Cleveland Foundation's Common Ground brought Cuyahoga County residents together to "meet, share a meal, connect and discuss what we can do together to create a more equitable and resilient Greater Cleveland" at over 25 sites yesterday. The day mirrored the Chicago Community Trust's "On the Table" a citywide attempt at getting people of all types to address the challenges their communities face.
We started our day at a Nautica Entertainment Complex patio where Sustainable Cleveland hosted conversations focusing on the reduction of single use disposable plastic, specifically plastic bags, plastic water bottles and plastic straws. We sat in on the plastic straw roundtable where one participant came prepared with her own personal metal straw and "no straw please" cards (to help restaurant servers better understand her request). More information can be found at The Last Plastic Straw website. We're hopeful you'll be seeing a local single-use plastic reduction initiative being rolled out in the near future. As we wrapped the session, Greater Cleveland Aquarium invited us to check out the Recycled Runway Fashion show display of exquisite dresses created from discarded materials.
We then moved to a nearby Common Ground conversation hosted by Ohio City Incorporated and The Global Table at The Ohio City Farm where people discussed how a welcoming neighborhood can be created for all residents, businesses and visitors. We wrapped our day with a trip to Cleveland Public Square where long rows of tables provided Common Ground participants an opportunity to enjoy a box lunch and engage with people they didn't know on the topic of the day - what can we do to create an equitable and more sustainable community. It was great, engaging fun on a brilliant day.
As we drove across the Cuyahoga River on the way home, we couldn't help but think The Cleveland Dragons, a Cleveland Dragonboat Association team preparing for the Cleveland Dragonboat Festival on August 12 at Wendy Park, served as a potent metaphor for Common Ground: We're all in the same boat, and in order for Greater Cleveland to make sustainable, forward progress, we all need to paddle together.