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The Listening Project

October 2009 - Environment

The October survey featured questions related to the topic of environment and to the cadre of environmentally-minded programs that aired on ideastream in late September-early October, 2009. Major promotional effort went into the airing of Ken Burns’ “The National Parks” mini-series, including a locally-produced program, “A Day in the Park,” that featured pictures and video of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park taken and submitted by ideastream viewers and listeners.

Below are the five questions from the October survey, and selected responses. There were 253 people who participated in October’s questionnaire.

Question #1
Did you see and/or hear promotion about the “A Day in the Park” photo opportunity? Choose all that apply.

October Question 1

On August 30, 2009, ideastream hosted “A Day in the Park” event at the Happy Days Lodge in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Photographers, both professional and amateur, were invited to the event via a series of radio, television and online promotional spots. The participants were instructed on the basics of nature photography by members of the Cuyahoga Valley Photographic Society, a partner on the event with ideastream. After the session and Q&A, participants ventured out into the park with their cameras to capture images for use on WVIZ/PBS, either in the 30-minute television program, “A Day in the Park,” as backgrounds in “bumper spots” between programming, or for other uses, including an online photo gallery. About 75 people attended the event.

A majority of respondents to the October survey did not see or hear the spots for the event. From those that did, slightly more saw it on television than heard it on radio.

Here is a sampling of the response to the open-ended portion of the question:

“Obviously, needs more PR.”

“Thanks for helping promote CVNP!”

“Yes, but I do not remember the source - probably both TV and radio.”

“Good idea; repeat next year. ‘A Day in the Park at Noon’ is a good idea.”

“Good way to promote.”

“Good idea; I wanted to do it but didn’t get around to it.”

“The Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a gem that needs constant promotion.”

“Love it! I’ve seen some of the pictures, heard about it on Around Noon. Fantastic idea.”

“It was silly.”

Question #2
Have you seen, heard and/or participated in any of the following recent ideastream broadcasts and events (choose all that apply)?

October Question 2

As it was a major production, it’s not surprising that 90% of respondents said they’d seen the “The National Parks” broadcast on WVIZ/PBS. The other four programs did a very effective job at driving traffic to the series, as demonstrated by the following overlap of responses in this question:

• 90% of PBS Previews “The National Parks” viewers also watched “The National Parks.”
• 89% of listeners to the Around Noon episode about “A Day in the Park” also watched “The National Parks.” (37% watched “A Day in the Park")
• 97% of “A Day in the Park” viewers watched “The National Parks.”
• 92% of “The Return of the Cuyahoga” viewers watched “The National Parks.”

Here is a sampling of the open-ended response from this question:

“Thoroughly enjoyed The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. Relived my trips to the parks. Wish I had seen the series before I went as it would have made my experience more meaningful.”

“Ken Burns’ program on TV was disappointing. I hoped for more visual images of a variety of parks around the country. He seemed limited to the western states and more old photos of people involved than views of nature.”

“Loved the Cuyahoga movie. Enjoyed Nat’l Parks, but it was a little slow & the music uninspiring.”

“We watched the whole series on the National Parks, many of which we have visited. It was excellent.”

“Keep up the good work. We elderly non-drivers cannot ‘go there’ any more so depend upon these shows.”

“Ken Burns’ programs were not what I expected, but well worth watching. The Cuyahoga Valley program was interesting. How about a program that focuses more on its formation and geology? Or has that been done?”

“Ken Burns’ “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” = AWESOME”

“How about a day in a park by Lake Erie?”

“I loved them all and thought I knew a lot about the National Parks and the Cuyahoga National Park, but I found out I really did not know enough.”

“I enjoy the connection between the national and the regional story—I would have liked to have seen some recognition of local conservation efforts like Western Reserve Land Conservancy.”

“A great partnership between ideastream and Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Ken Burns was terrific and this collaboration was very meaningful.”

Question #3
Has ideastream’s recent environmental coverage led you to… (choose all that apply)

October Question 3

Viewers and listeners of “The National Parks” and its related programming on ideastream were driven to participate in regional environmental events and organizations and/or visit and explore local parks.

Here’s a selection of the response from those that answered “Do something else not listed here”:

“Volunteer waterways clean-up.”

“Learn more about glaciers, coal mines, etc.”

“Look at scooters with high mileage.”

“Stopped using chemicals on lawn.”

“Attend a program on global climate change and increase my efforts to lessen my carbon footprint.”

“Visit Mill Creek Park.”

“Realize, yet again, that this city is not as lake-centric as is should be.”

“Made me more aware that we need each other to help.”

“I would like to read more about the National Parks, particularly a set of National Geographic books from my youth that I enjoyed. The show reminded me of my own memorable experiences at Glacier, the Great Smokey Mountains, Mammoth Cave, and our own Cuyahoga Valley and how valuable they are, although they can easily be underappreciated.”

“Made me think more seriously about other national parks that I would like to visit, while appreciating how fortunate we are to have such a great national park in our region.”

“I’m thinking about the Cleveland Landbank and potentially using it to have a wind mill production business on the land at Berea Road and Madison Avenue. The former Midland Steel plant land could be an economic engine for Cleveland once again, and produce products that are GREEN.”

Question #4
When you think of Lake Erie, what is the first thing that comes to mind?

Responses to this question were different and many, but several themes did emerge: the lake is underutilized, both as a resource and as a destination; the lake water pollution is still an issue - however, many also pointed out the value of having fresh water available; the lake is a scenic highlight; the lake is difficult to access.

Here are some highlights from the responses:

“Defining natural resource of NE Ohio - part of Great Lakes watershed, therefore internationally significant body of water.”

“Unfortunately, I think of the extremely dirty beaches and a fear of going in the water. But, I also think of this great little winery in Geneva on the Lake. Rethink how more people should be making that kind of use of the Lake.”

“Our most valuable regional asset.”

“We are blessed that our folks settled here a long time ago.”

“We need to develop the lakefront. I arrived here in 1984 from Philadelphia and was astounded this had not been done. Still not done.”

“Its size & beauty, especially at sunset.”

“When I was a kid in the early sixties - I did a paper on how the center of the lake was dead...hard to believe 40 years later more hasn’t improved - and that Cleveland STILL does not regard the lake as a valuable asset.”

“Warm breezes while sitting on a Lakewood Park bench, watching the sail boats and not thinking.”

“Beautiful - wish I could look at it all the time. Wish there were more places to enjoy it - just for the view. Sometimes, I’ll stop off MLK from 2/90E - but the park there doesn’t really invite you to get out and walk - with all the signs saying don’t.”

“The lack of parks! For a region filled with wonderful parks the lack of available public access to our lake’s shoreline is shameful.”

“Lake Erie is what brought me home to Cleveland after 25 years of missing what was so much a part of growing up. What a treasure! But it is locked away from access by the people to whom it belongs. Access to the vista of water, helping the Lake clean itself, wild swings of Lake borne storms and peaceful calm, and contemplating the water as the source of our lives are experiences built into us and go deeper than the water.”

“A tremendous asset that Northeast Ohioans don’t seem to embrace, in most cities on a lake, you are always aware of that big body of water. In Cleveland it’s easy to forget that the city is on a lake. Sad.”

“Mystery and blessing, a place that cannot be controlled or understood, and has so much to give us spiritually, physically, and culturally.”

“Lake effect snow!”

Question #5
What are the region’s environmental assets?

Not surprisingly, Lake Erie was mentioned in a majority of the responses. Other recurring assets included the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Nelson’s Ledges, the Metroparks, Towpath Trail, Magee Marsh Nature Reserve, Holden Arboretum, and local beaches.

Some more abstract assets were also mentioned: nature, forests, rivers, seasons (and change of seasons), green spaces, wildlife, and climate.

Some of the responses to this question included:

“More dedicated public park space than any other metro area I know of; places for hiking and biking; the towpath trail; some great waterfalls; and the shear amount of green space.”

“We have beautiful but under used lake front property, an abundance of fresh water, and mild climate, i.e. no hurricanes, earthquakes, few tornadoes, comparatively little flooding.”

“The Emerald Necklace, Cleveland’s parks network, is known internationally as a great planning idea (I first heard about it in Ottawa, Canada, where I used to live). Cleveland’s people are environmental assets too—some of the initiatives that are coming up are great. The Green City Blue Lake Institute and David Beach. The CityWheels car-sharing program. Dike 14 and the people intent on preserving it. And, I gather, there is a good and inexpensive solar panel that’s either being produced, or about to be produced, by Clevelanders; not sure where I heard this. I’d like to know more about that.”

“Northeast Ohio is blessed with fabulous environmental assets, from Lake Erie, to CVNP, Cleveland Metroparks, The Holden Arboretum. We are on the convergence of 3 ecozones: Lake Shore, Allegheny Plateau, (mountains) and the Great Plains. The biodiversity of the region is unsurpassed in this climate.”

“Lake Erie is the best. Why can’t we get down to it? Should be all public.”

“Lake Erie, particularly the communally-owned properties known as Beach Club organizations along the east side of Cuyahoga County. These organizations have a tremendous positive impact on the health of the shoreline acting to stabilize and often heal the environment. Oh, and that Cuyahoga National Valley is a nice place to bicycle.”

Question #6
What are the region’s environmental challenges?

A majority of respondents, whether directly or indirectly, mentioned pollution as a challenge (keeping water and air clean, invasive species, industrial waste).

Some of the responses included:

“Overcoming our legacy of environmental degradation epitomized by the burning of the Cuyahoga River. Interestingly, this catastrophic event is also one of our region’s greatest assets since it inspired the modern environmental movement.”

“Teaching the community to clean up after themselves, and to protect the parks and lake.”

“Clean air - the steelyards may be good for jobs - but the scent returning to the air is most unpleasant. Any way to have both jobs and clean air?”

“The watershed areas associated with Lake Erie. Most residents living more then 1/4 mile inland do not think twice about pouring toxic substances into our sewers, fertilizing lawns etc. All have detrimental impact on the health of our lake.”

“Pollution is definitely our number one problem. Sure, the lake’s not catching on fire, but we are still far from a truly clean watershed. I also think the convenience of recycling is a HUGE issue. I used to pay extra for recycling only to discover that the company we used wasn’t recycling at all, but dumping. And in these tough economic times, sustaining our resources economically is a challenge - funding, maintenance, etc..”

“Lack of leadership --civic and private—for developing our waterfront, the lake and river. Talk, talk, talk...and nothing seems to happen.”

“Storm water runoff is a bigger issue than people realize. A series that would inform residents on the effects of storm water runoff, and what they can do to mitigate it, would be wonderful. The city will impose a $4 - $5 per month assessment on area residents to update the sewer system, however, we can offset this with credits (e.g. building a rain garden, using pervious surfaces rather than impervious surfaces for parking lots). Educate the public on the benefits of this, and what we can do.”

“Coexisting with necessary industrial needs. Raising awareness and action in local population on at-home sustainability practices. Economic Development with eco-friendly businesses.”

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