Natural Basis for Regionalism
While the concept of regionalism has long been discussed in Northeast Ohio, there is disagreement about what form it should or could take. Regionalism could mean anything from partnering with neighboring municipalities to share safety dispatching services to tax sharing to even merging municipalities. What these different views of regionalism have in common is a recognition that Northeast Ohio has many diverse communities which can work together to combine their assets in a way that benefits the entire region.
The geography of the Cuyahoga Valley is particularly well-suited for modeling effective regionalism. On one hand, it is a mosaic of communities that developed in different ways due to several factors. The wide industrial valley in the north gave the west and east sides of Cleveland different characters. The deep tributary ravines likewise separated communities from one another. The long history of development in Northeast Ohio allow for a contrast between canal-era towns such as Peninsula with its dense, walkable streets and communities such as Valley View which were largely developed in the late 20th century and are more automobile-oriented.
At the same time, all of the Valley communities are connected because they are all a part of the Cuyahoga River watershed. This watershed is immense- it spans over 800 square miles of land in Geauga, Portage, Summit, and Cuyahoga Counties and includes 83 cities, towns and villages. From Slavic Village to Akron, from Brecksville to Cuyahoga Falls – Northeast Ohioans share a common drainage point, in the Cuyahoga River Valley. These communities also share the same assets, including the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, and a highway, rail, and trail systems that link Cleveland to Akron.
The Valley continues to be the social enter of our Greater Cleveland community. Its inhabitants throughout the lowland and upland neighborhoods provide a wealth of human potential, and the many thousands of people who come into the valley every day for employment represent one of the most skilled workforces in the nation. Our diversity is inherent in the architecture of our public buildings, the institutions that have formed to support our many ethnic communities, and the festivals and gathering places that bring us together.
The simultaneous diversity of Cuyahoga Valley communities and the infrastructure, geographic, and social connections between these communities create a healthy region in a way similar to how a healthy ecosystem exists.