One of America's most blighted cities, hard hit by rustification and foreclosure, is also home to one of its loveliest urban initiatives, a plan to create acres of tree nurseries, oases of native plants, and community gardens with bees and chickens. Devised at Kent State University's Urban Design Collaborative, the strategy is part of Reimagining a More Sustainable Cleveland Initiative, funded by the city and the Surdna Foundation. It's meant to boost property values and community spirit in neighborhoods plagued by vacant lots and condemned buildings. A proposed "Mow-to-Own" program will encourage neighbors to maintain nearby lots, while a variety of land-reuse projects point to a greener future — a solar array in a previously empty 3-acre lot, for example, will provide enough power for 200 homes.
A version of this article appeared in the May 2009 issue of Fast Company magazine.