Tag Archives: Evergreen Laundry

Cleveland Wins $15M for Co-Op Revitalization Strategy

This is a very big deal. Big.

The city of Cleveland was chosen as one of five cities to share $80 million in grant funding through the Livable Cities Initiative.

Funders were impressed, specifically, by the city’s efforts to establish cooperative workplaces to serve as suppliers to some of the region’s major employers–including the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospital.

We’ve written before about the Evergreen laundry, where workers from the impoverished Hough neighborhood are earning a stake in the company while putting in hours doing laundry for local institutions. That organization was seeded by the Cleveland Foundation as part of an innovative employee-owned business structure that has come to be known as ‘the Cleveland Model.”

Works at the Evergreen cooperative laundry earn a share of the company for their hard work.

The Cleveland Foundation has been looking to expand cooperative ventures in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods–most of which also happen to be near an important employment node–University Circle.

Their latest venture is a massive, 10-acre indoor lettuce farm. Between that, the laundry and a solar power operation, they hope to someday employ hundreds or even thousands.

The grant award goes a long way to justify Cleveland’s nonprofit urban revitalization capacity, which is driven by the local philanthropic organizations and is considered one of the country’s most sophisticated.

Detroit; Baltimore; Newark, N.J.; and Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn. were also selected for funding by the cooperative of 22 major philanthropic organizations.


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Filed under Economic Development, Great Lakes, Green Jobs, Headline, Labor

A Summer of Rust Belt Road Trips…

Rust Wire editor’s note: The following was written by contributor Daniel Denvir, a freelance journalist based in Philadelphia.

I took off on a road trip across the Rust Belt this summer both because I saw it as a potential for some good stories (which you can find here) and because it seemed like a great opportunity to visit a part of the country that I knew solely through reading and conversation. I also veered a bit out of the Rust Belt’s traditional boundaries to do a story for NPR’s Latino USA (scroll down and then listen here) on immigrant urban farmers in Cincinnati.

And it turns out I wasn’t the only person with such ideas. One group of planning students from Department of Urban Planning at the University of Illinois made a similar trip, calling it “Rust Belt Road Trip.” Another group did the same thing as well. It has to be more than the catchy alliteration–there must be something in the air.

Certainly some of this energy derives from something a bit less honorable, having more to do with a bizarre impulse for post-industrial rubbernecking, a fascination with modern ruins. An article in Vice subtitled “Lazy Journalists Love Pictures of Abandoned Stuff” poignantly describes some of the problems with focusing on urban collapse porn without providing the necessary context.

But we are not just drawn towards looking at these places for bad reasons. They are more than post-industrial pornography. As Rebecca Solnit wrote in Harper’s, they make us rethink the broader assumptions of industrial progress. If American Capitalism couldn’t save the great city of Detroit, that beacon of modern industry and autonomous transportation, what makes the rest of us feel so secure? Certainly with the Great Recession, we don’t need the Rust Belt to remind us of the general precariousness of things.

So I took this trip thinking of the Rust Belt as a potential beacon–having entered crisis first, they have, in an optimistic way of framing things, had longer to think about what solutions might follow. And the solutions in Detroit, Youngstown and Cleveland should not be overstated–these cities still have such deep economic woes and too much suffering for anyone to call it a day after christening a new enterprise or community farm.

Amidst the familiar scenes of economic abandonment, exciting ideas abound. In Youngstown, I looked at the Youngstown 2010 plan, an innovative program to sustainably shrink the former steel giant. I toured Cleveland’s Evergreen Laundry, a worker-owned cooperative that aims to capture procurement spending from the troubled city’s still-huge anchor institutions: hospitals and universities. And in Detroit, I looked at the positive role that could be played by a combined approach emphasizing both green industry and urban agriculture. The former, unfortunately, lacks the much-needed political will to get off the ground. The latter, however, is booming.

Cleveland's Evergreen Laundry

Cleveland's Evergreen Laundry

The news format of these articles did not allow me space to describe a lot of what I liked so much about these cities. My time in Cleveland was too short, so I can’t say I really got to know it. But my visits to Detroit and Youngstown sparked some real affection for these struggling locales–along with their bars and delis. In Youngstown, this was all due to the unparalleled hospitality offered by Defend Youngstown impresario and Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative organizer  Phil Kidd–really enough reason in and of itself for my sure to be soon return visit. And the next time I do this trip, I’ll have to do a series on Rust Belt bars. Because on a personal note, they were amazing. And microbrews like Youngstown’s Rust Belt Brewing Company certainly qualify as a creative and delicious alternative.

-Daniel Denvir


Filed under Economic Development, Featured, Good Ideas, Green Jobs, Labor, regionalism, Rust Belt Blogs, The Big Urban Photography Project, The Media, Urban Planning

Dan’s Rust Belt Road Trip

Freelance reporter Daniel Denvir has taken some interesting travels recently – places like Cleveland – on his “Rust Beltroad trip.”

Here, he highlights an employee-owned company in Cleveland.

I had never heard of Evergreen Laundry, the company he profiles, but it sounds like they are doing a good job of putting people to work.

I like posting stories like this – ones about our cities as innovators, not just victims of de-industrialization and decline.

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