Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Development of a Green Belt in the Youngstown Metro Area

Welcome to my new blog. I'm excited and a bit nervous. My goal in writing is to create a space for "dialogue with respect" as Paulo Freire has said. I mention the educational theorist here because his ideas have influenced my thinking about liberation and education. As a lawyer, I believe that liberty must be protected at all costs, and the way that is accomplished is through education. It is through dialogue that we often learn most effectively. Freire believed that dialogue wasn't just about deepening understanding, but that it was a part of making a difference in the world. He was concerned with praxis (action that is informed). Dialogue is a cooperative activity, it builds community, social capital ,and leads us to action for justice and equality. Please join me in a dialogue about the creation of community, and social capital in the city of Youngstown.

I would like to begin by talking about activism and how excitement is contagious. I have only met Jim Cossler, Youngstown's chief evangelist once or twice. The first time was at a brainstorming session at the Youngstown Incubator. It was a vitalizing experience. I was struck by his insistence that we need to dream large. The meme is catching on here in Youngstown. Things are beginning to happen at an exponential rate. As the meme spreads what I find happening is that people are smiling again, there is hope, and people want to be involved. Not only does activism bring about positive change, it is fun!

Treez Please is a recent example of activism and fun in Youngstown. This past summer several of us got together over drinks to talk about planting trees. That idea has transformed into the creation of a non-profit group that is growing quickly and more importantly bringing ideas to fruition. So far we have designed and implemented a project now called "Common Ground" which is at the corner of Broadway and Kensington, and we have celebrated that accomplishment with a community event. Please see our website for information and a link to Jaci Clark's blog to see fabulous photos of the celebration.

The idea of planting trees has given birth to numerous other ideas and projects and the dream is getting larger. Recently I had a conversation Phil Kidd, and he spoke with me about his idea for revitalizing Wick Park. He outlined his vision of Wick Park as a jewel of the city. We also spoke about how this project can serve as a model for city wide collaboration. Today, the story is in the Vindcator

Today however, I want to focus on another idea that is becoming an obsession with me, and one that I would very much like to see come to fruition. Many things trigger my obsession with this idea but what triggered it today was was reading the November 7, 2007 entry on the blog "I will Shout Youngstown". The article prompted me to share my thoughts about the creation of a green belt to be developed simultaneously with our new and burgeoning tech belt. For some interesting thoughts about the development of a regional tech belt see

Some time ago I became a Majora Carter groupie. I came across her story when I was researching a project on environmentalism and found a link to the Ted Awards. I was soon enthralled in the Ted Award concept and found a video of Majora Carter accepting the award. Her dream is to green the ghetto in the South Bronx. Although may of her ideas are specifically for a much larger urban area than Youngstown, I do believe that her proposal for an Eco Industrial Park could be modified for the Youngstown area. For a complete reading of her proposal see: A few of her ideas for an Eco-Industrial Park are below. In Youngstown an Eco-Industrial Park such as this could be the cornerstone of the development of "The Green Belt", and would provide much needed employment in green collar jobs. I would be interested in thoughts from others in the area about the concept and how it might be modified for this area.

Facilities at the eco-industrial park would include:
# a construction and demolition (C&D) debris recycling facility
# a plastics product manufacturer which would produce railroad ties using mixed plastic waste materials from post-industrial and post-consumer sources, provide the city’s recycling processors with a convenient market for mixed plastics in the city’s current recycling stream,
# a paper converting operation which would convert one-ton “parent rolls” of 100% recycled-content paper into individually-wrapped, consumer-sized rolls and packages of tissues and towel products for sale under possible supply contracts with the federal government and major commercial and institutional buyers
# a wood salvage and re-milling operation which would sort heavy and antique timber, beams, joists,shoring lumber and plywood salvaged from demolished buildings and construction sites by dimensions and species, would wholesale about half to lumber mills and timber framing companies, would retail about one quarter to highway construction, bridge refurbishing, and other contractors, would re-mill the rest into dimensional lumber and blanks for architectural and fine carpentry applications.
# a glass powder manufacturing facility which would process tons of mixed glass cullet and
container glass from the city’s recycling program into a valuable “green” building material, namely a clean, dry “glass powder” that can replace up to 40% of the Portland cement used in making concrete masonry blocks and ready-mix concrete.
# a small non-profit facility with educational exhibition space about recycling, re-use, and re-manufacturing and incubator space for craftspeople designing artworks or products made from recycled materials, a small cafe and the possible inclusion of a child-care facility for children of the employees.


susie said...

Very Cool Debbie!
Thank you..
I admire Friere's book also - a YSU graduate course reading and one I have revisited when I needed to think "transformational activism" through education... Peace friend...

Lou said...

Hey! Great Article. Keep Up the good work and welcome to the neighborhood! said...

add large scale composting for other organizations on the list as YSU already does this-such as GM, hospital, other schools. NEON has challenged its employees to assist in becoming a green orgnaization with healthy practices in its material usages etc

Irishbobcat said...

Amen Deb:

We need to build alternative energy
manufacturing and solar farms for the Youngstown area. YSU could become a leader in research and technology for this. Instead of Senator Brown coming to Youngstown and talk about helping older residents pay for high winter heating bills...we could be developing alternative energy sources so older residents would not have to worry about high energy costs.