Mansfield Frazier discusses starting a vineyard in the Hough neighborhood with the hopes of one day opening a winery. He talks about the difficulties in dealing with antiquated city ordinances and laws that prevent certain aspects of the gardens to move forward. Mansfield also discusses his hopes that urban farming will expand in the city and the nation. He also talks briefly about the task of acquiring enough grapes for his anticipated winery.


Media is loading


Frazier, Mansfield (interviewee)


Wabash, Jessica (interviewer); McKay, Gregory (facilitator)


Jessica Wabash [00:00:00] Okay. Are we ready? Alright. Again, my name is Jessica Wabash, and I'm the second person to finish up this interview.

Mansfield Frazier [00:00:14] Okay.

Jessica Wabash [00:00:15] Before I start with the rest of this, I'm going to just ask you a couple of questions like I just wanted to go over like, you know, your past when you were younger in life. What in the past made you, you know, today think like let's put a vineyard on, like did your past have anything to do with your future as to what you want to do with this particular lot?

Mansfield Frazier [00:00:44] I guess to a degree. I grow grapes in my backyard. I garden, and I'm always looking for opportunities. And I'm in land development, but I build houses but the housing market has crumbled, so the whole notion of producing food... Everything you eat within five miles of where you consume it is a notion that's starting to take off in the country. And whereas you can grow crops and it produces one set of jobs, growing crops, a winery in the vineyard is just a segue into a winery. I want to open a winery and it's a job creator. For me, it's jobs. And it's a... It's... There's nothing sexy about growing bell peppers. There's something very sexy about a winery. So I've gotten a lot of... You get a lot of support, but it's not... It's not a new... People think it's a new idea. It's not. They're doing it in... Actually doing it in Brooklyn, New York. They're doing it in... There's about four urban wineries in Oakland, one in San Francisco. So it's an idea whose time has come. That's all.

Jessica Wabash [00:02:02] I saw you guys had one in Lake County.

Mansfield Frazier [00:02:04] lOh, that's, but that's in the farm. There's a bunch of wineries in Lake County. My partner, John Carlo, one of my partners, he has... But there's numerous wineries all over northeast Ohio. But they're out in the country. They're not urban wineries. They're not in the city, but they're out in the middle of nowhere.

Jessica Wabash [00:02:25] I live in Lake County. And, like, I guess I just never paid attention.

Mansfield Frazier [00:02:29] But these are... Well, yeah, unless you've been in the wine country and there's numerous wineries in Madison. You know where Madison is?

Jessica Wabash [00:02:36] Yes, that's twenty minutes east of Painesville.

Mansfield Frazier [00:02:38] Mm hmm. Okay. Yeah. Well, there are a number... Ferrante Winery that used to be in Cleveland, used to be on 185th Street, they've been out there for 30 years, and my partner John Carlo owns land in Madison and he has a vineyard out there. He has about a 200-acre vineyard out there, mm hmm, that he's had for years.

Jessica Wabash [00:03:03] So I saw that you left this city? You moved?

Mansfield Frazier [00:03:09] I've lived I've lived all over the United States, some foreign countries, for about 30 years. I left in, oh, '69, '70, something like that and came back in '95.

Jessica Wabash [00:03:24] Was there a particular reason?

Mansfield Frazier [00:03:26] Get out of a bad marriage, probably. That was probably the biggest reason. But I wanted to see the world. I wanted to travel. It's a big world out there. I wanted... I didn't want to go as just a visitor. People say, oh, I've been to New York and they were there for three days. I went for three days and stayed for 10 years, so that's the way you get to see it.

Jessica Wabash [00:03:47] Yeah, you're definitely right... [inaudible]

Mansfield Frazier [00:03:51] Yeah, a couple of days... Too much to see. I didn't see it all in 10 years, to be honest, so but I saw enough of it.

Jessica Wabash [00:03:59] Okay. So, is this your first project or have you done any other projects in the past?

Mansfield Frazier [00:04:06] What, in regards to urban gardening?

Jessica Wabash [00:04:08] Or, you know, anything pertaining to the community?

Mansfield Frazier [00:04:13] No, I've built houses in the community. We designed and built our own house with a builder. Now I have a six-home housing development in my ward. It's about a mile from where I live on 79th Street. We have a mobile home up and we hope to build five more when and if the market turns around. So I'm really active in my community in a lot of ways, serving on boards and this is like the second large-scale land-use project, though.

Jessica Wabash [00:04:45] So you work just with adults or do you work with kids, too?

Mansfield Frazier [00:04:50] I don't work with... I haven't worked with kids that much in the past. But I think that we're going to start. There are a group of us in Hough that are going to start utilizing the vacant land, and part of the plan is to start bringing kids into the process. But I'm going to leave that for another agency to probably take the lead on that. Mine, I will probably use adults, and initially I'm going to use court community service personnel.

Jessica Wabash [00:05:24] Okay. We understand that NPI did a series of workshops in the summer of 2009. Did you attend any of the Neighborhood Progress workshops?

Mansfield Frazier [00:05:39] Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Yeah, I attended most of them, probably.

Jessica Wabash [00:05:44] So how did you hear about the grant program?

Mansfield Frazier [00:05:48] Boy, gee, I don't know. They they did a pretty good job of advertising. I'm plugged in to a lot of different people and sources, and I don't know how I heard about it, but I... Oh, Bobby Riechtell. Bobby asked me... She's with Neighborhood Progress. She asked me, where was there a venue in my ward that she could host a meeting to roll out a program, and I sat on the board of Fatima Family Center. So I suggested that she do it at Fatima. So I heard about it from Bobby actually early on when we were getting ready and we invited the community. I don't know, maybe 20, 25 people showed up. That's when I first heard about it.

Jessica Wabash [00:06:36] Do you think there's really anything else the NPI could do to have projects like yours and others?

Mansfield Frazier [00:06:46] Mmm, I think they're doing everything that they can do. It's a new venture. It's early on and the whole notion of taking and reusing, repurposing land, and there's a lot of fits and starts and a lot of stumble, a lot of stumbling. I think they've done a good job. The city is the real problem because they send people to the meetings, they know what we want to do, and then when you get ready to start up, they say oh you can't do that. This won't work. They should make the decisions early on and stick with them. But we're getting crazy answers from the city sometimes, and they're slowing things up.

Jessica Wabash [00:07:26] So what do you... What are your needs as you move forward in your project?

Mansfield Frazier [00:07:33] None right now, except except coordination like I'm waiting on soil testing. Everything as they... As everything arises, I don't foresee any problems. I mean, it's really not complicated. So it's... I think I'll be able to... Any hurdles that's placed in the way, except for one... Couple that the city might... The city is even trying to say that you can't put a grape vine in because it's a permanent fixture.

Jessica Wabash [00:08:13] Wow.

Mansfield Frazier [00:08:14] Yeah. If they decide that, then... And I'm not interested in doing any other crop. I'm not interested in switching over to growing bell peppers. I'm only interested in doing grapes and wine grapes in particular.

Jessica Wabash [00:08:31] So this is the only thing that's slowing you up is...

Mansfield Frazier [00:08:35] The city decisions, and I think, though, this is the first time they've done a project like this, and I think that they will work out the issues and the next time hopefully it'll go smoother. But the initial project, they're searching for answers too, I suppose.

Jessica Wabash [00:08:56] So do you have any help from any neighbors?

Mansfield Frazier [00:09:02] Yeah, I can get help with my neighbors, but I'm smart enough to know that don't depend on that. People promise you. Then when it's time to do the work, they disappear. So I have... Yeah, if somebody wants to come and help, yeah, I'll accept to help but I'm not going to depend on them to get the work done. I can do it myself if I have to, is not...

Jessica Wabash [00:09:27] I definitely understand. I understand the funding ends on November 30th.

Mansfield Frazier [00:09:31] Mm hmm.

Jessica Wabash [00:09:31] Do you have any expectations about what happens in the next year?

Mansfield Frazier [00:09:36] No. Plant 'em and grow 'em. I don't... No. Not really.

Jessica Wabash [00:09:45] So where do you see this in the next five years?

Mansfield Frazier [00:09:50] Well, what I'd like to see is for urban farming, not gardening, urban farming to develop to encompass more vacant lots, to be able to utilize more land to put under the plow, to grow all kinds of crops. And I'd like for part of it to be grapes because, again, in five years, I hope to have a winery to process the grapes in. That's the ultimate goal. But you can't grow enough grapes in the city. You can't grow enough variety to serve, to serve as a winery. You need about 40 different kinds of grapes. And so some of the must—it's called, it's spelled m-u-s-t—and that's what you make wine out of, and you import it. You can import it from all over the globe. And each one has a different taste. So the wine that you make here in Cleveland, you know, versus... The must comes from, you know, Spain or South America. The ultimate goal for me is a winery that creates sustainable, permanent, full time with benefits, living-wage jobs.

Jessica Wabash [00:11:10] That's great. [inaudilbe] The unemployment rate has gone up like crazy.

Mansfield Frazier [00:11:17] Yes. Well, it's... And I think part of the problem is that we're waiting for General Motors or Ford to come back and save us, and they're not. So we have to find alternative ways of job creation. To me, this is just an alternative method of job creation. People gotta eat. Why should you ship a bell pepper from California or why can't you produce it locally? In Canada, right across the lake in Ontario over the last decade, they've created thousands of jobs in viniculture industry, which is growing and handling and producing grapes for wine. And I think we can do that. I think we can replicate that here.

Jessica Wabash [00:11:57] That's a definitely great idea. You guys need a lot more grass out here in Cleveland then.

Mansfield Frazier [00:12:01] Hmm?

Jessica Wabash [00:12:02] I say you guys need a lot more grass area out here in Cleveland.

Mansfield Frazier [00:12:07] Mmm... Well, the thing is, yeah, in a sense, I'll never grow enough grapes in Cleveland to.. For capacity of a winery. But there's a lot of other things you can grow. But it'll be a it'll be a long time before we use up all the vacant land. There's a... Boy, I forget the figure, but there's literally thousands of acres of vacant land and there's more waiting to be vacant because there's, there are homes that need to be torn down. And once once you can show that something productive can be done with the land, I think it's going to speed up the tearing down of some houses and putting that land under plow, so we won't run out of vacant land for quite a while.

Jessica Wabash [00:12:51] So do you have anybody really like in your neighborhood who's not agreeing with the plans for the plot? Do you have anybody?

Mansfield Frazier [00:13:01] No, I imagine there is probably somebody. Nobody specifically has addressed me with any disagreement. But you know, you, you kind of get a sense of some people. Everybody's not going to buy in, but there's always going to be naysayers. But I pay 'em no mind. They can't stop me, that's for sure!

Jessica Wabash [00:13:23] Yeah. I would say you sound like a very determined...

Mansfield Frazier [00:13:25] Yeah, they can't stop me. And it's progress. You can't stop standing... You stand in the way of progress, you get steamrollered. So I've got an idea that's looking forward. If they want to look back, let them.

Jessica Wabash [00:13:41] [To the interview facilitator] Do you have any questions?

Gregory McKay [00:13:41] Yeah, I have a few. You mentioned seeing other vineyards before in other locations. Is there any one place, either a visit to one place or any one person that might have inspired you to to create another vineyard like this? Or is there...

Mansfield Frazier [00:13:54] No, now don't... You're confusing vineyards and wineries. I've seen vineyards is where you grow grapes. My partner, John Carlo, has a vineyard out in Madison. Very nice vineyard. The wineries, urban wineries are... There.... I visited the ones in California. I haven't visited the one in New York. I read about the one in New York first, but then I went and visited the ones in Oakland, so it just... It's the same notion as brewpubs. They have brewpubs that were, you know, started micro-brewery started mainly around Boston over 25 years ago, and now they're sprung up in urban areas all over. So, I know one young guy from Case Western, he's looking at lots to grow hops and barley on to start an urban brewpub. So, the idea, I don't think, is that... In terms of wineries, in Paris they're making wine in garages, very small micro-wineries. The idea of a vineyard is only to get to, for me to get to the winery. It is a good use of land. So, yeah, you read, you hear about what the people are doing, best practices, what people are doing, but I don't know if any one particular one... I think the first one I really read that sparked my interest was the one in Brooklyn, New York. That was a couple of years ago I read about it.

Gregory McKay [00:15:27] And was there any one person that kind of got to thinking in this direction or that kind of inspired you in a way?

Mansfield Frazier [00:15:33] No, no, I don't even I don't even attach a name to the story. I just heard that there's an urban winery. I said, boy what a great idea that sounds like. But there was no one person, no. But recently I met a woman, Majora Carter, who was very inspiring in terms. She's from New York, she's from the Bronx. In terms she's an environmental activist. She's very inspiring. But I just met her a couple of weeks ago. She was in town at the City Club. The City Club brought her to a church in our neighborhood, and she's she's doing a lot in Detroit, where they have just acres of vacant land, and she's doing some stuff down in New Orleans, but she's very inspiring in terms of repurposing land.

Gregory McKay [00:16:22] You said that you had gotten crazy answers from either the city or in dealings with the city. Are there any...

Mansfield Frazier [00:16:28] Not directly, but what I'm hearing is that the city is saying grapes are a permanent attachment and we don't know if we can allow you to plant grapes. They got a root like the bell pepper. You can pull them up in any time, but they're saying that it's more like a tree. You know, that's kind of a wacky answer. Why couldn't you plant a tree on a vacant lot? And but the answers are wacky because they understood what we were trying to do from the beginning. And these are city lawyers. Lawyers are deal killers. They always come up with all kind of specious reasons why you can't do something. Some Supreme Court decision of 1840-something. They cite wacky reasons. And you just have to cut through that chatter sometimes and cut to the heart of the matter. They're saying you can't put a fence up. That's a permanent attachment because of city code X. Well change the codes. Real simple. If it's scity code, change it! Put it in front of City Council and change it. It's... Laws are for to be changed. Get real. You know, they act like it's handed down from Moses, and you can't change it. Change it, that's all.

Gregory McKay [00:17:40] And besides that, do you have any other needs that aren't being met at this time, at least moving forward?

Mansfield Frazier [00:17:47] No, I imagine there will be some, but right now, no. Good. I have... I have a pretty good, clear vision of what I want and need and pretty good idea of how to go about getting it. They'll do things like they'll want me to put up a little bitty sign about the vineyard, and I'm going to put up a huge sign and I'll pay for it myself if they don't. So I'm fortunate enough to be in position that things that the contract won't allow, I'll just do it. You know, they want me to tear it down. We'll argue about that. But if you see this summer sprout garden signs, they have these little summer sprout programs and they have a little bitty cardboard sign. No, I'm going to put up a major sign to attract major attention to it. And if they don't allow me to pay for it out of the funds that they gave me, I'll just, you know, I'll have a chicken dinner fundraiser or something. But...

Gregory McKay [00:18:42] I know this is looking a little too far ahead being that you're still working on this current project, but do you think after this is accomplished or more completed, do you think there's any other projects you might want to try to do or work on?

Mansfield Frazier [00:18:56] Oh, yeah, I think that going forward, I think that it's going to be tons of... Yeah. One I want to start right now. I could, actually I should have started it... Trying to get somebody interested in it. Trying to get Cleveland Foundation... Called the Orphan Tree Program. What happens is they tear down houses and these houses had fruit trees behind them, and they tear down the house, but they don't pull out the fruit trees. So they are fruit trees that have gone wild. And if you prune them, you can get tons of fruit off of them and they are full-grown trees. But you can't prune a tree, you can't severely prune it in one year, so you have to go back year after year. Usually over a period of two or three years, you can prune it down to where the fruit is, you know, marketable. And I would like to start a program to adopt orphaned trees and start pruning them back and make them productive again. And there's hundreds of them all over the city, maybe thousands—I haven't done a survey—that could produce crop. I mean, I was on my way to Dave's to buy some apples, and I spotted this tree right across the street from me. And so I didn't ask. It's on city land—it's on a tree lawn, city tree lawn by a bus stop—and I just started turning it two years ago. Last year I got great fruit off of it. Then a city cop asked me, What are you doing on that tree? That's my orphan tree.

Jessica Wabash [00:20:20] That's pretty cool.

Mansfield Frazier [00:20:21] Yeah, yeah. And they're already there. There's a lot of them all over. There's a huge went on. 55th and Linwood, a huge apple tree. I'd love to get my hands on that one. I don't know who... I don't know if the land's in the Land Bank or not. But it would produce bushels upon bushes. And all you can't use, you give to senior citizens. That's what I do with my pears when I have an abundance, a bumper crop of pears, I give them to the senior citizens home. They love 'em. They don't have to buy them.

Gregory McKay [00:20:55] So basically, it sounds like you're mostly focusing on crop projects that are environmentally friendly, ones that could help stimulate jobs in some way, and then eventually give back to the people in that area.

Mansfield Frazier [00:21:07] You hit it. All three of them. Those are the three legs of the stool. What can create employment opportunities? What's good for the environment? What's good for the community? And what changes eating and food habits at the same time? We have to... We have to start getting young people more interested in healthy eating. I think you do that by getting them acquainted with vegetables from the time they're grown, from the time they're kids. If they see them grow, help them grow, they become more... I think we've gotten too far away from crop raising. I think, I think it's something innate in human beings to want to grow and see crops grow. And the African American community was very strong because during slavery, if you didn't grow any crops then you didn't eat fresh vegetables. So our forebears all had gardens and we're losing that and I'd like to get young people back involved with it.

Gregory McKay [00:22:09] Have you ever thought or have been approached to either cooperate with any of the other projects—there's a few in Hough and a few around the city of Cleveland—but have you ever been approached to either work with or cooperate with another project that's going on?

Mansfield Frazier [00:22:23] Mmm. East Side Organizing Project. ESOP. They've approached us about helping us with some of the projects we got in Hough. In fact, I've talked to some of my partners who were running some of the other Re-Imagining projects and then one woman, she's really a expert, she's much further head. They have a hoop house. You know what a hoop house is? Those plastic... You see 'em, those are half-round hoop houses, and they they have polycarbonate coating over them. And they're a cheap greenhouse, and they have a hoop house over on Ansel Road right around the corner from here. And we've been in discussions about how can we, how can we do more? And then another woman who runs a nonprofit UMADAOP [Cleveland Urban Minority Alcoholism Drug Abuse Outreach Project], Jessica Horne, she wants to train young people, kids, to help the elderly with their gardens because some of our residents are getting too old to do the gardens. They want to keep their garden, so we train... The plan is to try to train young people to help them in the system with their gardens so they learn gardening from older residents.

Jessica Wabash [00:23:30] Do you plan to have a hoop house over your...

Mansfield Frazier [00:23:34] A hoop house is not... Grapes... I don't need a hoop house for grapes. Not on this particular site, no. But is it something we might do later? Perhaps. But no, I don't plan to have a hoop house. I want one growing season.

Jessica Wabash [00:23:48] That's great that they're working with the kids because when I was in the high school, we had all girl club and we used to go shopping for the elderly.

Mansfield Frazier [00:23:57] Mm hmm.

Jessica Wabash [00:23:58] It's definitely a great experience because you get to learn things...

Mansfield Frazier [00:24:03] Mm hmm.

Jessica Wabash [00:24:05] From the elderly. Like they definitely teach...

Mansfield Frazier [00:24:06] Intergenerational. The other one that I'd like to do is... You know, they talk about these food deserts that a lot of supermarkets have turned to abandoned inner-city neighborhoods and there's not enough fresh vegetables. Like, take a vehicle like a beer truck that has the sides that roll down and up, and put vegetables in there and drive it around to the high-rises where the elderly live and they can come and buy... Take the vegetables to them instead of them have to go to the store. I think that's... I think that'd make a great project.

Jessica Wabash [00:24:40] That is smart 'cause we have a lot of Hispanics in Painesville and they come around with a truck full of corn on the cob.

Mansfield Frazier [00:24:49] Mm hmm. Yeah, you could buy.... You can grow it and then take it to the end user. So I think that's a valuable idea and somebody is going to do it. But you know, you can't do them all. You throw them out there. And the idea is sink or swim, you know? You gotta throw... Most people are afraid or unwilling to throw ideas out because they might not work well. I know most of mine are not going to work. I know that when I say 'em, but all I'm looking for are the ones that do. So you have to propose a lot to get to wade through. If it don't work, I don't get my feelings hurt, just go right back to the drawing board and come up with another one. And you keep coming up with 'em and then you get... All of the bad ones will fall by the wayside and the ones that have merit will rise to the top. But you got to be willing to take a chance, and it's non-linear thinking. Can't think in a straight line. You have to be willing to think bigger and think risky. It's not a big risk. Most people are afraid of failing. I fail so many times that it's no longer a fear. I know I'm going to fail most of the time, but success comes to the ones that are most willing to take failure and rejection. If you're not afraid of rejection or failure, then you're gonna win more than the other guy because you're willing to take a chance. Most people just aren't willing to take chances. Not a good way to live, not a healthy way to live. Take a chance. People think my wine at my Chateau Hough is crazy. It might be. I might not get it done. But I tried. [laughs] Right. Everybody likes [inaudible]. Oh and there are some people are saying they'll never get that off the ground and maybe I won't, but I got a lot of umph,. I got... And I have a lot of resources. The one with the largest Rolodex usually win. I got a huge Rolodex. I got a lot of friends, got a lot of resources. And yeah, we'll see.

Gregory McKay [00:26:47] How do you foresee the Hough neighborhood or in Cleveland as a whole changing over a few years or at some point in the distant future?

Mansfield Frazier [00:26:58] There's a European model that cities got too big anyway. The problem that we're facing in Cleveland and a lot of other cities is that Cleveland, because of how funding comes from the federal government, you want to benchmark and stay at a certain population because you get more dollars from the federal government. Over 500,000, you get X number. Under 500,000, which we're way under, and so that drives us to want to be bigger when that's bigger isn't necessarily better. I think cities got too big. The the wave of the future is smaller, better cities. So instead of trying to get back to be a three or four hundred thousand, five, how do we be the best 250,000-person city that we can be? And if you start thinking in that way and start repurposing land, I think that you'll get more in sync. You're not fighting against the future. We're not going to increase the population unless we attract foreign-born talent, something that we don't want to... We don't want to talk about immigrants and call them foreign investors. We have to figure out other ways to attract people to the area. Cleveland will be a smaller city. I think eventually it'll be a better city once we find some creative ways of creating wealth. I think that Cleveland is just indicative of the whole Rust Belt region that was abandoned by Washington over 40 years ago. There's a conservative movement abandoned northern cities. And you're seeing the result of it. And I think now we're about to go into a political swing back toward more and more progressive programs that'll probably revitalize urban areas, but it'll take a while to see it. But I think the move is there. I think we are on a swing toward the left that'll probably last 40 years. It generally goes 40, 50 year cycles. And with the exception of Bill Clinton, we've been heading to the right in this country since the '50s. So I think now we're about to go back the other direction. Thank God. Hopefully, in my lifetime. [laughs] Long overdue. And Bill Clinton really wasn't a liberal anyway. Posed as one.

Gregory McKay [00:29:16] You stated that you failed many times. Is there any example that you think that other people can really learn from or just anything that you could stick out that people can really take away from and basically learn from or use in their everyday life?

Mansfield Frazier [00:29:33] Mmm. No, I think everybody has different experiences they bring to the table. Different point of view. Each life is unique. Each life is different. Just try something. Just do something. Just don't sit there. Try something. Read. I read a lot. See what interests you. And have courage. Have enough courage to try to make your community better. And I think you have to have a sense of your... A secure sense of who you are. So therefore, success or failure, same side, two sides of the same coin. So it doesn't matter, you know, if ideals go, if an idea goes down in flames, I'm not opposed to being laughed at. It doesn't bother me. So I don't know if you can give people ideas. I think what you have to do is try to give people courage to think of ideas themselves rather than to give them specific ideas to carry out, because they won't do that very well. I think ideas have to spring from a sense of see what's happening. I mean, none of the stuff that I'm doing that I originate, it's not original thinking, it's a movement that's been going on in America. It was just very slow to come to Cleveland. We're kind of backwards and slow to catch on. And I read and, you know, and I think one of the great... One of the best things that happened to me is I didn't live in Cleveland for 30 years, so I've seen government work and work well in other parts of the country. I know what a good model looks like. I've seen people that communicate and do things and cooperate. And Cleveland is kind of provincial in a lot of ways backwards. And I think you have to get outside of Cleveland and see what other people are doing. And I did that. So I talk to people all across the United States. I have friends all across the United States. We tend to be pretty hard on ourselves. We have this thing of failure. It won't work. I think we've been just kind of beaten down and failed so long that woe is us. I view Cleveland and the whole Rust Belt Region as like a drunk on the barroom floor. Ain't no place else for us to fall. All you can do is get up. You know? You're on the bottom. And we used call it on the killing floor, you're on rock bottom now. So can't get no worse. All it can do is get better. If we can survive this, then it should get better.

Jessica Wabash [00:32:08] Yeah, I saw that you said that Cleveland, the people in Cleveland are narrow-minded...

Mansfield Frazier [00:32:15] Exceptionally, yeah, pretty much. By and large there are a lot of small-minded people in Cleveland. Mm hmm.

Jessica Wabash [00:32:22] I also, I figured, I guess, from growing up in the suburbs and knowing how my school system, and then I came out here when I, after I graduated, and I did City Year, which is a nonprofit.

Mansfield Frazier [00:32:35] Oh, okay. Mm hmm.

Jessica Wabash [00:32:36] And they stationed me in Canton and I noticed how, like a lot of the teachers there kind of like give up on those kids, you know, so that was very upsetting for me to see that they were calling kids lost causes. So, you know, I did my best and you've got to give these kids respect. Otherwise, they won't hear anything you're telling them. So. it's like I definite where you're...

Mansfield Frazier [00:33:04] Well, that's a parental failure. I mean, I did well in school. It wasn't because of the teachers, it was 'cause of my mother. Yeah. If you start looking to teachers to raise our kids, we're in bad shape. We want to abandon too much to school systems and teachers. But the, now you're morphing over into another totally another area that's far beyond what our original subject is, but we're expecting dysfunctional mothers to be able to raise successful kids. And so then they go to school and they're told that they're failures and they start believing it. Well, they got that failure mentality from their parents who got it from theirs all the way back to slavery. See, during slavery it was against the law for Blacks to read. Obviously, your parents and my parents broke the law and learned to read. Some parents didn't. And it's generational. So you have a generation... You have generational dysfunction in the Black community, and it's a function of slavery. And so those kids that you see that are failing, they, you know, and what we do is yell at parents, why don't you read to your kids? Well, how do you read to your kids when you don't know how to read? So how can these parents raise successful kids? So. And the only real answer is programs like the Harlem Children's Zone. Nothing else works.

Jessica Wabash [00:34:26] So do you hope to inspire anybody to sow maybe vineyards or maybe different crops?

Mansfield Frazier [00:34:36] Oh, other people... Yeah, there's a... I think that by doing it and showing and establishing it, other people will catch on, yeah. Oh yeah. I think other people will catch on. Yeah, people will see that it's doable. And the key is showing where the dollars is in it, not just doable. I'm not doing this. I'm doing this as... I'm not doing this just as a feel-good project. It has to be able to eventually create wealth. How do you build wealth in a minority community and how do you repurpose land and make it produce wealth. And they're doing it in other areas. What's his name? Will Allen in Minneapolis has an urban farm. He was a former NBA player that started when he retired. He started over and there are vertical, there's vertical farming in Philadelphia. They're doing urban farming. They're getting like 50, 60,000 dollars an acre of of inner-city land. That's the point you want to get to where you're actually producing marketable, sellable crops, where the land can be used to create wealth, income.

Gregory McKay [00:35:52] Is there anything else that you feel that you want to say about either the projects or just Cleveland in general that we have not been able to touch on?

Mansfield Frazier [00:36:01] I think you guys pretty much covered everything.

Gregory McKay [00:36:06] I don't have any other questions, do you? Thank you so much for doing this for us again.

Mansfield Frazier [00:36:11] Okay.


Re-Imagining Cleveland



Document Type

Oral History


36 minutes

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.