A quick note: The below post was originally written as part of today’s Ohio Blogging Association All State Blog Swap. Unfortunately, due to scheduling conflicts my pair was unable to swap. However, I wanted to still share with you what I wrote, so I’ve posted it below.
Because today is the All State Blog Swap, bloggers from around the great state of Ohio are guest posting on one another’s blogs as a way to get to know each other in our blogging community. For a full listing of blog swap participants, please visit Poise in Parma today.
I tend to avoid the topic of politics in conversation, especially on my blog. The biggest reason for me is that the fever pitch of debate (from all sides) has gotten almost too ridiculous to bear — and at this point in my life, I’m trying to cut out causes for frustration, not add to them.
However, that doesn’t mean I don’t keep up on civic issues. Instead, I try to search out platforms that offer up respectful, thoughtful dialogue – and fortunately Northeast Ohio has the Civic Commons to help with that.
I’ve written before on Clue Into Cleveland about the Civic Commons and their dedication to getting residents invested in our region’s success. However, with the political landscape heating up, I figured it’d be a great time to revisit them. Over the last week, especially, they’ve kicked off a lot of great conversations around very timely issues.
Like a virtual community center, the Civic Commons provides a place for Northeast Ohio to connect with one another and take action on local issues. Since launching over a year ago, citizens and officials have gotten to know each other, brainstorm solutions and coordinate plans.
Using social media for civic good, the site’s an open platform where anyone can “Join the Conversation” about the topics important to them. The Civic Commons has even gotten national attention from the likes of Arianna Huffington, who invited them to blog on Huffington Post after sharing how she’s a big fan of their work.
Whether you’re passionate about the funding of Ohio schools, the future of fracking, or how we can improve downtown Cleveland, there is a wide spectrum of conversations to choose from. And recently, they’ve also started adding topics on other rust belt cities like Detroit.
For instance, through a partnership with the Akron Beacon Journal, the Civic Commons’ latest dialogue is asking Northeast Ohio citizens how the changes in the economy have affected our region. The America Today initiative hopes to steer the conversation about our economy toward a more productive and civil tone by sharing on Ohio.com the different ways we’re each getting through the economic downturn.
Last week, they took the conversation offline by hosting This is What Vibrant Looks Like with the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium. To launch the multi-year VibrantNEO campaign, NEOSCC and Civic Commons invited the community to share input on an integrated approach for regional planning.
CoolCleveland has a flickr feed from the event that shows what Clevelanders were interested in discussing — from workforce to infrastructure, land use, transportation, business development, arts districts, and natural resources.
The Civic Commons conversation that I’m currently most interested in, though, is this week’s forum focused on the Cleveland Public Schools’ Education Transformation Plan.
Earlier this year, Mayor Jackson released a dramatic new plan for changing how the city’s public schools operate. The proposal is so drastic in how it alters the status quo and how money and responsibilites are handled that it requires legislative approval.
However, in addition to the legislators, the city is also interested in the public’s feedback. Subsequently, the Civic Commons’ forum is giving everyone the unique opportunity to meet with plan designers, administrators and teachers; pose questions; and offer insights and concerns.
Today through Wednesday, there are online chats at CivicCommons.com and this Thursday an in-person forum will take place at the Fairfax Recreation Center. It’s easy to say things need to change in our schools, so seeing how the city is invested in partnering with the public to make these changes work is heartening.
Resources about the plan, as well as times and places for the online and in-person chats can be found here.
At a time when the political landscape is filled with so much unproductive rhetoric, it’s easy to lose sight of the actual issues facing our community. But with principles of respect, transparency and credibility encouraged and enforced on the Civic Commons, Clevelanders have the ability to engage in growth we can all be proud of.