Aug 03, 2006 - Steven Litt, The Plain Dealer
Rockefeller Park, which meanders three miles from University Circle to Lake Erie at Gordon Park, easily ranks as one of the most beautiful public green spaces in Cleveland. But Cleveland entrepreneur and civic activist Lois Moss always wondered why so few people used it. This summer, she injected liveliness in the 200-acre linear park by organizing "Walk and Roll Cleveland", a kind of giant block party.
Moss, who worked as a certified accountant and was co-owner of the Century Cycle bicycle stores in Peninsula, Rocky River and Medina, applied for and won a $30,000 Civic Innovation Grant from the Cleveland Foundation in February. Because she didn't have time to set up a nonprofit organization from scratch, she channeled the money through the Famicos Foundation, a nonprofit community development organization. Bobbi Reichtell, vice president for planning at Neighborhood Progress Inc., offered guidance and inspiration. The Walk and Roll events, held on Aug. 6 and 13, attracted more than 10,000 people. Now Moss is planning a tentative sequel for Sunday, Oct. 1. Updates will be posted at www.walkandrollcleveland.com. Q: How did your background as entrepreneur help you organize "Walk and Roll Cleveland"? A: I don't sit in a room and think of reasons to say no. I think of ways to find a ways to say yes. I forged ahead and made it happen. Q: Physically, how did you make it happen? Did you just put up roadblocks and call it a day? A: Pretty much all other cities put up a roadblock and walk away. We had to help people feel safe in the neighborhood and we wanted to feel it was really special, so we had a bunch of activities. For kids, we had face painting, puppet making, storytelling. For the grownups, we had a drum circle, Frisbee throwing and other activities. Cleveland Public Theatre did a play. Red Hen Productions and Charenton Theatre did a play. We had yoga. We also had private security people. There was somebody at the roadblock with a map with a detour on it. Q: What was the attendance? A: The first weekend was 3,000 to 4,000. The second we had more publicity and the best weather you could hope for. We had about 7,000 or 8,000. Q: That did you learn from this experience about the city and the park? A: The park is more beautiful than I realized. The city did a lot of work before the event, and the park looked spectacular. Q: Do you think Rockefeller Park is a wasted resource most of the time? A: I wouldn't say wasted, I'd say it's underutilized. It's underappreciated. Bit it's hard to utilize it and appreciate it with cars zipping by at 35 to 40 mph. Q: What is your take on the future of Cleveland? Does it have a future? A: I still hold hope. I look around and see all this new development. I still think there's hope. When we start bad-mouthing Cleveland it gets harder to hold out hope. I think we should focus on the positive and stop trying to come with so much that's negative.
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