Uncommon Ground: Collinwood residents, business owners talk environmental justice

Common Ground discussion at Photocentric.

Common Ground discussion at Photocentric.

More than 25 people came out to the Photocentric art gallery on Waterloo Road on Wednesday to participate in “[re]Forest City: Environmental Justice in the CLE,” a community event that was part of the Cleveland Foundation’s Common Ground series.

During the conversation, neighbors, business owners, reporters and city residents shared their visions for fostering environmental justice in the communities where they live. The setting on Waterloo Road, a vibrant, scrappy arts district where artists recently took over some of the overgrown planters to create artistically themed plantings that would reinvigorate the streetscape, was perfect.

The Land and NewsLab at Kent State University intern Zaria Johnson told the group why she was excited to be doing community reporting with the project. “When I heard about the environmental justice reporting project, I was super down for it,” she said. “It’s so cool because instead of reporting on what is important to me, we were listening to residents and figuring out what their biggest concerns are.”

Topics ranged from the need for more high-quality, accessible green spaces on Cleveland’s east side to how point source pollution from area factories and industrial sites was impacting residents. The group also discussed solutions to environmental problems including creating more dense, walkable communities, removing lead paint and environmental hazards from old homes, and greening lots.

“That’s the spirit of Collinwood,” Greater Collinwood CDC executive director Jamar Doyle told the group of the Green Palette project on Waterloo. “Even if we’re in an underresourced situation, the residents and artists come together to address the situation.”

To learn more about Ask The Land and sign up for our two-way texting program in which residents shape the news, visit here: https://www.thelandcle.org/ask-the-land

This event was held as part of an environmental justice reporting initiative involving partners Ideastream Public Media, The Land, The NewsLab at Kent State University, WKSU, La Mega, and the Northeast Ohio Solutions Journalism Collaborative (NEOSOJO).

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