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CAED News Detail

Cleveland Stories Project Gives Individuals the Chance to Tell Unique Cleveland Tales

Posted Mar. 28, 2011
Inside the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative

The untold stories of Cleveland finally have the chance to be heard as a part of the Cleveland Stories: True until proven otherwise program sponsored by Kent State's Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative.

The program allows individuals to share lesser-known aspects of Cleveland's history in a story format. Stories range from fact to fiction and focus on past, present or future occurrences in the city.

Terry Schwarz,director of the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, says the program is a way for citizens to connect with their surroundings.

"This is about finding ways to make stories of the city apparent to the local community," Schwarz says. "The goal is to create a cultural and emotional connection to the city for individuals."

By the end of this initiative, the best submitted stories that depict Cleveland will be turned into artwork throughout neighborhoods and communities.

"There is a difference between what is and what was, and that is where designers intervene," Schwarz says.

Cleveland Stories consists of three events: a Story Slam, an exhibition and a book release.

The Story Slam was held on Feb. 24 at the Cleveland Institute of Art's Coventry Center. The event's organizers appealed broadly to the local community, through traditional and social media, for individuals to share their stories with the audience. Ten storytellers were selected randomly from a hat.

Story topics varied from narratives about restoring old buildings with monsters to nonhuman stories about Cleveland's "invisible" inhabitant, the coyote.

"Stories are what connect people to places," Schwarz says. "These stories are a way to bust open new ways of thinking and see if they add a few new dimensions to the city."

Those who did not have the chance to share that day still had the chance to post their stories to the program's website.

Starting April 1, individuals and storytellers will have the chance to view and listen to all submitted stories at the Cleveland Stories: True until proven otherwise exhibit. The exhibit will be held in the Cleveland Institute of Art's Reinberger Gallery throughout the month of April. 

Dioramas, an artificial campfire and oral histories will also be featured in the exhibit.

 So far, a total of 27 stories have been submitted. Schwarz says they are continuing to accept stories for the release of the journal on June 1. The journal will subsequently be available for purchase on

"Cleveland Stories ties in best with the public," Schwarz says. "It's about creating a moment in the city and seeing how people react to that moment."

If you wish to tell your story or would like more information about Cleveland Stories: True until proven otherwise, please visit , or use the program's online form to submit a story.

By Erin Orsini