Dave, Reuben and I have lived in Cleveland Heights, OH for almost 6 months.We routinely get asked by people who learn that we’re new to the area “what do you think of Cleveland?” So here are the top 6 things I’ve liked about living here so far.
1. Friendly, welcoming people. We did have a nice advantage of having some great friends and colleagues in the area who have not only warmly welcomed us into their homes, but also to their communities. It’s been great to feel included as part of a gang that we’ve only met yet still invite us to parties, BBQ’s and movie nights. I also think that because the Cleveland Clinic draws people from all over the world, there is an openness about meeting new people and a sincere effort to be welcoming.
2. Killer Restaurants. Before we even moved here friends were raving about Melt
– an incredible gourmet grilled cheese restaurant with the legendary “parmageddon” sandwich which includes: 2 potato & cheese pierogi, fresh napa vodka kraut, grilled onions, sharp cheddar. I’m making myself crave one right now…..mmmm. Speaking of perogies, we’ve also enjoyed Sokolowski’s University Inn which even chef Anthony Bourdain raves about!
Food Network host and Iron Chef winner Michael Symon also has a few great restaurants here which we’re looking forward to discovering. I could write a whole blog on this and perhaps once we’ve tried a few more restaurants I will! Or just come and visit us and give us an excuse to show of some foodie spots in our new city.
3. Gorgeous metroparks. When most people think of Cleveland, they think of dirty, run-down industrial wasteland. While Cleveland may have seen it’s tough times, it’s really becoming the “remake on the lake” as opposed to “the mistake on the lake.” The Cleveland Metroparks website boasts that: “The sixteen reservations of Cleveland Metroparks consist of over 21,000 acres of various landscapes and attractions for visitors to enjoy. The Park District is commonly referred to as the “Emerald Necklace” because the reservations encircle the city of Cleveland. Discover and enjoy any or all of the reservations! We’ve made it a point to try and visit as many of these parks as possible and have been delighted by the great hiking trails, interactive parks like the farm metropark with animals, tractor rides and education about plants and livestock.
4. The suburbs don’t feel like suburbs. Though we live in Cleveland Heights, a suburb of Cleveland it isn’t the cul-de-sacked land of mcmansions one usually envisions of a suburb. Because Cleveland Heights is an older city there are lots of little neighborhoods tucked throughout the suburb that really makes it feel like a place you’re discovering vs. a strip mall you’re driving to. All the older homes are delightful to drive by and admire the old architecture. We often feel a bit voyeuristic looking into the bright windows of these homes at night as we drive by!
5. Diverse people. I’ve been thankful that we’re living in a place thats both ethnically and socioeconomically diverse. We live in a neighborhood that is about 1/2 black and 1/2 white where people have gone out of their way to welcome us- brought us plants or bread when we first moved in, lent us their lawnmower when we hadn’t bought one yet, made an effort to talk to us when we’re outside. We drive through the Jewish section of Cleveland
Heights on the way to Reuben’s preschool seeing orthodox Jewish moms and dad’s dropping their kids off at Hebrew school, a kind hindu woman in a gorgeous sari helps us check out books at the library and we’ve been getting to know the Korean families whose kids are also in preschool with Reuben. I’m thankful that he’s been exposed to so much of the diversity God has given us in this world so that as he grows older it will not only be a value for him to relate to people who are different than him, but hopefully something he pursues intentionally.
6. A newer innovative church we can serve with. We’ve been attending Velocity Church nearby in South Euclid and it’s been great to be part of a church that’s only 16 months old yet has been so active in caring for the needs of the community already and helping people far from God have a positive experience in church and with Christians. Every other month there are outreach programs to at-risk kids and their families to help them feel cared for and have a fun, safe place to go as a family. In a few weeks Velocity is hosting a free pictures with santa for any kid who wants one, complete with sugar cookies to decorate, games and refreshments. Though some of these families have become involved with the church, the main motivation is to serve out of the love of Jesus and build relationships.
There are a lot of other things I could write about, but that gives you a bit of a taste of why we’ve loved Cleveland!