This series follows the day-to-day lives of the Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellows who are part of a premier fellowship in public interest design which places designers in community development organizations for three-year positions. Today’s post comes from Erick Rodriguez an architect and designer based at Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO) and Burten, Bell, Carr Development (BBC) who is developing an eco-district framework for both city leaders and community members in the city of Cleveland.
Getting up early can be a struggle, but it’s worth losing a little sleep when the weather is a cool 60 degrees and I get to be in Edgewater Park, one of my favorite spots in Cleveland. It has been a few weeks since my last run, hence the expression on my face.
After stopping at the office to prepare, I attend the East Region Design Review Committee meeting to observe and offer feedback on projects. Demolition requests are most common to the committee, as it serves one of the most distressed areas in Cleveland, but today the committee is reviewing a proposal for a new location for Campbell’s Sweets, a gourmet popcorn maker. As a fellow, it is exciting to see community development organizations’ efforts in housing, education and resident engagement build the momentum needed to restore investor confidence along a commercial corridor.
I head back to my desk to finish up the schematic design for the BoxSpot project, a project I am working on that is part of a new venture between BBC and the Evergreen Cooperatives, a local organization that catalyzes new employee-owned businesses. We are developing a small business incubator in the Kinsman neighborhood using recycled shipping containers and are almost ready to transition into construction documents.
After a delicious lunch at Sokolowski’s University Inn (polish comfort food,) I make it just in time for the core team meeting of the Climate Resilience & Urban Opportunity Initiative — a cross-sector collaborative to address the impacts of climate change in low-income neighborhoods through grassroots leadership. Today we discuss how to measure the impact of these resident-led activities.
One of the new skills I picked up in the fellowship is the ability to understand the basic concepts of landscape design. Today, I work on planting design for our tiny house project, a pilot project of small homes for sustainability and affordability run by my other host organization, DSCDO. I then stop over to check in on the construction site — we are racing towards the finish line with the ribbon cutting only a week away!
After eating dinner, I head over to a community event — something I do every other week in the spring and summer. I meet with residents participating the Climate Ambassador Program, which is a component of the Climate Resilience & Urban Opportunity Initiative. The group is taking their first Roots of Success training which develops community understanding of the environment and also covers innovative cooperative business models in the environmental sector. The program builds leadership skills and encourages resident-led solutions to protect the community from extreme weather events.
After leaving the office, I head over to my garden plot at the Ithaca Community Garden. This is my first year gardening — something I’ve been wanting to do since I moved to Cleveland. I discovered my radishes had bolted (a gardening term for saying a plant is getting ready to flower.) Apparently, I planted them too late in the spring. The cucumbers seem to be coming in okay, but the biggest win was being able to harvest some cilantro and oregano. It’s been a busy day but I feel lucky to not only be able to use my design skills on community projects that matter, but to get to spend time with community members, and even, on occasion, to get my hands dirty — whether it’s on a construction site or in my new garden. As the light wanes, it’s back home to watch some Copa America and then off to sleep so I can start again tomorrow.
To learn more about the Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellowship and apply for the upcoming cohort by July 10, visit here.