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Cities

Essential resources course, stewardship of natural resources. Includes energy, water and land. climate change, stormwater runoff and green infrastructure, energy efficiency and advanced energy, urban design, urban planning, land use, relationship between ecology, society and built infrastructure. 

The POWER of Cities

Urban Sustainability and Resilience

"This program taught me a lot about sustainability in a more engaging way than a normal school environment. I really liked how we went out and talked to a lot of people dealing with sustainability in NE Ohio—it provided an excellent opportunity to work with leaders in the field, and put our ideas into action." --2015 participant

June 18-July 1

Today, more than half the world’s population lives in cities. By 2050, it is projected that nearly 70% of people will be urban dwellers. To put this global urban migration into context, that is the equivalent of adding over 1 million people to cities every week until 2050!

With this exponential growth, it’s become more urgent than ever to ensure that our cities are designed to meet the needs of their diverse residents. Cities are dynamic ecosystems. When they operate efficiently and effectively, the result is healthy, thriving metropolises. But today, with inequitable distributions of power and decision-making, unbalanced systems, and poor planning, cities are disproportionately driving climate change and social injustice.The success of cities in the 21st Century will be dependent on our ability to ensure they are efficient, resilient, and intelligent, and that they meet the needs of all residents, across lines of race, income and neighborhood.

Through an urban design and planning lens, students in this course will explore the complex interplay between the built, natural, and social systems of cities, using Cleveland as their primary case study. By interviewing community organizers, government officials, urban designers, and more, they will better understand the role of policy, technology, industry, economy and equity in shaping contemporary Cleveland. As their final project, they will be challenged to consider the needs of diverse stakeholders, and draw on best practices and innovative interventions from around the world, in order to reimagine Cleveland as a thriving, resilient and sustainable metropolis for the 21st Century. 


Lead Instructor: Lyndon Valicenti 

This will be Lyndon's third summer teaching Foresight Prep @ Oberlin's Cities course—during that time, she's grown passionate about working with young people to understand the complex challenges facing urban areas, and coming up with innovative ideas for addressing them. 

Lyndon Valicenti brings over 10 years of experience in scientific study, policy analysis, and planning around sustainable ecological and urban systems. She has conducted scientific research on vulnerable ecosystems in the Arctic and Antarctic; contributed to debates on international climate change policy; developed and implemented engagement programs to support city-scale climate action; and has informed ecological thinking in urban planning across China and the Middle East. She holds a Masters in Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University and a Bachelors of Science in Aquatic Ecology from University of California, Santa Barbara. She also holds a certificate in Sustainable Urban and Environmental Design from Archeworks.


Potential Field Trips & Guest Speakers

Each Foresight Prep course includes an average of 10-15 guest speakers or field trip sites. The final schedule will be set in May-June 2017. Below is a selection of some of students' favorite guests from past years of our Cities course. 

Kim Foreman

Kim is the Executive Director (ED) of Environmental Health Watch (EHW), an environmental justice (EJ) organization. Founded in 1980, EHW has worked in issues ranging from lead abatement to food access, and advocates for the communities most disproportionately affected by environmental toxicities and climate change through activities that include direct services, technical consulting, research and policy development, amongst others. EHW also functions as a connector and organizer for EJ groups across the region. As EHW’s ED, Kim draws upon her nearly two decades of work addressing environmental challenges affecting low income communities of color, and is often the primary representative of the EJ perspective at many decision-making tables. She is a driving force in movements for social and environmental justice in Cleveland.  

Matt Gray

Matt is the Chief of Sustainability for the City of Cleveland. Working under the direct supervision of the mayor, the Office of Sustainability plans, finances, and executes a variety of sustainability initiatives ranging from internal efficiency improvements to large community outreach programs. Their broad mandate and small budget often necessitate that the department focus on diplomacy and alliance-building, working towards deep cultural change. The central organizing principle of the Office’s current efforts is the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 plan. This initiative is centered on nine subsequent “Celebration Years” which each focus on a specific area of sustainability (beginning in 2011 with the “Year of Energy Efficiency”). During each year, a community-wide summit is held which brings together as many as 500 diverse participants to discuss the “celebrated” focus issue and generate new strategies. 

Erick Rodriguez

Erick is the Director of Neighborhood Planning and Engagement for Burten, Bell, Carr Development, Incorporated (BBC) a non-profit neighborhood development organization founded in 1990 that serves most of Cleveland's Ward 5. Its mission is to enhance the quality of life for residents by leveraging partnerships with residents, community groups, government, corporations and institutions to cultivate housing, retail, employment, and recreation opportunities. During his time at BBC, Erick has worked across Cleveland neighborhoods through a broad group of community stakeholders to contribute to an international dialogue about the development and implementation of EcoDistricts. Erick is crafting a comprehensive set of strategies that will serve as a useful tool for both city leaders and community members to recognize ways their neighborhoods can come together to incorporate sustainability as an essential driver for neighborhood development. 

Jim Rokakis

Jim served for a decade as Cuyahoga County Treasurer, where he helped pass a bill that streamlined the foreclosure process for abandoned properties, and was the driving force behind the bill that allowed for the creation of the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation, also known as the Cuyahoga County Land Bank. He now serves as the Director of the Thriving Communities Institute at the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, helping ensure that land banking is used within and beyond Cleveland as a tool for removing neighborhood blight and improving communities. Prior to his role as County Treasurer, he served for 19 years in the Cleveland City Council, having been elected as its youngest member at age 22, while still a student at Oberlin College. He has been recognized by local and national organizations for his efforts in strengthening neighborhoods and communities. In 2007 he received the NeighborWorks America Local Government Service Award, the Leadership in Social Justice Award from Greater Cleveland Community Shares and was named the County Leader of the Year by American City and County Magazine. He earned his undergraduate degree at Oberlin College, and his Juris Doctorate degree from Cleveland-Marshall School of Law.

Terry Schwarz

Terry is the Director of Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC), which combines client-based consulting and graduate-level teaching to impact urban design decisions and land use policy in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. CUDC is considered a leader in the urban design and planning spaces throughout the region, and frequently provides strategic guidance to the Thriving Communities Institute, Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (Cleveland's transportation and environmental planning entity), Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (the coordinating body for Cleveland’s network of Community Development Corporations), and the Mayor’s Office. One of Terry’s current projects involves helping community development organizations implement a process of resident engagement and co-design to create local solutions aimed at reducing carbon emissions and mitigating the public health impacts of climate change at the neighborhood level throughout Cleveland.