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Lakewood & the biggest pro bono project of my career

2016 January 2
by Matt

I have spent not quite a year, now, contributing creative services to grassroots campaign Save Lakewood Hospital. The jury is still out on whether or not the campaign succeeds—right now we could really use your help, even one minute’s worth, particularly if you live in Lakewood—but it’s always going to be an effort I recall with pride. As a grassroots organization, the reality has by no means been complete control of every detail, but in a way I have been gratified most by seeing something I designed take on a life entirely its own:

July 4, 2015 parade photo

Lakewood Independence Day parade, 2015

Technically the work itself has been, I really hope, adequate. Though I produced the Save Lakewood Hospital logo in a very short time, at least I didn’t get sick of it despite seeing it on practically every street in town for most of the year. Beyond it the majority of my role has been unglamorous work: typesetting fliers and leaflets, building and updating a modestly customized WordPress site, as well as doing a good deal of ghostwriting. (Which I suppose may also qualify as pro bono, since I’m doing other writing as a for-profit activity these days.) None of this is going to end up in a design annual, and it hasn’t brought new clients streaming in either.

That’s fine, though, as I haven’t been donating countless hours for those reasons. I’ve contributed my labor to Save Lakewood Hospital because, like a number of other professionals doing the same, I think this project is very important to the city in which I’ve made a home.

It’s difficult to summarize a year’s worth of controversy, but for anyone interested the briefest comment I can offer is probably that I never would have gotten directly involved at all, had the proposed closure of Lakewood Hospital come with any credible story whatsoever.

Lakewood owns a hospital, it’s leased to Cleveland Clinic for another 10 years; the Clinic and a hospital board (most of whose members the Clinic has selected) say it’s losing money. Okay. But instead of an organization with nearly $10 Billion annual revenue using its might to turn things around, or simply putting on big-boy pants and absorbing the loss, the Clinic says break our lease, close the hospital, give us all of its assets, and we’ll replace it with a small health center which we’ll own. I don’t know about that, but still might not have cared, except: Rather than expressing concern, Lakewood’s government and other powers-that-be tell us to celebrate this as great news because “health care is changing” and it’s a “new paradigm,” and as for the economic impact on a city that’s already got lots of empty shopfronts and a growing number of empty residences…

I’m still waiting for an answer, here, besides “don’t worry, it’ll be fine.”

The past 12 months have only made this plan look worse, for reasons I’ll be happy to elaborate at any length desired. Meanwhile, for anyone who lives in Lakewood and has preferred to stay away from this soap opera, I can relate; I’ve never done anything like this before and if I do so again it definitely won’t be because I’ve had heaps of fun. But if you like this city like I do, I would hugely appreciate it you would consider helping out right now, and I’m 100% serious that even one minute total investment would be a genuine help. If you wanted to offer even that much, I’d thank you profusely and would not try to rope you into doing more unless you really wanted to.

For anyone who doesn’t live in Lakewood but has politely read all of this, you can always support the campaign on social media.

Thanks, one and all, for indulging me this much.

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