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Sound of Ideas Community Tour | How wealth and power has shaped Northeast Ohio

A shot of the seated crowd that attended the "Sound of Ideas Community Tour" inside of The Cleveland History Center.
Matt Crow
Ideastream Public Media
The latest "Sound of Ideas Community Tour" was held at The Cleveland History Center.

"Money is power." You hear it all the time. Those who have wealth have power. And with economic inequality growing in America, is the power imbalance growing with it? How are those with wealth using their power, and is it possible for those on the bottom end of the wealth gap to still gain power?

Those questions were front and center of the latest “Sound of Ideas Community Tour,” which was held at the Cleveland History Center in conjunction with the Cleveland Orchestra’s 2024 Humanities Festival, whose theme this year focused on power.

The Community Tour conversation looked back at Cleveland’s history through its heyday, when magnates of industries built mansions up and down Millionaire’s Row. But it also discussed current challenges, as the city also ranks as one of the poorest big cities in the United States.

Challenges and inequities are particularly evident when looking at the racial divides in the region. The discussion dug into how Black and brown communities have been historically left behind in amassing wealth, and what solutions could be going forward.

Panelists for the conversation represented a wide range of disciplines and perspectives, and included John Grabowski, historian from Case Western Reserve University, Ronnie Dunn, urban studies professor at Cleveland State University, Yanela Sims, the Vice President of Service Employees International Union Local 1, and Timothy Tramble, President and CEO of the Saint Luke’s Foundation.

Four panelists sitting at a long table in front of a mural.
Matt Crow
Ideastream Public Media
The panelists for the "Sound of Ideas Community Tour: Wealth and Power in Northeast Ohio."

- John Grabowski Ph.D., Krieger-Muller Joint Professor in History, Case Western Reserve University; Historian, The Western Reserve Historical Society
- Ronnie Dunn Ph.D., Executive Director of the Diversity Institute, Associate Professor of Urban Studies, Cleveland State University 
- Yanela Sims, Vice President, Service Employees International Union, Local 1
- Timothy Tramble, President and CEO, Saint Luke’s Foundation of Cleveland 

Drew Maziasz is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and also serves as the show’s technical producer.