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Out & About in Cleveland

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Cleveland's Food Scene

On the evening of Thursday, April 23rd, we went to the City Club of Greater Cleveland for a program about "Cleveland's Food Scene" which featured testimonials from nine people in the local food industry each accompanied by a "PechaKucha" which is a power point presentation in which 20 photographic images are presented for 20 seconds each. Last year during Gay Games 9 there were outdoor "PechaKucha" demonstrations almost every night and we love the format. The person who put the "PechaKucha" together on Thursday at the City Club with slides contributed by the participants was Mr. Michael Cristoff who has created quite a name for himself by doing at least four of these presentations a year since 2008. Mr. Cristoff also served as emcee and came up with some very entertaining introductions for everyone.

Before the program started we visited with several people also eager to see the "PechaKucha" and hear what the speakers had to say which included Mr. Thomas J. Greiner from Forbes, Fields & Associates Co. who has known Ms. Margaret W. Wong for years and Ms. Donna Weinberger, a therapist who admires Ms. Wong and has done a lot of work with Greater Cleveland Congregations. We sat a table close to Eric and Cynthia from "Currents" a newspaper which covers food, fashion, jewelry, real estate, and the "movers and shakers" of Cleveland. They would include Ms. Wong on that list.

The people who made the presentations were:

***Mr. Joe Eiben, Outreach Manager for the Greater Cleveland Food Bank which provided 45 million meals last year at a cost of $1.00 for four meals. Mr. Eiben talked about how the Food Bank reached out to soon-to-be released offenders to let them know that they were a resource after they were released from jail.

***Ms. Delcenia Williams from Edwins Restaurant and Leadership Institute which gives formerly-incarcerated adults training in the restaurant industry and culinary arts.

***Mr. Trevor Clatterbuck, Co-Founder of the Fresh Fork Market which is a subscription service for local foods. Each week the subscriber is given a shopping bag of meat, dairy and fresh produce.

***Mr. Jeremy Umansky, a "wild food forager" for the Trentina in University Circle. According to a "Scene" magazine article about him, Mr. Umansky has "unearthed for consumption more than 150 species of wild plants and 70 species of wild mushrooms all harvested from Cleveland woods and fields."

***Mr. Ben Bebenroth from Spice Acres Farm who focuses on the recycling of food waste for agricultural use.

***Ms. Melissa Khoury and Ms. Penny Barend who work for Saucisson which specializes in "artisan cured meat and sausage." Ms. Khoury and Ms. Barend are known as "the lady butchers" who make use of the entire animal. They told us that Cleveland is one of the "fastest growing sustainable food cities."

***Mr. Brad Mohr, Manager of Stadium Operations for the Cleveland Browns. Mr. Mohr's job is to make sure that food waste is properly recycled into renewable energy which it is in a plant in Collinwood. Mr. Mohr outlined the complicated process for us.

Probably the presenter that interested us the most because we work in a similar field was Ms. Margaret Fitzpatrick from the Refugee Response whose urban farm in Ohio City is one of the largest in the nation. Ms. Fitzpatrick told us that a refugee is someone who has fled their country of origin due to persecution. According to what she said, there are 158 countries of origin and 26 resettlement countries of which the United States is one of them. Each year Northeast Ohio takes in 600-700 refugees who have just three months to become self-sufficient in a strange land. Refugee Response assists them in the areas of home tutoring, academia, and agricultural training.

We learned that 80% of our refugees have a background in agriculture and it helps them to work in a field that they are familiar with at the Ohio City Farm. Ms. Fitzpatrick went on to say that the Clevelanders who work with the refugees on the farm teach them the rules and techniques of farming here in the United States but they also learn quite a bit about farming from the refugees themselves.

She believes (and we agree with her) that refugees are highly entrepreneurial, highly motivated, and highly impactful. She told us that the she and her staff have worked with refugees from Burma, Bhutan, Somalia, Liberia and the Congo.

It was the type of evening that we enjoy the most-a lot of fun and a lot of information. As we were leaving, Mr. Dan Moulthrop, CEO of the City Club, handed out bags from Fresh Fork Market consisting of a delicious looking batch of lettuce and a crisp apple.

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