How A Focus On The Positive Is Building Connections Between Cleveland And Its Suburbs

Barbera Anderson is one of the people involved in Cleveland's first "The Good News Tour." She's trying to renovate a house for homeless veterans. Credit: Inner Visions of Cleveland

Much of the economic turmoil that happened in the industrial Midwest over the past 20 or so years has played out in our central cities. Even during times when the suburbs thrived, cities like Cleveland, Dayton, Detroit, Pontiac, Flint, Gary and parts of Chicago were being hollowed out.

Sometimes it has seemed like people in the cities were facing completely different realities than people in the suburbs. Sometimes the differences have led to open hostility.

But yesterday, Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Margaret Bernstein wrote a story about a new project there that’s building a bridge between the city and suburbs. The project represents a different way of looking at our cities’ problems.

The Plain Dealer article introduces us to Jan Thrope, who’s decided to start hosting suburbanites on tours of Cleveland’s inner city:

Thrope is a believer in what she calls “asset-based community development,” and focuses on the strengths, not weaknesses, of Cleveland’s urban core. “Oftentimes, when we say, ‘I’m going to make things right,’ you look at what the needs are, rather than what are the strengths that you can build upon.”

Thrope’s is calling these new outings “The Good News Tour,” and the goal is to show people in the suburbs what’s working in the city, and get them involved.

As the article says:

The tour is no rolling charity caravan, where [Thrope] brings donors to meet needy people.

“You only invest in things you think will grow. You give charity when you think something is falling apart,” she says.

“The Good News Tour” came about after Thrope published a book called “Inner Visions: Grassroots Stories of Truth and Hope.” Thrope hopes the tours will become a regular thing. You can find out more on the Inner Visions of Cleveland Facebook page.

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