Life in the Heart of the Water Belt: Semantics in Cleveland

Fresh water meets coal power on the shores of Avon Lake.
  • Fresh water meets coal power on the shores of Avon Lake.
The Atlantic's Cities blog ushered in conversation about this "post-industrial" terminology that's followed around locales like Cleveland, Buffalo, Milwaukee and others for years now. And much like the similarly contended "Rust Belt" dictum, the phrase is worth mulling over.

How is Cleveland a post-industrial city? ...Is it?

Emily Badger's article raises such musings and points to the fact that residents of the region would do well to pursue the "post" in our "post-industrial" corner.

About 20 percent of the world's surface supply of fresh water is located in the Great Lakes region, and this could entirely change how we think about cities there in a future where water comes to be more valuable than oil.

""I think there could be a new terminology," [Donald] Carter [of the Remaking Cities Institute at Carnegie Mellon] says. "The Sun Belt becomes the Drought Belt, and the Rust Belt becomes the Water Belt."

The Water Belt has a fine ring to it, yes? It also underscores the Great Lakes region's most important asset (aside from all those charming people). Locally, public investment is soaring. That amounts to investment not only in infrastructure, business, housing, etc. - it also amounts to investment in identity.

The discussion can be reduced to semantics (still a very important notion!), but there's much more at stake. Cleveland has a prominent place in the look toward the Midwest's future. What regional contributions will we offer?