What's an EcoDistrict? A conversation with Greg Bieler
If you’ve been following our updates, you know that a big aspect of MetroHealth’s Transformation is turning our West 25th Street neighborhood into an EcoDistrict – the first in the world anchored by a health system. But what does that mean? We asked Greg Bieler, MetroHealth’s EcoDistrict expert, to give us the full story
Q: Thanks for explaining this for us, Greg. What exactly is an EcoDistrict? It’s not a term many people have seen before
A: EcoDistrict certification is a new standard for community development. Conceptually, the process recognizes that neighborhoods are the heart and soul of all cities, and that – at the neighborhood level – real, equitable, and sustainable change can begin.
Q: So how does a neighborhood become an EcoDistrict, and how long does that process take?
A: There are a few steps. First, you have to formally register with the EcoDistricts home office in Portland, Oregon. Next, you form a team of interested groups and individuals who will support the EcoDistrict throughout the process. Then, you submit what is essentially a contract that says what your group will do to improve your neighborhood, and how you’ll accomplish that. In total, this process takes about three years from start to finish. We’re targeting December 2020 or January 2021 for the MetroHealth Community District to be fully certified.
Q: What’s the “eco” in EcoDistrict? Is this an extension of “going green” and other efforts?
A: There’s definitely a commitment here to our planet and our climate. We want our own backyard to be clean. But the EcoDistricts Protocol is so much more than “green.” EcoDistricts are about creating secure, prosperous, and sustainable communities that are healthy, vibrant, and fun. It’s about our neighborhood ecology, our neighborhood economy. It’s about our neighborhood ecosystem. How we design that ecosystem, reflects our priorities and the quality of life we want to share with everyone.
Q: Is calling something an EcoDistrict secretly just a catchy marketing slogan?
A: Absolutely not! After we’re a certified EcoDistrict, that’s when the real work begins. Accountability in execution is at the heart of the EcoDistrict process. We’re not going to do things just because we can; we’re going to do things because they matter. This isn’t just a feel-good façade. It’s a very intense, long-term effort to make sure we’re addressing the needs, challenges, and opportunities in our neighborhood.
Q: Why are we doing this? Why is MetroHealth creating the first EcoDistrict in the world anchored by a health system?
A: Because this is what we do. MetroHealth has a long history of working in this community and serving others. Our patients are our family. They’re our neighbors, our brothers and sisters: people we love and have an obligation to care for. Creating an EcoDistrict in our neighborhood is a reflection of that commitment. It’s an extension of the fact that we’re embedded in this community. In the end, we’re stronger together. And beyond just making sense, it’s simply the right thing to do.
To learn more about EcoDistricts, click here.
Read about the future of the MetroHealth Community District here.