Tue 6/18 @12-1PM
Democracy rings true every summer when the City Club of Cleveland’s “For the Love of Cleveland” forum series returns to Public Square for lunchtime topics that affect the greater Cleveland area.
This year’s free series boasts four themed forums — “Water: From Fire to a Nation’s Future” (June 18), “Earth: A Return to the Forest City” (June 25), “Air: Breathing Life into Tomorrow” (July 16) and “Fire: Heating Up to 100% Renewables” (July 23).
CoolCleveland talked to City Club director of programming Stephanie A. Jansky about the series and its topics.
CoolCleveland: For those unaware of this forum series, can you give us a brief history of “For the Love of Cleveland?”
Stephanie A. Jansky: “For the Love of Cleveland” started three years ago. It sort of came about when Public Square reopened and there was a New York Times article that described the square as being a place for democracy — as if the square was saying “Come here and have discussions.” I read that piece and thought it was a perfect description of the square. It was an obviously place for City Club to host forums for the community.
CC: So how did the series get off the ground?
SJ: The first year we did it in collaboration with the Cleveland Foundation’s Common Ground initiative. That series ended with a large lunch on Public Square. The conversation has always been about a topic that affects Cleveland and its neighborhoods. It’s always a local discussion. The first year we did sort of a deep dive looking at things like housing and in-migration and out-migration patterns. Last year it was a focus on placemaking. This year it’s climate change. They all take place on Tuesdays because that’s when food trucks are always on Public Square. So folks can grab lunch, sit at the picnic tables or on the grassy side of the square and listen to a City Club forum.
CC: Tell us about “Water: From Fire to a Nation’s Future.”
SJ: So this year with the anniversary of the 1969 Cuyahoga River fire it only seemed appropriate to talk about the environment. It makes sense to us to have a conversation about how climate change is affecting Cleveland and its neighborhoods.
CC: How does the series fit into the City Club of Cleveland’s mission?
SJ: Our mission is to create conversations of consequence and help democracy thrive. Sort of the underlying theme of the last three years of the series at Public Square has been equity and making sure that we’re really highlighting some of the inequities in Cleveland and Cleveland’s neighborhoods. Those are hard conversations and that’s of what City Club is about. It’s about a forum where we can sometimes bring these sometimes hard, sometimes difficult, conversations to the community in a space that encourages us to listen, ask questions, and to try and make our community a better place to be. This is a perfect example of that. This year we’re having a conversation about how climate change is affecting Cleveland and its neighborhoods. With “Earth,” we’ll be talking about trees and the tree canopy. “Air” is on air quality and air pollution. “Fire” is looking at renewable energy.
CC: Considering this year you’ll be discussing “Earth” and “Fire,” all you’re missing is wind for what would be a perfect time to book Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee act Earth, Wind & Fire.
SJ: (laughs) Believe me, we thought of that. It was a clever way to market, and we try to have these forums sort of build off each other, but understand people might not able to go to all of them. So if they just go to one they’re still getting a full experience and not feeling lost that they missed out.
CC: Similar to how the Cleveland Orchestra’s summer home is Blossom Music Center, it appears the City Club of Cleveland has a similar dynamic with its summer Public Square forums.
SJ: Yeah, it’s kind of like a summer home. We’ve done between four and six the last three years, depending on Public Square’s availability and funding. It’s a fun series. We really enjoy going to the square and seeing people from all parts of the community coming out and being a part of the City Club event. We just hope for good weather. We haven’t had a rainout, yet. (Note: In case of rain, the event will be held in the Old Stone Church downstairs banquet hall.)
[Written by John Benson]