As early June nights go, this one might be tough to beat: a first look at Edgewater Park’s new two-story beach house, something refreshing while watching the sunset and a late dinner on Graffiti Social Kitchen’s patio hideaway. It was a #ThisisCLE trifecta.
As we left Edgewater, we parked the car for some snapshots of the Cleveland script sign against the downtown skyline twinkling in purples, reds and blues. Unlike the forced “Believe in Cleveland” slogans of the past bedazzled with affirmation and dripping with inadequacy, Destination Cleveland’s crisp white totems serve as symbols of our new civic identity. They show off the city and invite you to be an engaged part of the picture.
Simple as it might be, that’s a Lake Erie-sized shift in our civic psyche from a time not that long ago when two-thirds of Clevelanders couldn’t even recommend the town to friends or family.
Since Cleveland Magazine’s start in 1972, it has sought out the best the city has to offer while never shying away from its divisions and blemishes. So while we mark the magazine’s 45th anniversary with an NBA championship, national political convention and remade Public Square among Cleveland’s recent accomplishments, it also feels like a fitting time to re-examine who we are as a city, where we are headed and how our identity has changed — even in just the past five years.
This spring, we conducted an online survey that asked almost 500 Clevelanders about the most positive development from the past 12 months (47 percent said the Cleveland Cavaliers championship), our most important future industry (59 percent said health care), the biggest local concern during the past 12 months (38 percent said opioid addiction) and more. The responses help form the basis of our “Who Are We Now?” feature.
We also gather lessons from the biggest moments from 2016 and gauge how we’re living up to our 1972 legacies in rock ‘n’ roll, environmentalism and the arts. We hear from five Clevelanders helping to shape our future — from entrepreneur Charu Ramanathan, who’s experienced the ups and downs of launching a biotech startup, to organizer Fred Ward, who’s working to empower Cleveland’s underserved communities. And we put forth an agenda that includes growing our population, creating a neighborhood along the lakefront and rethinking our approach to policing.
As I’m writing this column, the Cavs once again trail 3-1 in the NBA Finals. Whether #Cavsin7 becomes a reality, we’ll know soon enough. But if last year taught us anything about who we are, the championship city we desire is already in our genetic makeup.