Monday, August 17, 2009

Sustainable Cleveland 2019

Last Friday was the close of a much talked about 3-day event, the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 summit! About 750 participants and 90 tables peppered the floor of Public Hall at the Cleveland Convention Center with the goal of creatively uncovering how to move Northeast Ohio's economy toward sustainable practices. It was a creative event above all, in the format of an Appreciate Inquiry lead by moderator, David Cooperrider, a professor at the Weatherhead School of Business at Case Western Reserve University. The rules called for in-depth brainstorming, the encouragement of wild ideas and collaboration amongst the teams that are applied to a radical process.

One brainstorming exercise (photo above) is an individual from Zircoa, Inc. of Solon, Ohio, who shows his module made out of pipe cleaners on how local businesses can network to attain sustainability in a community. "If a community can network together, no one needs to be an expert of all things." Other examples included roughly 25 teams that stormed the stage, American Idol style, to present their BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). One group formed an octet to sing about the death of Oscar the Grouch and happy Cleveland just a decade away. The singers broke into a refrain from "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang, a wild rendition that brought applause. Another group, using rudimentary art materials provided by summit organizers, jumped onto the stage paddling a huge paper boat named, "The Best Time 2019."

Cooperrider, who has held more than 500 Appreciative Inquiry summits in 70 countries, said the focus is on how to spread the word to the 1.6 million across Northeast Ohio will be the challenge in the coming months.

Source:, 2009

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