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Cleveland as our future

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
August 16, 2001


Greetings from the historic city of Cleveland. A place of contrast, Cleveland is a city of magnificent oaks, stately manors, and hard core urban blight. Situated where the Cuyahoga empties into Lake Erie, Cleveland was at the epicenter of the beginning of the world as we know it, for it is here that John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil began America's addiction to fossil fuel.

Serving as a testament to the false promise of materialistic progress, and the ever decreasing benefits to be gained from it's pursuit, Cleveland represents a crash course in western civilization from a distinctly American point of view. Offering cultural and civic splendor, paid for by relentless environmental exploitation and degradation, Cleveland is a tangle of hope and hopelessness, we would be wise to take notice of.

Perspective is best obtained from a distance. Leaving Southern California to spend time in a post industrial mid western city is something all of us should do as a way of understanding what is in store for our rapidly growing communities. Although California prides itself on being at the cutting edge of everything, municipalities such as Cleveland have experienced so many busts and booms, westerners should be looking to them for advice.

Cleveland is one of the fabled industrial cities that grew rich from steel mills in the late 19th , and the early 20th century. Ask any local historian and they will tell you that such expansive industrialization was both a curse and a blessing. The curse of course was the rampant pollution that is still being felt long after most of the steel mills have closed their doors.

Areas such the Flats, and neighborhoods such as Tremont, still struggle with the toxic ghosts of it's industrial past while trying to maintain it's economical health.

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