Still known for smokestacks and football, Cleveland is turning its ship around.Photo: Craig Hatfield“Most people know Cleveland by the Browns or The Flats,” says Marc Lefkowitz. From the roof of his office building, which is dotted with native wildflowers and grasses, he gestures to the downtown skyline — marked by the iconic Mittal Steel smokestacks that gave The Flats neighborhood its name — and toward the beloved football team’s stadium along the shimmering shores of Lake Erie.
That two-pronged version of the city’s reputation may be wishful thinking on the part of Lefkowitz, web editor for a local green nonprofit called Green City Blue Lake. Because most people — if they give Cleveland much thought at all — probably see it as a Rust Belt city, a victim of white flight and the decaying industrial economy, and of environmental gaffes in the 1970s when Lake Erie was declared dead and the nearby Cuyahoga River was so choked with pollution that it caught fire.
The good news is, those ecological and economic atrocities planted the seeds of an early social justice, anti-poverty, and environmental movement in the city tha... Read more