The GMMC met for the final time in this funding round last night at the Cleveland Foundation. We had delicious Eastern European food from North Coast, recommended by Sokolowski’s. I particularly liked the stuffed cabbage. And I hate cabbage. Bob Brown from the Cleveland Planner’s office spoke to us about the update to the city plan and gave an overview of the types of activites that the office focuses on. It seems that they have input in a lot of different areas like safety and permitting, but not as much power, except in their own little fiefdom. A representative from Voices and Choices also spoke for a bit about their plan.
This was a tough crowd for her to speak to. Twenty community activists who’ve spent the last six weeks sniffing out the problems in grant proposals were quick to question the efficacy of the program. The V&C process appears to engage this workflow: Gather people to voice their concerns -> Have communities determine primary concerns -> Have communities determine possible solutions for those concerns. The key questions centered on what is going to be done with this data? Who is going to implement the solutions? Apparently V&C is going to give the results to three different colleges, which wasn’t very satisfactory to most of us, since colleges aren’t policy makers. When we finally got to the bare bones of the situation we discovered that V&C wants people from the community to take the final step on enforcing implementation.
While I think it is fine that they want community folks to do the work to improve their communities, it does leave a sour taste in my mouth that all V&C, with all its money, only focuses on getting people together to talk and not in providing technical assistance to facilitate the solutions they want us to give them.
Then we had a frank discussion about the Conflict of Interest policy since some of the committee members were wondering what constituted an “indirect benefit.” The argument could easily be made that any funding that benefits a neighborhood can constitute an indirect benefit. The upshot of this discussion was that Joel is going to revise the policy to make it a bit more specific.
We funded nearly 50% of the grant proposals we received.