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The Listening Project

Fall 2011 - Assets and Challenges

The Fall 2011 Listening Project survey asked just two questions in order to ascertain the community’s views on what were the region’s biggest assets and challenges. The results of this survey help inform ideastream’s programming and coverage decisions.


The top assets from the 2011 survey respondents, in order, are:

2011 Results
Arts and Culture
Parks and the Lake
Cost of Living
Health Care

2010 Results
Arts and Culture
Cost of Living

Many other assets were mentioned, but were either a subcategory of the above or were very few in number. See below for some sample responses.


The most important challenges from the survey respondents in 2011, in order, are:

2011 Results
Jobs and Economy
Community Identity

2010 Results
Jobs and Economy
Urban Sprawl
People/Racial Issues

Many other challenges were mentioned, but were either a subcategory of the above or were very few in number. See below for some sample responses.

Question #1: What are the best things about living in Northeast Ohio? Provide as many examples as you like.

“Arts, our museums. Cleveland Art Museum, Natural History Museum, Cleveland Botanical Garden, Western Reserve Historical Society. Lakeland Civic Chorus. The Cleveland Orchestra and PlayhouseSquare are available, but pricey for moderate incomes.  Culture, the many ethnic groups preserving their cultures. i.e. Italian Choral Group--the cultural gardens in University Circle, Murray Hill Art Walk.  Medicine, world class health care!  Parks, our National Park, the Cleveland Metroparks, and the Lake county Parks.”

“Low, comfortable cost of living.  Lake Erie & islands.  Metroparks.  No real risk of natural disasters.”

“Education--we have many fine institutions of higher learning--and need more technical training institutions.  Many people are not college material, but do very well with skills learned at technical institutions!  Bricklayers and pipefitters are needed, and Unions and their system of training them are on its way out.  This actually falls into question #2 of local challenges.  1.  The people.  2.  The cultural diversity.  3.  The accessibility of the arts.  4.  The West Side Market.  5.  The availability of higher education.  6.  Extraordinary medical facilities.”

“Cleveland is loaded with LOTS of culture - of all kinds.  And it is easily accessible.”

“The beautiful spring, summer & fall.  R&R Hall of Fame.  Lake Erie activities.”

“Because of its proximity to fresh water and large amount of vacant land, Cleveland is a place of tremendous opportunity for innovative, community-based projects aimed at increasing our resilience and regional self-sufficiency.  Our local food movement and the huge growth in urban farming (and buying from urban farms) in the past few years is a great example of community-driven solutions to problems like rising food and fuel costs and concerns about the increase in lifestyle-related degenerative diseases.”

“Pleasant people, lower cost of housing, plenty of (higher) educational opportunities within short commute.”

“The lake, the weather, the restaurants and family.”

“Best (and most important) things, in order: the People, the Lake, the Arts, the real neighborhoods (I live in Cleveland Heights, where we have them), the HUGE potential, the very low cost of living, the generally high quality of life. If you doubt the value of the last two items, just spend a little time in California, for instance.”

“Good museums, theater, music, restaurants, suburbs, hospitals; relatively cool summers.”

“Metroparks - nice programs and facilities. Easy commutes. Relatively low cost of living. Having all 4 seasons! Downtown Cleveland seems cleaner/nicer than 10+ years ago (flowers along Euclid, fewer homeless people begging, cleaner streets, Downtown Cleveland Alliance). Flats redevelopment is a positive step. Movie filmings. Farmers markets throughout the warm months.”

“Low cost of living, high quality health care, seasonal changes in weather, Lake Erie.”

“Arts: The Cleveland Art Institute, The Cleveland Institute of Music, The Cleveland Orchestra, Severance Hall, WCLV classic radio, 24/7 NPR radio station, The Mt. Pleasant Labor Day Parade & events.  Cedar Point, Emerald Neck/Metro Parks, fishing.  Excellent schools in the suburbs.  Cultural diversity with lots of harmony.  People with a strong work ethic and strong quality family values.  Networking organizations just tap into them, the resources are there.”

“Family is within one hour and a half’s drive.  Lake Erie is near.  My roots and relatives are here.  Many museums to visit.”

“Lots to do, loads of culture (music, arts, theater, foreign films, dance, etc.), great (and free) parks, many good restaurants, interesting walking neighborhoods, diversity, many good public schools, low cost of living, accessibility to many other good cities to visit, seldom too hot, good public radio.”

“An abundance of unique communities to live in.”

“The pace of life -easy to get around most places in Cleveland and Ohio; the lake and the Cleveland, Lake County and other Metroparks are a huge plus; the family values, education opportunities; the spirit of service among non-profits; University Circle institutions; the CMA; the cultural opportunities; the cost of living.”

“Cost of living, seasons.”

“Big city amenities and smaller city problems—the arts and culture, fabulous food scene, green space and the Lake, relatively low cost of living, low traffic issues (compared to larger cities).”

“The beautiful spring, summer & fall.  R&R Hall of Fame.  Lake Erie activities.”

“Metroparks; CVNP; Cleveland Orchestra; light traffic.”

“WVIZ, Cleveland Orchestra, Museums, Metroparks, change of seasons, B-W College and its Conservatory of Music and all their programs, friendly and helpful people, excellent medical facilities, Lake Erie, Jazz.”

Friendly people, Lake Erie, diversity, we’re central to so much, good cost of living, 4 seasons.”

“It’s cheaper than a lot of other places.”

“DIVERSITY. Cultural venues, higher educational facilities, library systems.”

Question #2: What are the most pressing local challenges or problems for Northeast Ohio? Provide as many examples as you like.

“Jobs/unemployment. Population loss.  Revenue/budget challenges for municipalities/public entities,”

“Brain drain (Summer on the Cuyahoga is a great program, trying to address this - would make a good Sound of Ideas program).  Public transportation (would love to see return of streetcars).  Lakefront access - think I-90 should be moved south a bit so there could be park land between MLK Blvd. and downtown (like in Chicago, Milwaukee). We need visionaries to see the potential of the neighborhoods, between the Cleveland Clinic and downtown to lake (and without displacing current residents, make those areas more desirable for development). This makes more sense than building out into exurbs.”

“Economic development and unemployment.”

“The biggest challenge Cleveland has and has always had and that is worth looking into is, as you said, our inferiority complex.  Does it stem from our forefathers, where does it come from?  How can we resolve it?  We have been coming up with logos and slogans to turn this image around.  It’s time to stop talking and coming up with catchy slogans and continue to do the work we are doing, which is growing our city neighborhoods, taking care of each other, coming up with ways to improve, really improve our education, create jobs of course and get on with it.  Our leaders ought to be going to NYC and cities that are vibrant and bringing back the energy and aura and infuse our city with its positive vibrations.  This is it in a nut shell.  It is our capacity for positive energy that is needed to increase.  Let us close our ears to what others say about us and quietly come together to form a new strengthened attitude.  It can and must be done.”

“Lack of reliable public transit options.”

“The label of Northeast Ohio as a “union town” and the perception that business is not growing and jobs are not available.”

“Transitioning from an industrial city to a modern post-industrial city like Pittsburgh.  Cleveland is not taking advantage of a unique asset that sets it apart from many other cities - Lake Erie.  The entire waterfront downtown should be accessible to the public - a giant park that allows people to access & enjoy the lake.  Schools need to be improved.”

“SCHOOLS!  If we don’t invest in our students and teachers we will continue losing jobs in the area.  It is one of the most complex issues, yet resources continue to be drained away.  It is also of great concern since the achievement gap is widening between white students and Blacks and Puerto Rican students.  JOBS!!  Again a complex issue, but I seriously worry for my children and grandchildren’s future opportunities.”

“Funding our school systems.”

“Employment, financial stability, cultural awareness.”

“Poor public education, lousy state government, poverty, unemployment, awful county government until recently, poor public transportation.”

“Sense of civic pride.  Bold leadership”

“Cleveland Schools.  Urban Sprawl and the impact on 1st and 2nd ring suburbs.  Local politics can sometimes get out of hand, but there’s a lot worse out there.  Actually, intra-community cooperation is improving.  More regionalism is needed.”

“Jobs, funding for cities, aging infrastructure.”

“Economy and jobs.”

“The urban space with a lot of abandoned homes and unkept properties.”

“Economy. People are gun-shy about spending because the economy keeps going down.”

“Partisanship and class warfare.”

“Public education funding.  Unemployment of black Americans.  Racial Divide.”

“Racial/economic inequality.  Inadequate inner-city education & resident employment opportunities.  The lack of a coordinated successful vision & support for central Cleveland’s future, including growth & adequate finances to run a thriving city (once 900,000/now less than 400,000; an industrial dynamo & home of many wealthy).  Little central city opportunity to experience Lake Erie without sacrificing valuable existing facilities such as the lakefront airport - to date no downtown shoreline living, restaurants, beaches and entertainment (maybe the east flats development will fill that need).  Passenger railroads once had grand downtown and other city facilities - currently reduced to a puny out-of-the-way station without strong, dynamic presence, civic importance, draw, character and easily accessible location.  Little reason to go downtown regularly, except for business, law & government records.  New downtown living is not supported with adjacent walkable neighborhood facilities - supermarkets, other every-day shopping and parks. There is little left of Cleveland’s historical non-governmental architecture - unlike other inner-city neighborhoods such as Greenwich Village that bring character and variety to urban living.”

“Jobs, keeping the arts, and sports teams. Education.”

“#1 – JOBS”

“JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!!!!!  2. Corrupt and ineffective government.  3. Outrageous costs of treatment at the extraordinary medical facilities.  4. Gun related crime.  5. Inadequate funding for schools.  6.  Failure to attract sufficient new business to bolster and revive the city.”

“Pessimism.  Emotions are contagious, and the degree to which native Clevelanders are down on this region just kills me.  Stop that!  Parochialism and fragmentation of government and resources.  Infrastructure.  We face the same issues as all older cities.  Water, gas, sewer, roads, bridges.  We need to find the resources to care for our internal systems before we start to experience major breakdowns.  I think that’s all I got right now.  I hope the above makes sense!”

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