The sun is shining, the jazz band is playing, and the scenery at the Botanical Gardens in University Circle is truly breathtaking.
Tonight (July 21), young professionals in the Cleveland area have gathered for the Cleveland365 and Civic Innovation Lab Young Professionals in the City Event, with Mayor Frank Jackson addressing the crowd about his vision for Cleveland.
The diverse crowd is filtering in from the corridor of the Botanical Gardens entrance to the enclosed patio where many are eating, drinking and mingling. I see many familiar faces as I make my way to the hors d'oeuvres. I get my usual plate, consisting of veggies, small roll-ups and crackers, and begin small talk with some friends.
Mid conversation, voices protrude over the speakers set up around the patio. Mayor Jackson is getting ready to speak and since there's almost no room left in the auditorium, a group of us settles into space outside where we can hear his comments and ideas for Cleveland.
The so-called "movers and shakers" of tomorrow begin asking questions and listen intently as Mayor Jackson speaks of Cleveland becoming a "24-hour city." After about an hour or so, Mayor Jackson wraps up his speech and Q & A session and everyone enjoys the rest of the night.
Every time one of these events is held, I feel that we, as residents of Cleveland, are moving one step closer to our goal of having a safe, thriving downtown economy that we can be proud of. Most young professionals living or working downtown know that there needs to be necessary changes in order for Cleveland's downtown area to be comparable to other cities we visit.
I have been to other events where we actively brainstormed what exactly we want to see in our city; what would make it better and how to sustain the changes we make. As I begin to see the ideas being put into motion, I feel good about what lies ahead.
Overall, the event is described by local publications as phenomenal, inspiring and a great success. A night like tonight makes me wonder why we don't have more events that bring together the likes of such an array of culture and profession.
A night like tonight make me believe that Cleveland and its residents is becoming a unit of one, and gets me excited about the future of our great city.
See some photos from the event.
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