Saturday, August 10, 2013

Glenville Shout out!

Writing that title recalls the infamous Glenville shoot out of 1968, an event that may have changed Cleveland more than the Hough riots. That's a subject for a different day.

Today I want to correct an omission that could have fit an earlier post regarding this weekend's events and alert readers to the Glenville neighborhood festival taking place today. Following the noon parade from Superior Avenue and East 105 Street, the festival's fulcrum will be at the intersection of St. Clair Avenue and East 88 Street.

Over 10,000 people shared in last year's festival. For more information, visit the festival website here.

In what is either astute planning or serendipity, this is also the 50th high school reunion of the Glenville High School class of 1963. Tonight's reunion banquet is taking place at Highland Golf Course near Chagrin Blvd. and Green Road in Beachwood.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Nonprofit Thursday | BPA, TPC, Nigerians, One World Festival; East Cleveland Primary

BPA to hold annual gala at new convention center

The Black Professionals Association Charitable Foundation will hold one of the first civic events at Cleveland’s New Convention Center on October 19. That’s the date of BPACF’s annual fundraising scholarship gala, which this year will recognize Pastor R. A. Vernon of The Word Church as its Black Professional of the Year. For more information, visit or call 216.229.7110.
• • •

Presidents Council Foundation seeking volunteers for golf outing fundraiser

The Presidents Council has put out a call for volunteers to assist in its 5th Annual Golf Outing Fundraiser, which is set for Monday, August 19th at Barrington Country Club. The Council is looking for volunteers to help with registration, raffle and auction sales, golf side games, as well as assorted other odds and ends around the course.

Morning and afternoon shifts are available.

TPC program and operations manager Athena Nimmer will be happy to answer your questions about volunteering. For more information, call or write her at 216.771.8702 x224 or
• • •

Concerned Partners in Education host scholarship luncheon in Lee-Harvard this Saturday

Retired educator and CPE founder Gwendolyn Norfleet-Rogers has announced the 7th Annual Scholarship Fundraiser Luncheon twill be this Saturday, starting at 11AM,  at the Harvard Community Services Center, 18240 Harvard Ave.
For more information call 216.921.5130.
• • •

Nigerian cultural festival and dinner at the Civic this Saturday

Northeast Ohioans of Nigerian heritage are inviting you to feast, dance and party with them this Saturday night at the Sixth Annual Iri-ji & Igbo Cultural Festival Dinner. The event will be held from 7PM until 1AM at the Civic, 3130 Mayfield Road in Cleveland Heights [just east of Lee Road].

The event sponsor is the group Nzuko Ndi Igbo of Northeast Ohio [NNINO] whose webpage says they were established in 2009 to promote and foster love, unity and progress among Ndi Igbo in Northeast, Ohio.

Well-known area businessman Michael Obi was elected the group’s president earlier this year. He emailed The Real Deal to say cultural dances and performances, a buffet style dinner [8PM], a dramatization of the Iri-ji Festival, and much dancing will be among the evening’s highlights.

Tickets are $30 for adults, and $20 for children 13-17; children under 13 may attend free of charge.

For more information: or 440.212.2567.
• • •

Cleveland One World Festival debuts Aug. 25

Attending the Nigerian cultural festival and dinner sounds like a good way to get warmed up for Cleveland’s inaugural One World Festival, billed as a way to “celebrate the world’s diversity with a one day cornucopia of music, art, sports, and food”

Cleveland’s first One World Festival will take place Sunday, August 25 in the Cultural Gardens of Rockefeller Park, on either side of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

This free community event will offer a wide array of arts and activities for folks of all ages and ethnicities, and will feature continuous programming at a half dozen stages, dozens of artisans displaying their crafts, and various sports.

The one-day event will run from noon to 9PM along a strip stretching from the Irish Garden to the African American Garden. Ethnic food offerings will be available, as well as ethnic beer, wine and national specialty drinks.

The event will honor One World Day, the 66th annual event celebrating the city’s diversity and will include the naturalization ceremony honoring new immigrants to the United States. Free shuttles will take attendees from Wade Oval and Gordon Park to the festival location throughout the day.

Visitors to the festival will be able to park for free at a large, secure new facility at East 105th St & Magnolia Dr. Once parked, visitors can board one of the free UCI shuttles that will circle the gardens for the duration of the festival, dropping them off at a number of convenient locations along MLK Jr. Drive and East Boulevard.

A Parade of Nations down the main thoroughfare of Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, starting at 1PM, will feature a diverse range of participants, from flag-bearers and stilt-walkers to bagpipers and belly dancers. Highlights include the Shaw High School Marching Band, giant Follow the Fish sculptures, and accordionists from the Polka Hall of Fame. The parade will begin at the Irish Garden and conclude at the African American Garden, where the annual naturalization ceremony for newly minted United States citizens will occur.

Organizers of the One World Festival envision growing the event through 2016 — the 100th anniversary of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens — culminating in a spectacular weekend-long festival covering the entire 276 acres of Rockefeller Park from Lake Erie to Wade Lagoon.

For more information, call James Levin at 216-347-3499, email, or visit OWF’s website or Facebook page.


A viewing of ballots for the October 1, 2013 Primary Election, to be held in the City of East Cleveland, will be available for the public on Friday, August 9, 2013 (comments welcome). Ballots will be posted at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections at 2925 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115 and on the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections website,

Comment by phone, (216) 443-3298 or e-mail,

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

A Near Perfect Summer Day [except for those pesky Tigers]

What? You didn’t know that Cleveland sat in a valley with mountains to the south?
On this day, standing in front of the Cleveland Botanical Garden, you could at a glance mistake the curved steel roof of Case Western Reserve University's Peter B. Lewis Building for some distant mountains. 

Today was a day to celebrate Cleveland. We had some typical Cleveland weather — a sudden late-morning rainstorm that momentarily transformed the upper Larchmere area into a feeder stream for the nearby Baldwin Reservoir, followed by a perfectly lovely sun-drenched canopy for Wade OvalWednesday in Cleveland’s unsurpassed University Circle.

Wade Oval Wednesdays always suggest the kind of generative spirit that outsiders see as emblematic of Cleveland’s potential. It’s a summertime party for the community, a casual recapitulation of a healthy cross-section of our diverse region, and seemingly a far remove from the tortured spirits of the Anthony Sowells, Ariel Castros, rogue cops, and predatory lenders that prey on the abandoned neighborhoods and people of that larger community.

I came to Wade Oval today fresh from a smart assessment of the opportunities and challenges of our regional economy, presented by the Center for Community Solutions. I think of the Center as having a somewhat distant and sterile diagnostic approach to assessing what ails us, but that sense may stem from my once having been a board member there when it was known as the Federation of Community Planning. Then, as now, it was the pedigreed agency anointed with the task of analyzing Cleveland’s emerging socio-cultural issues and charting strategic approaches to mitigate those challenges. As the establishment agency of choice, it has both the credibility to sound the alarm but too often not the temperament to match the temperature. The data may be alarming but the analysis remains dispassionate.

But today the Center was on point doing one of the things it does best: convening a host of dedicated social and civic workers for a quality
Sandra Pianalto, president of the Cleveland
district of the Federal Reserve Bank
presentation on issues of the day. Keynote remarks were delivered by Sandra Pianalto, president of the Cleveland region of the Federal Reserve Bank.

As PNC Bank Cleveland president Paul Clark noted, our city is fortunate to be a capital city of an FRB region. It stamps us as a major league player in the same way as the Cleveland Orchestra or the Cleveland Browns.

I’m not a financial reporter so I will make no attempt to parse Pianalto’s remarks, which primarily addressed the labor market recovery and the significance of recent economic developments for the region and the nation.

I did think her appearance at this event — the Center for Community Solutions annual Human Services Institute — was noteworthy, since I don’t think her royal economic lineage affords her many opportunities to get out among the hoi polloi.[1]

Pianalto offered a sober but not hopeless picture of the US’s continuing slow recovery from the Great Recession that started December 2007. She pointed out that while the unemployment rate has declined to 7.4% from 8%, there are actually 2 million fewer people working than in in December 2007, even though the labor force has grown. She said that an unprecedented 3.1 million people had been out of work for more than a year, observing that such a prolonged period of unemployment typically contributed to declining skills.

Speaking of the Cleveland region, Pianalto said that we have 85,000 fewer workers than in 2000, that a large part of that decline was due to manufacturing job losses. She observed that manufacturing jobs were a larger share of the economy here than elsewhere and that the region’s other economic sectors had not been robust enough to offset those losses.

Pianalto’s prescription for regional growth was straightforward. Growing a talented workforce, raising the area’s education level, and focusing on innovation were essential steps she emphasized. She said that Cleveland’s recovery would require patience, commitment, and endurance. Further, she pointed out how other communities, most notably Pittsburgh, had rebounded by emphasizing regional cooperation as opposed to competition.

Finally, she said that economic inclusion was important to the success of the region. To insure such inclusion, she said, “leadership at the top has to set the tone.”

Johnathan Holifield, NorTech
Responding to Pianalto’s comments, and extending them, were a strong
Ziona Austrian
Cleveland State University
panel, comprised of Ziona Austrian, director of
Lisa Bottoms, Cleveland Foundation
the Center for Economic Development at Cleveland State University’s College of Urban Affairs; Lisa Bottoms, the Cleveland Foundation’s program director for human services and child and youth development; Paul Clark, PNC regional president; and Johnathan Holifield, the vice president of Inclusive competitiveness at NorTech.

Each of the panelists spoke with energy and passion, perhaps none more than bank president Clark. Once he referenced his Cleveland roots as a 1971 graduate of St. Edward’s. And he closed with comments that were both
Paul Clark, PNC Bank
personal and almost poetic, saying that he thought of Cleveland’s economy as a large and growing array of brush fires [small businesses, minority entrepreneurs, innovators all around] that collectively possessed the essential ingredients to lay the basis for a robust 21st century economy.

The program was held at the Benjamin Rose Institute, a stunning facility that on this day afforded an impressive view of Cleveland’s skyline about eight miles to the west. BRI sits on the site of the former Kaiser Foundation hospital, just uphill from the Baldwin Reservoir, and at the western tip of one of Cleveland proper’s neater neighborhoods.

[1] There are only twelve Federal Reserve Bank districts in the entire system. The Cleveland-based 4th district consists of Ohio, western Pennsylvania, the northern panhandle of West Virginia, and eastern Kentucky. The other districts are based in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Kelley to step down in December after 16 years as Cleveland Heights mayor

Cleveland Heights Mayor Ed Kelley announced last night at city council’s meeting that he will not run for reelection this November. Kelley has been mayor since 1997 and a member of council since 1993.

Voters in Cleveland Heights do not vote directly for mayor. Council selects the mayor from among its members.

Kelley’s announcement means that come January 1, 2014 nearly half of the seven member Council will have turned over since the last council election, a highly unusual circumstance for a body whose membership has seen little relatively change over the past decade. Bonnie Caplan announced earlier this summer that she would be retiring after twenty years on council. And Phyllis Evans resigned in June of last year in the midst of declining health. Evans died last week.

Filing Status

Six candidates have pulled petitions to date to run for Council, including Jeff Coryell, who grabbed petitions this morning following Kelley’s announcement. He joins council hopefuls Fran Mentch and Melissa Yasinow and incumbents Cheryl L. Stephens and Jason S. Stein who are known contenders for the four full term seats on the ballot in November. Janine Boyd, who was appointed to Council last October after Evans’ resignation, has pulled petitions to run for the two remaining years of Evans’ term.

The filing deadline for Cleveland Heights council candidates is September 6. Candidates must submit a minimum of 310 valid signatures of registered voters to be certified for the November ballot. All candidates run city-wide.

Reverie for a Summer Day • Langston Hughes, Eddie Harris, Richie Parker, my Glenville neighborhood

Mother to Son

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor —
But all the time
I’ve been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where they ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now —
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

  Langston Hughes

I received a video from an old friend this morning that is a tribute to the power of the human spirit. I didn’t know it at the time I started watching, but I had seen the last minute of it when it was broadcast on television.[1]  The title is misleading, but spending eight minutes of your life to watch it will captivate you as well as reveal what made me [a] retrieve and re-read this Langston Hughes poem[2], and [b] follow it by the Charles Stepney/Eddie Harris classic, “Theme in Search of a Movie”, introduced to me by my older brother Steve in Glenville days of yore.

Richie Parker:

Eddie Harris:

[2] Langston Hughes is one of my favorite poets. Part of the reason is encapsulated here, heightened by his Cleveland connections:

Langston Hughes 1902-1967
He was the first black American to earn his living solely from his writing and public lectures. Part of the reason he was able to do this was the phenomenal acceptance and love he received from average black people. … ‘Langston Hughes stands at the apex of literary relevance among Black people. …[H]e recognized that “we possess within ourselves a great reservoir of physical and spiritual strength,” and because he used his artistry to reflect this back to the people. He used his poetry and prose to illustrate that “there is no lack within the Negro people of beauty, strength and power,' and he chose to do so on their own level, on their own terms.””