“I hope people see this as the beginning of the momentum,” said Annamarie Morino, a second-year MBA student at the Weatherhead School of Management, of CLE Rising, an organization she has been working to support. CLE Rising is a movement to have a diverse group of people set measurable goals for Clevland’s economic future.
CLE Rising will be hosting a summit Oct. 29-31 at the Public Auditorium and Conference Center in downtown Cleveland for 1,000 community participants to hear the voices of the community. This summit will use the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) process to identify and solve issues relevant to the entire Cleveland community.
AI is a process that was developed at Case Western Reserve University in the 1980s by Dr. David Cooperrider and Dr. Ronald Fry. This process attempts to improve an organization by focusing on its strengths and building from there. It has been used by large corporations such as Apple, and government agencies such as the United States Navy. For the first time, this problem-solving process is being used on a city.
This process challenges participants to think about the positive aspects of Cleveland and what the city is doing well. Everyone starts with answering a simple question, “What is your favorite memory in Cleveland?” From there, the responses are used to guide the discussion.
It is easy to slip into a negative mindset, but, as Morino points out, “There are always going to be a lot of problems, there are always going to be a lot of struggles, and we focused on them for a very long time, and we are still not where we want to be.” The AI method of problem-solving hopes to steer people in a different, new direction by starting with the positive aspects of the community.
Cleveland wants its students to be part of this effort to shape the city’s future. In order to do this, CLE Rising is holding pre-sessions across the Cleveland area. These sessions are called Share Your Voice, and the feedback gathered from them will be used directly in the summit. Students do not need to attend the summit to be part of Share Your Voice.
One of these sessions will be held here at CWRU on Sept. 25 from 4-5:30 p.m. in the Wade Commons Red Cat room. This session will be for students of any age in any department, from undergraduates to graduates to post-doctorates, but is not open to faculty.
Share Your Voice will center around the same one question, “What is your favorite memory in Cleveland?” Working in self-selected small groups, with pizza and post-it notes, students will identify commonalities in their answers, and reflect on how this relates to their dreams for the city. Students from all areas of the country and globe are encouraged to attend to share their perspectives and memories of the city. Every person in the city, resident or not, is an important piece of the puzzle.
If students cannot attend the summit or the Share Your Voice session, they can still make their voice heard. They can answer the provided question on the CLE Rising Summit website or request a paper form. As Morino says, “Not only will you make your mark on Cleveland, but you’ll see how much Cleveland really needs you.”