Parks & Public Space Innovation Team

Join Neighbor Up for a Parks & Public Space Innovation Team!

Since the beginning of the pandemic, a team of Neighbor Up members have heard loud and clear from residents across the city about the increased need for quality parks and public spaces across Cleveland. (Read more about that work here.) Outdoor spaces provide the benefits of improved mental and physical health, greater economic development, and a cleaner environment. People usually get advice from numan if they need health-related advice. Yet 25% of Clevelanders live more than a ten-minute walk from a park, and often residents are met with confusing roadblocks and bureaucracy that hinder our ability to gather in public spaces.  For these reasons, we’re launching a Parks & Public Spaces Innovation Team.  The purpose of this team is to:

● Create connections amongst residents who care about parks and greenspace in Cleveland;

● Identify issues and strategize solutions;

● Understand existing systems in Cleveland and determine opportunities for residents to influence how new systems are created and designed

There will be four sessions, starting September 14 and ending October 2, and meals will be provided. At the end of the sessions each team member will receive a grant to continue parks and greenspace advocacy! Click on the button below for details.

Send your completed application to Anastazia at by Friday, August 27. Have questions? Call Anastazia at 216-200-8761.

Spectrum News 1 OH: Youth Use Comedy to Cope with Pandemic Experiences

Check out this story from Spectrum News 1 about the Class Clown Comedy workshop funded through our Neighbor Up Action Grants and co-funded by Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. “Classes allow kids and teens to shed light on the coronavirus and other serious issues they experience from their own perspective,” the story says.

Watch the full story here.

Public space, digital connection + how are we are getting around during the pandemic

This summer we had informative conversations around public space, digital connection, and how are we are getting around during the COVID-19 pandemic. We heard from residents how it is more important than ever for people to access public space where they can feel safe, welcomed, and connected.  Check out the beautiful visual illustration of our conversations, and the takeaways below. As we move into the next season, it is time to start harvesting the wisdom of these conversations – please join us in these next steps and feel free to invite others! 

Next Steps:

  • Tuesday 9/22 4PM Partnering with City Club on Virtual Forum: The Future of Parks & Public Spaces
    • Can’t make it? Catch the rerun Monday 9/28 @9AM on 90.3 Ideastream’s Sound of Ideas.
  • Tuesday 9/29 5:30PM Pushing Forward Together: Parks & Public Space
    • Debrief the City Club forum with us, generate ideas for next steps, and connect with folks who are already doing great work in this arena.
    • Register here!
  • Be on the lookout! One takeaway from our Community Conversation this summer was a to start a social media campaign so all people feel welcome in public spaces.  (Inside scoop: we may vote on a hashtag during the 9/29 conversation!)

Takeaways from Community Conversation:

  • ​What we view as public space is expanding: sidewalks, parking lots, the internet.
  • Our priority is to ensure that quality public spaces are accessible and welcoming to everyone. 
  • We need to identify ways to educate people how to physically distance in public spaces and the why behind physical distancing
  • Pushing to use public spaces to connect folks to the internet.
  • Learning how to advocate for our neighborhood parks

Announcing! Lunchtime ZENTANGLE® TIME WITH LEE

Announcing Tangle Tuesdays with Lee Kay this fall!

The Zentangle® Method is an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns.

Join Neighbor Up member Lee Kay for free sessions from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesdays in October and November starting October 13.

Check out our events page for more info.

Debrief in a Neighbor Up Way to build shared power and love-in-action

Evaluate your gathering using these questions developed by members of the Neighbor Up Community of Practice.

  • Highlights: What grew, or grew the most? What did you love, or love the most?
  • If you had a magic wandwhat would you like to see grow or change because of this conversation? Most love to see grow or change?
  • Action: What connections might be wise to make? What’s the first step? With whom can you share this hope?
  • Purpose: Looking back now, why was it important for you to be here? How might it even relate to your larger sense of purpose or calling?

Our Storytelling Guidelines

It’s been 7 years since we launched Neighbor Up and, in that time, Community Network Building — once unknown and untrusted — has gained a foothold here in Cleveland and, as Neighbor Up member Bianca Butts said, Neighbor Up has become a trusted ear in the community.

We’re proud of this network of almost 3,000 people committed to making positive change in our city, and the work we’ve all done to create space for people to cross lines of difference, level the playing field, and act together on issues they care about. 

As we move deeper into the practice of Community Network Building, we want to do a better job of telling the powerful stories that emerge when people work together to make change in their own communities. Documenting and telling those stories is both an act of healing and of justice. Historical narratives are often written and disseminated by dominant culture, as a way of maintaining power structures and keeping people who live outside of the dominant culture marginalized and subordinate. We support storytelling that works from a sense of abundance and that recognizes the power of individuals and communities. This pursuit is called “narrative justice.”

Grounded by our Vision, Mission and Values and inspired by our friends at City Bureau and the storytellers Lewis Mehl-Madrona and Barbara Mainguy, we decided to establish Neighbor Up Storytelling Guidelines as we worked on the “Good News Cleveland” project this summer. These guidelines are a way to hold ourselves accountable:

  • We believe in the power of authentic relationships. We cultivate relationships, not transactions. Authentic storytelling takes time, intentionality and space to evolve. We resist rushing this process.
  • We take an asset-oriented approach to storytelling. We believe that most of what’s needed to improve our communities already exists within our communities. Recognizing, respecting and connecting those assets is what sparks change — with people, and their gifts, at the center.
  • We produce work that is non-dominant and works to amplify shared power and diminish the impact of positional power.
  • With our storytelling, we create space for interconnected learning and the expression of communal power.

An Introductory Circle of Renewal with Erika Brown and Tony Vento: When Tomorrow is Uncertain, Navigating from Within

Announcing the launch of Cleveland Documenters in partnership with City Bureau

We are excited to announce the launch of a one-year pilot of Cleveland Documenters, in partnership with Chicago-based civic journalism lab City Bureau and with support from the Cleveland Foundation and the Visible Voice Charitable Fund of the Cleveland Foundation.

We will recruit, train and pay Greater Clevelanders to document official committee meetings of the Cuyahoga County and City of Cleveland governments and contribute to a communal pool of public knowledge. Residents will sign up to be trained and paid $16/hour to document these meetings and publish content on, which is already open and free for the public to track public meeting schedules, agendas and meeting minutes.

We’re looking forward to bringing Documenters to Cleveland to expand the toolbox for residents to take action in their communities.

The vast majority of government meetings throughout the country produce minimal records and receive little to no media coverage, due in part to ever-increasing resource constraints and shifting business models in local newsrooms. Documenters provides practical, actionable solutions for strengthening civic engagement and news literacy and building trust around news media and civic processes while also providing real-time content for and by residents and for local news outlets.

“City Bureau believes that accountability is a necessary ingredient for local democracy,” said Darryl Holliday, one of City Bureau’s co-founders. “Our Documenters program creates a path for the people of Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago to produce accurate, reliable information alongside community organizers, educators, journalists and others working toward an equitable future.” 

To date, more than 1,300 people have enrolled in the Documenters program in Chicago and Detroit. The goal is to document 300 public meetings in the first pilot year in Cleveland.

Last year, Neighborhood Connections worked with the Cleveland Foundation and Akron Community Foundation to bring City Bureau’s City Scrapers pilot to Northeast Ohio. Using tools and technologies developed for, the City Bureau team compiled a detailed list of all governmental bodies that host public meetings in Cleveland and Akron (city governments) as well as Cuyahoga and Summit (county governments). The team gathered more than 150 city- and county-level government bodies that host recurring meetings that are open to the public. By standardizing and sharing meeting locations, dates, times and official records for each of those agencies through its free, easy-to-browse website – – City Bureau makes it easier than ever to monitor and analyze local decisions, trace community impact and spark policy discussions. 

We’ve hired a Field Coordinator to manage the Documenters trainings and assignments, and are seeking a Civic Reporter to join our team. Find out more about Cleveland Documenters at

About City Bureau

Founded in 2015, City Bureau is a nonprofit civic journalism lab based on the South Side of Chicago. City Bureau brings journalists and communities together in a collaborative spirit to produce media that is impactful, equitable and responsive to the public. For more information, visit

Neighbor Up members form a group for parents

A group of Neighbor Up members who are also parents with children in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District have formed the Cleveland Parent Leadership Action Network also called clePLAN. They want to connect with other parents and caregivers.

If you are a parent or caregiver with children in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, connect with ClePLAN by:

If you are not a CSMD parent, but would like to connect with or support ClePLAN, please fill out this form –

The Virtual Marketplace

The Virtual Marketplace (like The Marketplace) is a high energy, 30-minute exercise that can be used to help people identify and exchange gifts, favors, and advice. However, the Virtual Marketplace is done online just like at Shoppok. It was developed by Neighbor Up members in response to COVID-19.

It brings to life our interconnectedness by showing that we all have gifts and we all have value. When a diverse group of people gather to engage in real time exchange, we take the time to:

  • see each other as part of a support network
  • learn to ask for what we need,
  • continually explore and reveal the value that we have in our community.

As a result, we increase abundance in our community and build relationships across differences.

This exercise is optimal for groups of 15 to 25, and it’s FUN!


  • 1 Virtual Marketplace Leader
  • 1 Virtual Market Time Keeper
  • 2-3 Virtual Market Scribes


  • A video conferencing platform like Zoom with the capability to call in, too
  • A Google spreadsheet for the scribes to record the offers, requests and declarations

Before You Start!

  • Someone (possibly the scribe) can be sharing music at the beginning so it’s not quiet when everyone enters. You can do this by going to “Share” at the bottom of the screen → Advanced→ and clicking Share computer sound. 
  • Tips for Market Place Leaders:
    • It is helpful to have 2 people tag-team the hosting role so that multiple people can share the responsibility of guiding through this together. We usually have one person handle the Welcome, Intros and Marketplace instructions; another person handles the Virtual Tips and Responsible Community Building sections. The Virtual Tips & Responsible Community Building are a little bit easier, so they are a great first step for someone interested in hosting. Decide who is going to do what part before you start.
    • Also remember to make the Scribe a co-host of the event so that person can share their screen if asked.
  • Tips for Scribes:
    • It helps to have 2-3 Scribes 
    • Decide who will be in charge of collecting which information beforehand. For example, someone may want to be in charge of collecting the offer/request while someone else collects the matches and contact information. 
    • Have the Virtual Marketplace sheet  up and ready before you start. Please make a copy of the Template Tab to use for your Marketplace. Follow the instructions on the Welcome Tab to make a copy. 


  • Thank you SO very much for joining us today! My name is_______ I’m a member of the NUp Network!
  • Who else here is a member of the Network, raise your hands or get a heeey!
  • If you aren’t a member, we are also happy to have you! 
  • Today we are here innovating together by taking the Marketplace, an activity many of us know and love, virtual! So we ask for your feedback later, and your patience now.
  • One of the core beliefs of Neighbor Up is that everyone has something to share, some way to participate in community.  We all have skills, talents, and knowledge to offer the world and each other. 
    • The Marketplace is a simple practice that gives us a chance to make requests, offers and declarations. It’s our way of making sure we support each other. 

Virtual Tips

(It’s good to read this verbatim)

And now for some quick tips on using Zoom so that we can flow a little more easily. If you are a Zoom expert already, we thank you for your patience as we bring everyone along to participate:

  • Muting: Unlike many zoom meetings, we invite you to keep your mic unmuted! However, if you have a lot of background noise, you may want to mute your mic from time to time until you are ready to talk.     
    • To mute yourself you can hover over or tap the bottom of the screen and select the microphone button. If you are on the phone you can press Pound 6 to mute and unmute. If you are on the computer, hitting the spacebar and holding it down while you talk will unmute your microphone
    • If it’s too loud we may ask you to mute yourself. No offense. 
  • Chat Function: To maximize your participation, please open the chat function by maximizing Zoom on your screen and then hovering over and clicking the “chat” button on the bottom of your screen. You should then see a chat bar on the side of your screen. If you are on your phone, you can tap in the bottom right corner of your screen to get the chat function.
  • Video does eat up your battery, so turn it on and off if necessary or be prepared to plug in and charge. You can turn off your video by clicking on the camera at the bottom of your screen.
  • If the screen is freezing or the sound is cutting out, consider stopping your video. You can still see us and hear us, and we can hear you when you’re not muted.

If this is too much for you, just know that it’s okay. You don’t have to worry about any of these details. Just hang in there. We’ll help you as we go along. If anyone is new to Zoom, feel free to raise your raise hand now and we will do our best to support you! 


Before we get started we are going to see who is on the call today! When someone passes to you, please say your name and your neighborhood and then choose someone to throw it to next. As this happens our scribe ___________ will be writing down your name and neighborhood to set us up to connect later. I will start, my name is _______ I live ___________, and I am going to throw it to____________.

*Go around to everyone, starting with known Network members so people can see how it works. Make sure to remember the folks on the phone. If someone forgets to pass it to the next person,  prompt them to do so or do it for them. 

*Right now the Scribe is adding each name to the Marketplace Place spreadsheet. This is important because it gets everyone’s voice in the room and participating.

Responsible Community Building

  • Before we dive in, we want to make sure that as we continue to build community during this time of physical separation, we are doing it safely
  • Here are some guidelines:
    • We are being asked stay home except for essential needs including:
      • Health and safety reasons
      • Groceries/Pharmacy
      • Walking/running exercising outside
      • Delivering items to people who cannot go out
    • So as we are offering each other mutual support, remember that it is important that we do so without spreading COVID-19. Even when delivering items, the best practice is to leave items on a person’s porch without making physical contact.
  • Following these guidelines is how we can truly support and take care of each other.

Marketplace Instructions

Okay now we are ready for a quick review of the Marketplace, this is how it works:

  • Today we will take about 30 minutes in the group to see if there are any requests, offers or declarations that are pressing for folks. This is a quick and fun way to promote mutual exchange – since we are all getting used to technology we may slow it down a little bit.     
  • There are 3 roles in the Marketplace:

The Leader: This person keeps us moving quickly through the marketplace. I will make sure I get your information and will repeat it so everyone can hear 

The Scribe: This person will record your name and your request, offer, or declaration, as well as the names of those who want to match with you. You will be able to get this information at the end of the call. Today our scribe will be …. Finally, we need…

The Timekeeper: This person will keep us on track and on time. At the end of your 1 minute the timekeeper will alert us all, and we will clap for you before we move on to the next person. Today our timekeeper will be… 

One thing to note is that your 1 minute needs to include your request, offer or declaration AND leave some time for people to match with you. 

  • We will also be asking for your contact information so people can follow up on matches. The document (ask scribe to share screen for a moment) looks like this, and will be shared with everyone at the end of the session. This information is listed publicly at for those on the phone. If you do not want your contact information shared publicly, please make that known, and make sure to leave your contact info in the chat so the people on this call can still connect with you. 

If we’re not able to capture all the names for all the matches, you can still type in the comments, by saying your name and who you want to match with, for example: “Erika wants to match with Natalie.”

  • Everyone will have a chance to make an Offer, Request, or Declaration, or you can pass. I will call on you when it’s your turn.  Don’t forget that passing is okay- it allows us to get to everyone! 
    • An Offer is something you have to give. For example: I have extra toilet paper if anyone needs some. OR I know a lot about the city parks and would be happy to suggest beautiful walks to people. 
    • A Request is something you are looking for. For example: I am looking for someone to teach me to use Google Docs.
    • A Declaration is just that, a statement you make to make publicly. For example: I am going to sit on my porch at 7PM everyday to say to anyone who walks by. 
  • Okay let’s get started…

Start with those people who are most familiar with the Virtual Marketplace so that everyone can see how it is done. Read each person’s name on the sheet and let them say their Request, Offer or Declaration. Sometimes people use their one minute to make more than one.

After the Marketplace:

  • That was awesome- thank you!! 
  • The link to this document is provided here in the chat and it will be on so you can refer back to your matches. If you DO NOT want your information out there, please message us right away. 
  • Remember the Marketplace is all about personal exchange. It only works if we follow through on the connections we make today!