We want to sincerely thank everyone who helped create this forum including teachers, students, attendees, our partners, educators, speakers, volunteers, and organizers. We could not have made this event happen without you.

Although we were unable to have this event in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to distribute the information learned during the forum to as many students as possible. In light of that mission, we were able to record the majority of the sessions held during the forum and are now able to share them publicly with everyone.

There is contact information in many of the recordings if you would like to reach out to the speaker for further educational opportunities. We can also put you in contact with them if you reach out to us. Our speakers were handpicked due to their passion and knowledge about their session topics, so we highly recommend them for future discussion about their session topic.

The recordings are organized by the four tracks that were held at the forum:

  1. Environment and Climate Change

  2. Racial and Environmental Justice

  3. Food/Agriculture and Land Use

  4. Youth Empowerment and Activism

You can watch them individually below or view them all at the Youtube playlist here

You can also view the entire schedule of the forum here.

Session Recordings

Keynote Speaker: Representative Stephanie Howse

State Representative Stephanie Howse is currently serving her third term in the Ohio House of Representatives representing House District 11, which includes the communities of Cleveland, Garfield Heights and Newburgh Heights. She serves on the Aging and Long-Term Care Committee (where she is Ranking Member), Finance, Subcommittee on Transportation and Transportation and Public Safety Committee. She earned a B.S. in Civil (Environmental) Engineering from Florida A&M University and a M.A. in Environmental Studies from Cleveland State University in 2002, while studying for her Masters and working a full time position with Stephan J. Sebesta & Associates, Inc. Representative Stephanie Howse’ service to our community is centered on the quote by Dorothy Height that says “We have to improve life, not just for those who have the most skills and those who know how to manipulate the system. But also for and with those who often have so much to give but never get the opportunity.”

Track 1: Environment and Climate Change

Watershed Stewardship in a Changing Climate

We will explore the urban water cycle challenges and stewardship opportunities in addressing stormwater increases through citizen science. We will learn about the work of over 2,200 NEO watershed stewards and how you can join them to be a force for positive change.

Lisa Meranti is the coordinator for the Watershed Volunteer Program, a program created in 2012 to involve citizen scientists in watershed education, monitoring, and restoration. The program is in partnership with Cleveland Metroparks, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, and West Creek Conservancy. Lisa's love of water influenced her to get a B.S. in Environmental Biology and Chemistry from Lebanon Valley College in PA and then M.A. in Environmental Studies from Cleveland State University.

Too Much Too Little Too Dirty- How Climate Change Expresses itself through Water

We will explore climate change and how it expresses itself through water using DLDT's real-world examples from East Africa and Cleveland. After learning in the session, we can explore ways, together, that we can encourage the dramatic steps needed to create change. The speaker is especially interested to hear from all of YOU on how DLDT and other orgs can help amplify YOUR voice to make change.

Drink Local. Drink Tap., Inc.™ is a not-for-profit organization that inspires individuals to recognize and solve our water issues through creative education, events, and providing safe water access to people in need. Drink Local Drink Tap has worked in the water, hygiene and sanitation sector for a decade in Cleveland, Ohio and Uganda.

From Fore to Forest for Fins and Feathers: Transforming Acacia Country Club

When Cleveland Metroparks received the donation of Acacia Reservation, formally a private golf course and country club, the Park District also received a mission - to restore the property to a forested public park. Learn about the steps to creating wetlands, restoring streams, establishing native meadows and welcoming the public.

Jenn Grieser is the Director of Natural Resources for Cleveland Metroparks. Prior to joining the Park District, Jenn worked for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection’s Stream Management Program upstate in the Catskills. Jenn holds a Masters in Environmental Science and Natural Resource Management from Indiana University and spends much of her “free” time carting her two boys from sport to sport.

Technical Innovation for Water Equity

This session will use Lake Erie region case studies as prompts for student discussion and problem solving. Each case study will describe a particular water resource issue and challenge students to brainstorm technical solutions for it. The presenter will underscore each conversation with information about actual technical innovations currently being pursued by scientists, companies, and community organizations.

Max Herzog is currently working on next-generation water technology and intelligent water systems with the Cleveland Water Alliance. In his three years with CWA, Max has spearheaded and contributed to regional innovation initiatives that activated over fifty entrepreneurial water solutions and one hundred stakeholder organizations from Windsor to Buffalo. As Program Manager, he coordinates the bi-national ecosystem of partners that drive the Water Alliance's cluster of programs and technologies.

Track 2: Racial and Environmental Justice

Environmentalism vs Environmental Justice: Future of the Climate Movement

We will talk about the contrasts between 'environmentalism' and environmental justice, looking at the ways environmentalism is devoid of social justice and can be problematic when framing issues. We'll talk about the evolution of environmental justice, environmental racism, and how it applies to the climate movement. Rather than seeking 'environmentalist' goals such as only reducing carbon emissions, activists should aim to advocate for climate justice, which bundles social justice with climate mitigation efforts in an acknowledgment of the ways marginalized identities intersect in environmental issues such as the Green New Deal.

Ohio Climate Youth for Climate Justice is a youth led group organizing actions to address the climate crisis with the focus and urgency that the issue deserves.

Community Solar

The Hough solar garden will be a symbol of the neighborhood’s power and progress. It will change our economic footprint and move our mostly African American neighborhood -- and the whole state of Ohio -- forward. The project includes new employment opportunities within the community, job training, and sustainable upgrades to the homes in our neighborhood. We're building a ~300 kilowatt solar array in Hough that will power about 50 homes of The BC. We've selected land, and we have a verbal commitment from a solar developer for upfront costs of ~$500,000, which we'll pay off each month through our electric bills. We'll achieve full ownership after several years. From that time on, we'll pay substantially less for electricity each month.

Cindy Mumford is a Hough Community Leader and Activist. She has worked with the east side neighborhood of Hough to build the city’s first community solar garden.

Reforesting the Forest City

We will zoom in from big to small, starting with a poll about what tree canopy is, and guesses as to what the tree canopy in Cleveland is. Then we will compare that to other regional cities (Pittsburgh, Columbus, Akron, and Chicago). Then, we will break it down by neighborhood, with another poll about where people expect to see trees in cities. From here, I will talk about the correlations of tree canopy and other things like asthma rates, urban heat island, and other measurable health impacts. Then I will ask the group how they think tree canopy is best grown before going over what the city has done to grow canopy and what neighborhood groups have done for tree canopy. We will close by breaking down a couple of ways to get involved with community forestry.

Lizzie Sords is a certified arborist and community forester who offers expert assistance to cities, community organizations and neighborhood groups. She led a volunteer community science initiative to measure, map, and identify trees for 3 seasons, and lead community tree planting and education sessions.

How We Get Free: Ecological Knowledge in our Communities

I will teach students about the histories of ethnobotanical knowledge in BIPOC communities, and engage them to learn about the history of the land and how their communities got to it, and about thinking local before thinking global.

Kenia Hale is a junior at Yale University studying Computing and the Arts (Architecture Concentration) and Ethnicity, Race, and Migration. She is interested in Technological Equity, Sustainable Urbanism, and Environmental Justice.

Track 3: Food/Agriculture and Land Use

Food Waste: The Biggest Problem We Can Solve

We all waste food but we do not have to. By taking our food system into local control we can minimize the detrimental impacts our food system has on public health, and climate while also validating a new economic model for self-sufficiency and resilience in the face of the climate crisis.

Daniel Brown is one of the co-founders of Rust Belt Riders. Our organization was founded in 2014 with the mission of feeding people, not landfills. We provide services to businesses, organizations, and individuals across Northeast Ohio to provide them with a clean, timely, and community benefiting alternative to landfills for their food waste. We actively work with over 150 businesses and nearly 1,000 residents.

Environmental Health

Originally organized as a volunteer group known as The Council on Hazardous Materials in 1980, Environmental Health Watch (EHW) is Northeast Ohio’s longest standing environmental justice organization. This group of volunteers, consisting of concerned citizens and health professionals, began developing activities to educate the public about emerging concerns related to hazardous waste, pollution, and chemical accidents and how these impact human health and the overall environment.

Kim Foreman brings nearly 20 years of experience working on environmental justice issues in Cleveland. As the Executive Director for EHW, Kim has focused on Environmental Justice Issues and adverse outcomes of environmental exposures, both indoors and outdoors, that disproportionately impact poor and minority communities.

Food Systems

We will take a look at the history and current aspects of the food system in America and other countries. We will identify cultural, sustainable and global practices that influence food systems and our health. We will talk about perceived ways to Change, Improve, and Impact our local food system to improve the health of people and the planet.

Veronica Walton has made a lifelong career in the food and health space with a variety of experiences. She works as a Green Consultant and Educator. She has managed over 215 farmers’ markets, consulted on more than 200 community and backyard gardens, designed afterschool & environmental science programs, and supported many other sustainable environmental projects/programs.

Track 4: Youth Empowerment and Activism

Career Horizons

Whitnye Long Jones is the Founder and Executive Director of Organic Connects, Inc. Organic Connects provides avenues that lead to countless areas of expertise within the environmental field, a young person in high school and even college will identify ways to simultaneously earn a living and fulfill their passion.

Advocacy 101

The Alliance for the Great Lakes and River Network will work to build community youth leaders’ capacity through brief, interactive workshops. The goal is to activate and educate your networks as part of policy campaigns and planning processes.

The popular education model we use:

- focuses on building capacity for community advocates and encourages horizontal relationships between facilitators and participants

- responds to the needs of community organizations and their constituencies

- prioritizes collaborative planning and policy development

- acknowledges that those most impacted by proposed community plans and policies are a main source of knowledge

Crystal M.C. Davis is currently with the Alliance for the Great Lakes as its Vice President of Policy & Strategic Engagement, leading the organization’s efforts related to Lake Erie, drinking water policy advocacy and relationship building across the region. In this role, Crystal has spearheaded the Alliance’s commitment to diverse engagement of Great Lakes communities and authored the organization’s seminal report Step One: Shut Up and Listen. She also developed and executed the organization’s environmental policy and strategy on Lake Erie water quality issues. Moreover, in 2016 Crystal founded the Thornton Buckeye Group, which is a government relations and public affairs firm that provides clients tactical advocacy, policy, communications and other related services. Crystal has developed local, state and national clients.