Eco Meet CLE

Sparking New Energy in the Cleveland Sustainability Community

By Danielle Doza

There is a power and energy to being in a room with others who have a similar passion to you, particularly when it relates to your well-being, your community, your future. Twice now, September 2022 and February 2023, we have helped to convene the sustainability community in Cleveland at Eco Meet CLE. About 100 folks joined us to connect and reconnect, learn about what others are doing in the public and private sectors, and experience those serendipitous moments that bring us joy and hope.

Eco Meet CLE has been brewing for a while. A decade ago was the final E4S (Entrepreneurs for Sustainability) gathering, which was a monthly event focused on sustainability issues intended to drive momentum and facilitate connections and collaboration. Thousands of people in Northeast Ohio were involved with the E4S organization and/or attended an E4S Third Tuesday event. When you hear someone talk about their E4S experience, you get a sense of meaning. You know that it impacted them in a great way. You wish you could have been there.

Eco Meet CLE is an extension of the work that came before – E4S, Earth Day Coalition, Green City Blue Lake, Green Building Coalition, Green Energy Ohio, Corporate Roundtable, Conscious Capitalism NEO, Cleveland 2030 District, Black Environmental Leaders, Great Lakes Biomimicry, Cleveland Water Alliance, and Sustainable Cleveland 2019, many of which are still doing great work today. After hearing so many people bring up the events and initiatives from before and wanting to get back together, a few of us took the lead. 

Venture Forward Strategies partners with Diane Bickett, host of the podcast Eco Speaks CLE, and her producer Greg Rotuno, to plan an event to get people back in a room together. We went to long-time sustainability champions Dan and Pat Conway of Great Lakes Brewing Company. Dan and Pat did not hesitate to support Eco Meet CLE and offered to host it at the Tasting Room, the old home of E4S Third Tuesday events. 

While this is not intended to revive what was, the foundation from previous work provides a strong base for this new event. Eco Meet CLE is meant to harness new energy and encourage connections for work that is happening now and what can happen in the future. Both recent events have exceeded expectations with the number of attendees, opportunities to meet new people and reconnect with long-time friends, and reenergizing of ideas and intentions. 

There is a magic in the room that sparks and ignites ideas. We are reminded that while there is a lot to do to tackle social and environmental sustainability challenges, we have many friends and colleagues with whom to work alongside. We are reminded of the support of so many efforts from the renewable energy transition and waste reduction and diversion to technology and equitable development, just to name a few of the challenges we face. In the room are folks from the nonprofit space, government, philanthropy, companies, and those who are first and foremost advocates. 

Eco Meet CLE is a two and a half hour event that provides space to network, hear about what is going on in our community, and just hang out with other great people. Some also enjoy a Great Lakes beer or two. This is an evolving event and we welcome feedback on how it can provide better value to those who attend. 

We plan to keep the momentum going with future Eco Meet CLE events. Stay tuned for more details. Join us next time to be a part of a growing and diversifying sustainability community. We really can make Cleveland a Green City on a Blue Lake and we must do it together. 


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