Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Grey to Green Festival :Youngstown, Ohio

As people all over the world become deeply concerned about the future of the Earth’s environment, millions are turning their energies toward education and citizen activism. No less so in Youngstown Ohio. Youngstown is launching its first Grey to Green festival on Saturday September 13, 2008 in Wick Park on Youngstown’s North Side.

The goal of the Grey to Green festival is to increase awareness of environmental issues in general, the grey to green concept in the Youngstown 2010 Plan, and the Wick Park Revitalization effort that is currently underway.

On September 13, Wick Park will be transformed into a “green world” that will include environmentally oriented businesses, community organizations, and local and regional agencies. Throughout the park, there will be workshops, displays, demonstrations, entertainment, food, and “green” merchandise vendors. The Festival itself will be put together with an emphasis on sustainable practices – minimal energy and resource consumption, maximum recycling and waste reduction.

The grey to green concept figures prominently in Youngstown’s 2010 Plan. For a while, Youngstown, with its population at just over 80,000 hoped to return to its boomtown roots when it was home to 165,000 citizens and a powerful steel industry. But with the new 2010 Plan, the city is one of the first to embrace shrinkage and the development of green space. Youngstown serves as a model for other rust-belt cities that must recreate and reinvent themselves after years of decline.

The city in a radical move began bulldozing abandoned buildings, tearing up blighted streets and converting entire blocks into open green spaces several years ago. With help from community groups dedicated to reforestation and urban gardening, the abandoned neighborhoods are being returned to a more-natural state, ultimately permitting the city to cut services to less-populated areas and instead concentrate on development where people want to move. Anthony Kobak, Youngstown’s Chief City Planner, says that the goals of the 2010 plan are “to create a safe, clean, enjoyable, sustainable, attractive city.”

In keeping with these goals, CityScape and Defend Youngstown, along with a steering committee consisting of elected officials, city staff, and representatives from various local organizations began an initiative to improve the large and strategically located Wick Park. They brought in the Urban Design Center of Northeast Ohio to provide advice and support to the design process. In a city that is known for its high level of community involvement, the Wick Park design process provides a unique opportunity for the community to re-imagine a public space that supports the city’s goal of becoming a smaller, greener city.

The Grey to Green Festival organizing coalition came together with the shared belief and a shared vision that the collaboration of citizens, agencies, organizations and government can mobilize communities to address important issues and solve problems in new ways by moving from problem-driven solutions to vision-driven solutions.

The organizing coalition includes the Green Team, Youngstown Litter control, Defend Youngstown, CityScape, ReCreate,Treez Please, Grow Youngstown, First Book Mahoning Valley, The Oakland Center for the Arts, Green Energy TV, Art Youngstown, The Wick Park Revitalization Committee, The City of Youngstown’s Planning Department, Youngstown State University’s Environmental Studies Society, faculty and staff from YSU, as well as concerned citizens, block watches and youth groups.

To participate as either a sponsor of the event or as an exhibitor or vendor please contact Debra Weaver (330) 744-1748 or e-mail her at debraweaver2000@hotmail.com.

Mark your calendars now because this event is not one to be missed! Also, please help us spread the word about the event.


Christopher Barzak said...

You know, there are so many good projects going on in this city, I wonder if there would be some way for local schools to get involved with students in some of these projects, to get the students experience in taking part in owning and taking care of their community and environment. Or has this already been considered and judged not do-able? I think it would be great. I think even schools from the suburbs might have teachers who would be interested in getting their students involved somehow maybe.

EA Glasgow said...

Is there a schedule of events posted anywhere online? I've also heard about the possibility of a "stuff" trade happening at this event. Can anyone comment? Thanks.