Thursday, August 28, 2008

Safety and Security in Cleveland Schools

This week I began the nineteenth year of my commute along the Shoreway to Cleveland's near west side.
This is a neighborhood which was considered "tough" twenty years ago by the exurbanites, whose families fled the city during the turbulent sixties and de-seg seventies. A decade later the area was dubbed "interesting" by the hipsters, who were soon followed by developers, greedily buying up the cheap property to build chic new condos for the ever-so-trendy, new urbanism-embracing, young professionals. New theaters, art galleries, and restaurants have been springing up from the Cuyahoga River to West Boulevard. Today the Ohio City/Detroit-Shoreway neighborhoods are no longer on the Realtor's list of bargain basement give-aways.
Do I feel safer? Of course not. This is a city. Safety should never be taken for granted in the city.

Last week a reader posed an interesting question on my post regarding the Cleveland Municipal School District's status falling from Continuous Improvement to Academic Watch.

Journalist Wendy Hoke asked:

"Just wondering how X-ray machines and metal detectors at every entry are going to "make our environment welcoming" to parents and students. Sanders talked about the disconnect between community and schools during his state of the schools address last Friday. Security is important, but if you create a prison-like atmosphere, aren't you reinforcing negative behaviors by establishing a culture in which kids are perceived as potential threats? I'd be very interested to know what you and other CMSD teachers think about this."

I had to think about that one for a quick minute. What is the culture of Max Hayes, and will (or did) metal detectors change this culture?
Max Hayes is such a unique environment, it is hard to compare it to any other high school I've ever been in. The building looks like a factory from the street and smells like one in the hallways. Kids dressed in work boots, goggles, tool belts, and coveralls jostle amongst their colleagues in polo shirts and khakis. Banter is chummy for the most part, and the relatively small student body of 550 students makes it easy for students and staff to get to know one another. The culture at Max Hayes feels an awful lot like family.
The metal detectors and Tenable guards came into the building last winter. During the first week students and faculty complained about the hassle, but eventually the screening became part of the routine for the kids, and the staff were no longer required to go through security. As the Tenable guards got to know the kids, the security checks became less intimidating. The chronically late students couldn't get into school without being chided for tardiness, and friendly chatter soon replaced stern directives.
I have spent some time as a visitor in a prison, and so I will adamently say from personal experience, "No!" The metal detectors in the schools do not create a prison-like atmosphere. The culture of prison is suspicious, unsympathetic, and often harsh...and that's just in the visitation room. The security screening in school is quite different, more akin to an airport.
The more important question is this: Are students and teachers safer with metal detectors in the buildings? I'm not sure. They most certainly will deter a random act of violence by a stranger, (these have happened in the schools) but would they prevent a student from taking out revenge on teachers and classmates?
I asked my classes.
The student's response was a unanimous "No. If somebody wanted to get a gun into the building there are plenty of ways to get around security."
The next phase of Dr Sanders security plan is the one I believe will have a real impact on building safety, especially as it applies to potentially dangerous situations that might develop within the school. The proposed addition of more school psychologists, social workers, and new professional development sessions for school personnel regarding troubled students, would have the greastest effect toward the prevention of tragedies like last October's shooting at Success Tech. Developing a culture of awareness, caring, and kindness is an essential step in the process of identifying problems and getting students the help they need.
At Max Hayes we are doing that pretty well already.
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Monday, August 25, 2008

Peter Drucker on Teachers

"Teaching is the only major occupation of man for which we have not developed tools that make an average person capable of competence and performance. In teaching we rely on the "naturals", the ones who somehow know how to teach."

Peter Drucker

This photograph is of a sandstone relief decorating the west side of the Cleveland Board of Education building on East Sixth Street.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Summer Project - 1965 VW Beetle: Part 7

Beetle Update: At last the sheet metal work on the Volkswagen is finished! All the nasty rust has been cut away and replaced with either brand new parts or new metal patches. The welding is complete and the seams have been ground smooth.

Little blue Barney is now one very solid buggy.

The Optimist decided to replace the front apron entirely, since the original didn't straighten out as nicely as he'd hoped for. Next step, he says, is to smooth out the surface with fiberglass.

It's much better to watch parts of the car coming together, rather than see pieces coming off. It's kind of like the light at the end of the tunnel.

It looks like the proposed end of August completion date may have to be pushed into September. You see, Tom has needed to spend a whole lot of time with the day job lately. But, as much as I want to get this car on the road, you won't hear me complain one bit. Business has been good.
Yes, you read it correctly...Good.
In this economy?... In NE Ohio?...A manufacturing company?...Who would have guessed?
Besides The Optimist.

To be continued...

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Academic Watch

The word is official, Cleveland schools are back on the Academic Watch list.
Am I surprised? Not at all.
From my view point in the classroom, not much has changed beyond the way students are dressed to come to school, and the addition of extra security guards (the private Tenable Security Company) to keep an eye on the exits and entrances in the morning. Oh, and let's not forget the metal detectors.
When Dr Sanders came to Cleveland he spent a good part of the first year listening to the community, and he acted on their concerns. Safety and security are improving, and the students come to school appropriately dressed. New programs and specialty schools are springing up all over the district. All good things for sure.
Maybe now it's time to ask the folks who are directly involved with the students what would help us do our jobs. Ask us where we see the need for improvement.
In my building, the one big problem last year was staffing in key academic areas. Unfortunately, there were several teachers with long term health issues, which resulted in a revolving door of substitute teachers. Without regular teachers in the classrooms, learning just isn't going to happen.
The other major problem related to staffing is the annual fiasco of scheduling at the start of the school year. Teachers are shifted from one building to another from the month of August through the middle of October, to adjust for changes in student populations. In turn, the master schedule in each school must be adjusted, which means student schedules get changed. This results in first quarter chaos which has become business as usual in Cleveland. Twenty years ago I was advised by a veteran colleague to delay putting names in my grade book until the end of the fall quarter, since the class lists would change almost daily until after the final ADM week counts were submitted. Two decades later, I still pass that same good advice along to new Cleveland teachers.
Well, that's my two cents this morning.
If anyone wants to hear the other 98 cents worth of my observations, all you have to do is ask.
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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

First Day Advice for New Teachers

Tomorrow (Wednesday) is my last day of vacation, and I intend to savor it like a reforming smoker enjoys the final drags of his last cigarette. New teacher orientation for CMSD teachers is being held this week at the Cleveland IX Center. Although asked to be a presenter for the event, I selfishly declined. More enticing than the extra pay is the luxury of extending my summer a few days more.

Slap me if I'm lying, but I'm kind of looking forward to the coming school year. I had a really fun group of students last year in the 10th and 11th grades who will be juniors and seniors this year, and several of them are actually talented. I think I might even have enough interested students to have a decent art club, so I'm planning some after-school studio and gallery visits. I have a couple of local artists who will be working in the shops, and will also be resurrecting the visiting artist discussion series.

During the month of August, I always notice an unusually high number of new readers who find this blog by Googling "Teachers' First Day of School". Over the years I've written about my first day as a new student teacher, my first day back in class after summer vacation, as well as my observations of kids on their first day back at school, but I have a feeling many of those Googlers are probably looking for something else. The search words seem to indicate nervous rookies who need a little advice before they stand alone in front of a room full of students for the first time.

Whether a college student intern, or an experienced veteran in a new job, the first day is usually a mix of excitement and apprehension. I have served as a mentor teacher for quite a few student interns over the course of my career, and they all have very similar concerns before they teach their first lesson.

What advice do I have for new teachers as they prepare for opening day?

You are most certainly armed with lesson plans, unit goals, curriculum maps, assessment tools, and classroom management strategies. You have reviewed your textbooks, copied your work sheets and printed your hand outs. Now what?

I am going to tell you a secret. This bit of advice is rarely included in any teachers ed course, but it is the simplest thing in the world, and it will make the all the difference not only for your first day, but for the duration of your career:


I had a professor in college who advised his eduction classes, "Don't smile for the first three months of school. Your students will see it as a sign of weakness." He obviously took his own advice. It was no surprise Dr. Grimace was no longer in a classroom with kids. He may have had a PhD in education, but he was not inspirational, or passionate, or remotely interesting. He most definitely couldn't teach. The most valuable lesson I took away from that class was what NOT to do.

Most people respond to a smile positively. Students will do just about anything for a teacher who likes them. If kids thinks a teacher doesn't care, or if the teacher acts aloof or superior, students (especially in middle and high school) will inevitably see that attitude as an invitation to make the instructor miserable, knock him down a notch or two. Power plays don't work as discipline strategies, neither does anger. Bitchiness begets more of the same. Kindness is the most effective classroom management strategy, but it isn't always easy.

There are going to be days when you feel cranky. Fake the smile. Like a used car salesman, consider it part of the job. The surprising benefit is, you will start feeling better.

Now, I'm sure this is sounding awfully Pollyanna...but, that's just the way it is. I realize there will be students in your class who are difficult to like. Some kids are annoying, some are mean, others are insolent. Try your hardest to find something good about them, and if you can't, once again...Fake it. Make the effort to spend a little time with them one on one, get to know their story, figure them out. Since these are the kids whose behavior will undoubtedly elicit the phrase, "I need to see you after class", surprise them by starting a friendly conversation instead of launching a diatribe about appropriate behavior. These kids are used to being yelled at, and they've built up an immunity to it. Rather than delivering a punishment, don't even bring up the infraction, ask what they did over the summer. You might discover the elusive "likable" something that isn't evident when the whole class is around. It is also quite possible you will be the first adult to ever act interested in them.

I've had colleagues who would sit in the teachers lounge day after day complaining about students, some would even be bragging about how many "F's" they gave out. Stay away from these people. Good teachers don't hate kids. Don't ever confuse being a "tough" teacher with being a good teacher. If a high percentage of a teacher's students fail the class, that teacher has failed to teach a whole lot of their students.
In the manufacturing industry, if a company fails to deliver a product it either improves its practice to satisfy the customer, or it goes out of business. In education when we fail to deliver, we blame the students (or their parents) and keep on being disfunctional. Is it no surprise urban schools have drop out rates hovering around 50%?

Next, find a good teacher on the staff, and make a friend. If you want to know who the best teachers are, ask the kids. That teacher will be the one who will also have the time to help you. There will be a lot of paperwork, and new procedures. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Develop a camaraderie with your peers. If the staff goes out after school, join them. You will learn more over a beer and basket of wings than you did in any college course.

Finally, try not to take things home with you. Get as much work done at school as you can, and do your best to leave your students problems back in the classroom. This can be really difficult, especially if you work in a district like Cleveland where poverty is the norm. Remember, you have your own life, and if you don't, for God's sake get busy and make one.

Politics, Economy, and Hope on Cleveland's East Side

"Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope?”

Barack Obama

A picture is worth a thousand words. This Superior Avenue storefront in the Glenville neighborhood says it all. I've added a new slide show of some of my favorite photos I took this summer while exploring Cleveland's neighborhoods. Click on the photo in the sidebar to enlarge the pictures

Monday, August 18, 2008

Almost that Time

I stopped by the school last week to drop off some of the art materials I've collected for my students over the summer. Although I was tempted for a hot second to start putting my classroom back in order... I resisted. There will be plenty of time for that later. Department Chairs are scheduled to return to our buildings on August 21st. Although we have meetings to attend there will also be time to work in our rooms and prepare for students.
I have resolved to cherish these last few days of my summer vacation, and focus on the moment. I will try to squeeze as much enjoyment out of these final unscheduled hours as I can.
This morning that meant sleeping in.
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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Cleveland Fruit Share Comes to the Rescue

"I prayed for a late frost, but Mother Nature didn't want to hear it."

Susan hated the old pear tree that shaded her deck and driveway ever since the first year she bought the house.

"Who knew those lovely white blossoms would stink like dirty underpants? How many times I would walk onto the deck that first spring and wonder where that nasty, musty, smell was coming from. It's worse than a locker room. More like sitting on a bus next to a sweaty guy who hasn't bathed for a month."

Pointing at the branches straining with the weight of an overly abundant crop, she continued, "Last year I was so lucky, we had that blizzard in April which killed off all the buds, this year the tree has more pears than ever."

The fruit looked larger than usual too, probably because of the perfect intervals of rain North East Ohio gardeners were blessed with this summer. Trouble is, Susan is neither a gardener nor a cook.

"C'mon, now. How many pears can a girl eat in a few weeks?"

Worse by far than the Spring Stank was the Late Summer Litter.

"Every time I walk out to my car I get pears sticking to the bottom of my shoes. The pears drop all over my deck and my driveway. My dogs and the squirrels leave half eaten remnants, and then the yellow jackets show up, buzzing around. This tree is nothing but a nuisance."

Rolling her eyes in frustration she added, "I'm thinking about having it cut down."

"Hey, Sue! I think I may have a solution to your Pear Problem. Check your e-mail" was the message I left on her cell phone.

A discussion on REALNEO about urban gardens and social networks led me to the website of a brand new organization called Cleveland Fruit Share. The group connects the folks who would like to pick fruit with people who have fruit trees that need harvesting. They also keep their eyes open for fruit trees on abandoned or vacant lots and organize groups to make the trip with ladders and baskets. There are no membership fees, the group is made up entirely of volunteers.

Fruit trees can be a bit like ex-boyfriends; one woman's pain-in-the-neck can be another woman's dream date. As much as Susan hated the mushy slip-and-slide in her driveway, the pears were tasty, and it was a shame to let them all go to waste. She contacted the group immediately.

Saturday afternoon Bobbi, Michelle, and Dolores showed up as promised, and in almost no time, that tree was cleaned of it's crop. The pears were off the branches and into the bushel baskets, with only a few remaining at the very top of the tree, where it was impossible for anyone but the squirrels to reach.

The Cleveland Fruit Share gals thankfully took most of the pears, leaving Susan a couple buckets full, still more than she would ever use, so she is gifting friends and neighbors with fruit. Her next door neighbor loves to bake, so I'm guessing she will probably be the biggest pear beneficiary. (Especially since she sends over a slice or two of whatever comes out of the oven!)

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Support For the Arts? Just Lip Service.

For the second time this year, I attended a Zero Landfill "harvest day", scavenging through piles of discontinued sample books, last years' fabric swatches, ceramic tiles, roofing shingles, vinyl and linoleum flooring, brightly colored rubber baseboards, multi-textured glass bock, and an infinite variety of wall paper, and carpet squares. All these items are donated by local architecture and design firms, to be recycled by artists and educators, turned into art, and kept from entering our nations' landfills.

Why do I do this?

My reasons are not all tree-hugger and environmental, as noble as those motivations might be. No, I scavenge out of necessity - me, and the scores of other Cleveland teachers digging through the piles of designer discards.

You see, the average supply budget for art teachers in the Cleveland Municipal School District is $300 for the school year. Most high school teachers have five or six art classes totaling 150-170 students. Let's do the math kids...That comes to approximately $1.76-$2.00 per student to spend on art supplies for a school year that lasts 36 weeks. And how much do you think $2.00 buys in today's economy? At the dollar store I can buy a pack of 20 pencils and two pink erasers.

Unlike suburban schools, we cannot charge parents a materials fee, in fact, we are not even supposed to ask students to bring in their own supplies.

In order to do any project beyond pencil sketching on copy paper, Cleveland art teachers most often dip into our own salaries to supplement the materials bought with the meager school budget. We haunt yard sales and the close-out aisles at Marc's. Some teachers have even been known to dig clay out of creek beds so students could learn how to make ceramics. We also write grants and beg for donations. This has been the situation district-wide for approximately the past six years due to a shrinking tax base, competition with charter schools, cuts in state funding, and a failed levy.

Teachers are constantly encouraged to integrate math and reading into our art lessons. So in the spirit of math integration, I submit this simple problem. There are 140 visual arts teachers in the Cleveland Municipal School District, if each teacher gets $300 to buy art supplies each year, how much money does the district spend annually on art supplies for approximately 23,000 students who take visual art in a given year?
The answer is: $42,000 .
Keep in mind the dollar amount is approximate - some principals are more generous with their buildings' discretionary funds, and others are very stingy and will divide a few hundred dollars up between visual art and music classes, since they both fall under the Fine Arts Department description - but I guarantee it is not that far off.
The district claims to support the arts, but it seems to me those claims are mostly lip service. I wish that they would finally put some money where their mouth is.
How about this idea? Hire one less consultant and double the money for art supplies. Eliminate an administrator, and triple the art supply budget. Then maybe our students could have an arts experience comparable to the kids in the suburbs.
The community has complained long and loud about tax dollars that never seem to reach the classroom to directly impact students. From the front lines of the education battle field, today I add my voice.
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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Summer Project - 1965 VW Beetle: Part 6

"Now that is, by far, the rustiest bug I've ever seen."
The Optimist smiled, shaking his head before bending over to crawl inside the carcass of the Volkswagen Beetle. He pulled out the rotting back seat and searched in vain for any last salvageable part.
"Nothing," he pronounced.
That body, picked clean many years ago, was too far gone.

The previous afternoon, my brother Rob called to tell me he was helping his father-in-law clean out one of his barns, and there was a pile of salvaged parts from an old Volkswagen up in the hayloft. Did I think Tom would be interested?
"Interested? Thrilled is more like it."
"Well, some of the stuff is rusty, and I'm not sure what year it is, but he can have it all for free if he takes the lot."

The next morning we pulled up the driveway of the Jerome's 175 year old farmhouse in Strongsville, and were greeted by Rob and his wife's' parents Jim and Val.
Jim, retired from a long career as Strongsville's fire chief, spends his time these days traveling with his wife and tinkering with antique cars.
The old 1966 Beetle was a restoration project that seemed like a good idea a number of years ago, but eventually was abandoned in favor new adventures.

"Pull the truck back there." Rob motioned to a large barn at the back end of the rustic compound.
Climbing a steep staircase to the second floor, we walked carefully through two dusty rooms filled with the remnants of a bygone agricultural era.
Stacked in a far corner, illuminated by sunlight streaming through the open door of the hayloft, we could see a pile of doors, window glass, fenders, bumpers, a deck lid, wheels, and the unmistakable curve of a beetle hood. Many of these pieces were formerly attached to the skeletal Volkswagen in the woods.

To save repeated trips up and down the treacherous staircase, Jim brought around an old tractor rigged with a front end loader, the scoop plenty big enough to carry even the largest pieces. One part after another came down, and in no time, the truck was filled.

When we got the load home that afternoon and sorted through the stack, we found a few parts that Barney, our '65 Bug could use.

"We'll have to make some room in the garage" said The Optimist with a dangerous gleam in his eye. "You never know what we might need for the next Beetle project."

To be continued...
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Thursday, August 07, 2008

WOW - My First Wade Oval Wednesday

"Hi MB!"
It was my good friend Tony Cuda's voice on the other end of the phone.

"Have you ever been to a Wade Oval Wednesday? "

"Well, I've heard of them, does that count?"

"Let's go this Wednesday," he laughed. " I've been to a few, and can't help thinking that you would really enjoy yourself."
I always do have a good time when Tony invites me to an event, no matter where we go. Between his involment in local politics and the music scene, Tony seems to know almost everyone in Cleveland, and has introduced me to some of the most interesting people.

Wade Oval Wednesdays are free family concerts, held weekly all summer long, in the big green space (Wade Oval) that lies between the Cleveland Museum of Art, The Natural History Museum, and The Cleveland Botanical Gardens.

This week an Irish folk band, The New Barley Corns, who I've had the pleasure of listening to at many an Irish festival over the years, entertained the crowd.

I was surprised at the number of people attending this event. We heard later on it was the largest crowd so far this summer.

Little children stormed the stage whenever the band played a brisk Gaelic tune. So many young families here in Cleveland still connect with their Irish roots, and continue to pass this ancestral pride on to their kids.

Tiny feet enchanted the audience, adding a little extra, impromptu, entertainment to the scheduled performance. Irish dancing is definitely not a lost art in Cleveland, Ohio.
Tony and I met two of the most laid-back beautiful greyhounds ever. Their owner (a fellow Cleveland teacher) rescued them both from abuse, neglect, and a scheduled date for euthanasia.
Although I've seen greyhounds before, it was always at a distance. After meeting these elegant, sweet tempered creatures, I would seriously consider a greyhound when the day comes I ever would want to get a dog to replace my buddy Max.

My sincere applause to Chris Ronayne and University Circle Inc. for sponsoring Wade Oval Wednesdays. This is exactly the type of event that showcases the best of side Cleveland.
I definitely recommend my Cleveland readers make an effort to get over to University Circle on a Wednesday evening before the end of summer, especially if you have children or grandchildren. Go with your neighbors, enjoy the music, and remember the event is free.
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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Was She Talking About Cleveland?

"When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion -when you see that in order to produce, you need permission from men who produce nothing - when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you - when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming self-sacrifice - you may know that your society is doomed."

Ayn Rand

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Waterloo Arts Festival: Clevelanders Play

"Aww...Brian should have come with me." Those were my first thoughts when I walked up to the corner of East 156th and Waterloo in Clevelands' North Collinwood Neighborhood. My 16 year old, whose main form of transportation for the past 6 years has been four wheels on seven layers of wood, told me earlier in the day he would check out the art festival with me, but a last minute phone call from one of his friends offered a more enticing Saturday afternoon than hanging out with Mom. I walked into the crowd surrounding the ramps and rails set up in the middle of the street and got a few shots of the skaters. I wanted to make sure I could rub it in later on, when I told him about my evening.

"Hey! Ms. Matthews!"

I turned around, and for a moment I didn't recognize the young woman waving at me. But then she took off her Hollywood sunglasses and smiled...Aziza Nicholson! It has been twelve short years since she sat in my Art History Class at the Cleveland School of Science.
A young entrepreneur, she now goes by the name of Aziza Yasmine, and has opened a business on Buckeye Rd in Cleveland, A II Z Naturals Studio Ltd. She had a booth set up at the festival where she sat with her parents selling boutique items from her salon, organic beauty products, designer bags, and hair pieces. She was excited to tell me about her recent trip to China, where she is working with manufacturers on her own line of hair pieces.

Running into my former students has to be one of the most satisfying parts of this line of work.

The art galleries were busy when I got to the festival, and since I prefer looking at artwork by myself when I can concentrate, I spent most of my time soaking up the activity on the street. I regret that I arrived so late, as vendors and festival volunteers were already starting to pack things up. The crowd had thinned, but was still a fascinating study of 21st century Cleveland, a neighborhood redefining itself, neighbors at play.
The thing I love most about the Waterloo Arts Festival is the laid back atmosphere, like a block party where everyone is invited. Yeah, that's the thing about Waterloo; even though I've never lived there, the neighbors always make me feel like one of them, like part of the family.

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Saturday, August 02, 2008

Summer Project: 1965 VW Beetle - Part 5

"You know there's a lot more work to this thing than I first thought."

After waiting a couple of weeks for parts to start arriving, the Optimist has thrown himself wholeheartedly back into restoring Barney to his 1965 former glory. New shocks, new brake lines, new floor pans, new heater channels, new front and rear panels, and new sheet metal to replace the rusted stuff.

"Ve vill get it done!" He assures me, in the feigned burgermeister accent, that seems to be inspired by the little German car.

This week has been consumed with welding and grinding. A whole lot of hard work on his part, to be sure, but it does make for some pretty pictures from my side of the camera.

The completion date has been pushed along a few more weeks.

"End of the month," he nods "We'll be on the road by the end of the month."

To be continued...
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Friday, August 01, 2008

Summer in Cleveland: Loving the Lakefront

"That breeze feels good." I lifted my hair up off of my neck with one hand and wiped my damp skin with the other.

"What do think about taking a drive out to Whiskey Island for a beer? Can I twist your arm?" Tom's hopeful smile was even more convincing than the hot sun.

Clevelanders migrate to the lakefront when the temperature rises. The parking lot at Wendy Park was nearly filled to capacity. The volleyball courts were jammin', the restaurant was packed, families were picnicking, and couples strolled along the shore. Sitting in the shade near the water's edge, Tom and I sipped our beer and watched the sailboats racing in the harbor. A few years ago we would have been almost lonely here on Whiskey Island. It was nice to see how many people are enjoying the lake these days. I smiled a silent "Thank you" to our friend Ed Hauser.

The sun was nearing the horizon when Tom suggested we drive over to the pier at Edgewater State Park for some ice cream. Edgewater is were the real Clevelanders come to play. Young and old, every ethnicity...roller blading shirtless men, kite flying young families, Frisbee throwing couples, dog chasing children, and all up and down the breakwall, people gazing out over the the gulls, the waves, the boats, or at their fishing lines.

A people-watchers delight, I would have been happy to spend a couple of hours wandering around with my camera. But Tom was tired, he had been working since 6:00 AM, and the sun was beginning to dip below the horizon, so we finished our ice-cream and headed back to the Heights. As we drove back, I sighed and wished the east side of town had as vibrant a waterfront as the west side.

Cleveland's greatest asset has always been the lake. In a nation where sunbelt cities have become parched and water-rationed, we reside on a fresh water paradise. For years our city leaders have paid lip service to expanding the public's access to the water front, but corporate interests continue to prevail, keeping a tight grip on the miles of Cleveland shoreline that only boaters ever see. What a pity, in this city personal profit trumps vision every time.

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