 3 years, we are ready once again to roll up our sleeves to implement our Roadmap, building the physical, natural and social infrastructure our neighborhood deserves. Our work is just beginning and, like the process of becoming EcoDistricts-Certified, the work will not be easy. Justice must be at the center of our work in terms of race, socio-economic status, environment and economic health. And we must examine where and how these pillars intersect, where there might be discord between competing goals and objectives, and how to bring neighborhood investment in line with the recommendations we worked hard to build.

What this work looks like are conversations involving place, identity, safety, access to opportunity housing, innovation, health, wellbeing, food systems, mobility, ecosystem, street network, digital network and more. Some of our conversations focus on crime, where we talk through the root of safety, neighborhood perception and hold ourselves accountable in creating safer places. We are not satisfied leaving neighborhood safety in someone else’s hands or allowing stories told to us and about us to shape our perception of who we are, where we live and what is possible. Our conversations might also weigh the environmental impact of high-frequency transportation-oriented development while also considering accessibility, connectivity and job growth or whether trail development should enhance recreation or connection with neighborhood amenities, with cycling as a primary mode of transportation. The questions are difficult to grapple with, but the process of alignment is the point of sustainable, just and resilient neighborhoods.

In 2014, Slavic Village Development (SVD), the sponsoring organization for the Broadway-Slavic Village Roadmap, partnered with Cleveland Neighborhood Progress to adopt the Climate Resilience & Urban Opportunity Initiate (CRUOI) as a model of community engagement amidst anticipated effects of climate change throughout the Midwest. Since 2014, SVD has led and supported the following projects through CRUOI: Completion of the Morgana Bluffs Nature Preserve and Learning Center in partnership with the Greater Cleveland Boys & Girls Club, planting over 400 trees in the community, completion of the Union Avenue Green Infrastructure Basin, rehabilitation of Fleet Avenue as Cleveland’s only Complete and Green Street, and the city’s first rails-to-trails project, the 2.4 mile Morgana Run Trail.

Through CRUOI, SVD also piloted the Climate Ambassadors program and it was this work with the Climate Ambassadors that inspired the adoption of the EcoDistrict Protocol and the Community Stewards Program in 2019. Due to SVD’s partnership with Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (CNP) on the Climate Resilience & Urban Opportunity Initiative (CRUOI), SVD began exploring the use of the Protocol to guide the organization’s next neighborhood master plan. Now in its 4th year, the Community Steward program builds equity and resident empowerment into the EcoDistricts framework through leadership training and capacity building that helps to guide the organization’s decision-making and planning processes. Thirty-seven residents have served at least 1 year in the Community Steward program, and many still serve on the EcoDistrict team and on SVD’s Board of Directors.

A new dawn is breaking for Broadway-Slavic Village. Together with fellow members of the EcoDistrict Team, Community Stewards and neighborhood stakeholders, we believe that just revitalization is not only possible but is the entire goal. The Broadway-Slavic Village EcoDistrict Team continues to push for sustainability in all aspects of neighborhood life, and organizational and municipal partnerships will be paramount to the success of our EcoDistrict framework. In the coming year, we expect to work with the Greater Cleveland RTA on the Broadway Transportation-Oriented Development Study, City of Cleveland on the Thriving Communities-Complete Neighborhoods work, with MetroParks on its 2023 Raise Eastside Trails grant, and with SVD on its Neighborhood Master Plan and Strategic Plan update.

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