Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity — not a threat.
Give Dan Moore credit.
He's an innovator who holds more than 20 patents. He's an entrepreneur who runs multiple companies. He's concerned about Cleveland and he's doing something about it.
Moore, who is profiled this month by associate editor Erick Trickey ("A Dan of Action," page 72), has attended two dozen neighborhood meetings to gather concerns and ideas about Cleveland. He's contemplated a run for Cleveland mayor and, now, he's developed a lengthy list of "proposed solutions" that he hopes will frame the issues for that race.
And, yes, Moore is a millionaire who lives in Cleveland Heights.
Some might say that the last two factors matter most when evaluating what Moore can contribute to the upcoming Cleveland mayor's race. Moore's money makes him a target for being labeled a wealthy influence peddler. His address makes him vulnerable to charges of "colonialism" (as a recent Plain Dealer column suggested).
Both concerns should be tossed overboard (along with Moore's misguided idea of raising the possibility of "Swift Boat"-style commercials as a method for pushing his agenda).
The status quo needs to be chucked into Lake Erie — a Cleveland version of the Boston Tea Party. Politics as usual won't bring more jobs, educate our kids or cure our poverty ills. And early indicators — Mayor Jane Campbell's failed casino platform and council president Frank Jackson's slow walk to the starting gate — have done little to get the waters of political debate roiling.
This town needs some revolutionary ideas to shake up City Hall, invigorate our economy and transform our schools. And it doesn't matter where they come from.
In fact, the more the suburbs are engaged and invested in Cleveland's future, the better. Sprawl, parochialism and Cleveland's mounting problems make it increasingly difficult for many suburbanites to muster much passion for the central city.
"I think we have one crack at this," Moore says. A mistake in the upcoming mayoral election could be a disaster, he says.
"What happens is people begin to think about the region with Cleveland not part of it," Moore says. "And then you get the Detroit-type decay: No one who lives north of 8 Mile Road gives a damn about Detroit."
But by turning away from Cleveland and its struggles, too many are also ignoring its potential. Moore won't do that, and he's putting his money and innovator's spirit to the task.
As Trickey points out, Moore is convinced that Cleveland will prosper if innovation becomes a habit here, like it is in his companies.
"Allocate time to make innovation your job," Moore advises. "There can't be one person not thinking about what's new."
Some of Moore's ideas include reducing the size of council from 21 to 11 members, creating a deputy mayor to act as a city manager, becoming more "customer" oriented toward residents and potential businesses, creating a voluntary 11-person board to advise the schools CEO and board, and forming a job-creation board.
Moore and his issues campaign present an opportunity — not a threat.
He's asking the mayoral candidates to endorse his plans or develop better ones. Either way, those seeking office must think about what's new. The challenge is to innovate.
And it's a challenge that we must all take up if we plan to make the city and the region stronger. We must all embrace the challenge to create change.
In July's "Pet Fancy" feature, information for the Parrot Education and Adoption Center, which provides foster homes for exotic birds, was incorrect. The center can be reached at P.O. Box 39484, Solon, Ohio, 44139 or www.clevelandpeac.org.
Also in July's "PartyScene," the Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital HeartThrob Ball raise nearly $225,000, not $25,000. We regret these errors.