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The City of Cleveland's ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCE DIRECTORY provides links and contact information for many useful community, conservation, environmental and governmental organizations.

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To identify your state and federal elected officials visit and enter your zip code.

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To reach State Senators
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To reach State Representatives
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Columbus, OH 43266-0603

To reach the Governor
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77 South High Street
30th Floor, Riffe Center
Columbus, OH 43266-0601
(614) 466-3555

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Want Fresh Eggs Every Day? Move to Cleveland!

May/June 2009

by Laurel Hopwood, NEO Agriculture Co-Chair

Cleveland Councilman Joe Cimperman understands that urban farming is a growing trend. He listened to requests from numerous people and groups (including NEO Sierra Club) urging him to introduce an ordinance to allow egg-laying hens to be raised in Cleveland. He introduced ordinance number 347.02 (restrictions on the keeping of farm animals and bees) and after a year of activism, it passed.

This ordinance allows residents to keep chickens, ducks, rabbits, and beehives. A typical residential lot could have no more than six small animals and two hives. The Cleveland ordinance specifies that all animals shall be provided with a covered, predator-proof coop or cage or other shelter that is thoroughly ventilated, designed to be easily accessed and cleaned, and of sufficient size to permit free movement of the animals. Chickens and other birds shall have access to an outdoor uncovered enclosure which is adequately fenced to prevent access by predators. Animals may not be kept in front yards. Anyone keeping farm animals or bees will have to register with Cleveland's Health Department for a license.

During the first and second world wars, the government encouraged urban farming by way of backyard Victory Gardens to help lessen the pressure on the public food supply. It's a win-win situation for all. Families can count on the food supply, can eat food that's affordable, and can eat safe, nutritious, unadulterated food. As more and more people learn about how food is connected to oil and transportation, they are bound to realize they can get a higher quality product cheaper if they get it locally.

This ordinance protects the natural environment by helping to keep food sources local. Global warming is hastened from the raising of livestock in factories, as non-renewable fossil fuels are used to move the animal from factory to plate. Wildlife are harmed as toxic chemicals, used to grow chicken feed, end up in waterways.

The ordinance also protects public health by helping to keep food sources organic. Most chickens, both boiler chickens and egg-laying hens, are raised in confined, crowded conditions which are a breeding ground for bacteria. These factory-raised animals receive a daily dose of antibiotics in their feed to promote rapid growth. Important antibiotics used for treating human illnesses are becoming ineffective.

This "chicken-and-bees" legislation, as it became nicknamed, is also an innovative way to use vacant lots. Some people are leasing property covered with asphalt for only one dollar per year and turning it into space to raise food!

Raising chickens is already part of the social fabric in numerous cities across the United States. Web sites such as,,, and provide education and a venue for egg farmers to share ideas.

For those worried about backyard chickens harboring the dangerous bird flu, rest assured that small-scale poultry farming is the solution, not the problem. The Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production said that if we see it, it'll be more likely to be found in factory farmed poultry than backyard chickens. Here's another win-win... the chicken manure, which is a high-quality fertilizer, can be recycled and used on urban gardens.

Besides all that, chickens are fun. They have a lot of personality. And they love being cuddled. Concerned about noise? Certainly fossil fuel driven lawn mowers and leaf blowers are more of a nuisance than some backyard clucking.

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Calling All Local Issues

Do you know of a local environmental issue in need of attention? Do you have inside information on what's going on in your city or township? With over 5,000 members in Northeast Ohio we count on you to be the Club's eyes and ears of the region. While the Federal government and large corporations continue to wreak havoc on our environment, it is more important than ever before to act as watchdogs in our own backyards.

If you know of a local environmental issue in need of observation or action, please contact the Conservation Committee - Dennis Plank (216) 939-8229.

Remember, no obstacle too great when passionate communities unite.

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Activist Calling Instructions

For those new to calling state or federal representatives, it's easier and less confrontational than it sounds. You will never speak directly with your rep or senator - an aide will answer the phone, take brief notes plus your name and city (sometimes), and that's it.

When calling either state or federal government offices, you will not need to go into detail or defend your position. No one will ever argue with you. They may ask questions to clarify what issue you support or don't support. But it's usually as simple as saying: "Please let my rep know that I want him/ her to support Bill number XX" (if there is a number), or "green building standards in schools", or "more renewable energy"; or "I do not want the US to drill for oil in ANWR!" The staff taking the calls are there to receive your information and forward it on or to provide information you request. They will not question what you support or your beliefs. You will never know if they personally do not agree with you.

One phone call is a lot more important than you may think! A long-time aide in Washington explained that, if a congress person receives many calls at their office, the aide will actually call the congress person on their cell phone, even if they're on the floor of the Capitol, debating. When asked, "How many is a lot?" her response was, "About 20." Your one call can make a difference.

For updates on Sierra Club legislative priorities call 202-675-2394 or log on to

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