On Friday, you could sit down to watch the presidential inauguration, which begins at 11 a.m. EST sharp. Or, if you live in Cleveland, you could go to City Hall to celebrate the kick-off of a program called the “Year of Vibrant Green Space,” and engage in conversations about urban farming and creating and maintaining sustainable infrastructure. That also begins at 11 a.m. sharp.
Coincidence? No one will say for sure. The city’s press release certainly doesn’t make the overlap explicit (it was released Thursday). Sustainable Cleveland’s release features pretty pictures of people planting things and harvesting rainwater, but not a word about the timing either. Cleveland.com even made a call to investigate, but no one was available for immediate comment. The city’s certainly no stranger to national politics after hosting the Republican convention in July, when President-elect Donald Trump was officially named his party’s nominee.
But, as Cleveland.com points out, “some historians consider Cleveland the Selma of the environmental movement.” Publicity from the infamous Cuyahoga River fire of 1969 ignited support for the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 and the federal Clean Air and Clean Water acts. And there’s some pesky little details about the incoming administration’s EPA pick, Scott Pruitt — namely that he’s repeatedly sued the administration he’s supposed to lead and has expressed doubts about established (and proven) climate science.
Who knows? The only quote on display in the city’s release comes from Mayor Frank G. Jackson, whose administration has championed a number of ambitious green space makeovers, like Public Square.
“The theme for this year’s Sustainable Cleveland is the Year of Vibrant Green Spaces,” he said. “The lineup for the kick-off event will help set the conditions for its success.”
Maybe a giant outdoor screen will broadcast the inauguration to people talking organic carrots and public parks. But — and this is just a hunch — probably not.
Rachel Dovey is an award-winning freelance writer and former USC Annenberg fellow living at the northern tip of California’s Bay Area. She writes about infrastructure, water and climate change and has been published by Bust, Wired, Paste, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and the North Bay Bohemian.