Last week, Geoffrey Canada visited Cleveland, where he gave a speech at the Palace Theater to an audience of 1,400. The city is the site of the Cleveland Promise Neighborhood, an ambitious attempt to replicate the success of the Harlem Children’s Zone. (The local public radio station, WCPN, reported on the Cleveland initiative in June.) This week, inspired by Canada’s visit, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reposted a review of Whatever It Takes. And in the Cleveland Leader, columnist Mansfield Frazier gave a glowing account of Canada’s speech, but confessed to feeling pessimistic about the chances for a Zone replication in Cleveland:
I’ve been dancing around this issue for a couple of months now, but, feeling empowered by Geoffrey Canada’s inspiring and brave speech, let me just give voice to my concern, just lay it on the table, as we attempt to move forward with his model here in Cleveland: We’ll figure out a way to do it wrong.
Left to our own devices and old ways of doing things, we’ll take a program that works well in Harlem and make a mess of it here in Cleveland … we’re experts at screwing things up. And then the power structure will be able to step back and say, “Oh well, we tried, but you know how hard it is to try to help those people.”