When I retired from Neighborhood Progress Inc. after 21 years as CEO, my wife and I moved to our family home on the Rogue River in Oregon. Small town/rural life was a nice change, but we decided after a few years that we are City people and moved, back to Cleveland. I was offered a position as a senior fellow at the Levin College to write a paper about my community development experience in Cleveland. I moved on from that position, but I continued working on the paper because I felt I had something to offer. Various drafts were shared with colleagues who offered helpful suggestions about details and big picture perspectives. This book is the result of that dialogue.
This is a participant observer view with all the strengths and weaknesses, not an academic study. There are various articles and studies which reference the period described and I have included a bibliography of the literature in the appendix, but I have chosen to focus on my experience and observations as a better way to tell the story. That said this is also an historic account filtered through memory, changing leadership, and evolving civic priorities. With this caveat, the goal is to provide a balanced account of how community development in Cleveland was done in the period described and the challenges and achievements that were shaped by the larger political and economic landscape of a legacy city.
Neighborhood Progress Inc., a nationally recognized Foundation intermediary, is the lens through which the various elements of Cleveland’s public private partnership, neighborhood renewal and the community development infrastructure is viewed. Hopefully, I have kept the story interesting and relevant, with the appropriate level of detail for both those in the field doing the heavy lifting and urbanists who care about the city’s future.