Jane Goodman

Profession/Avocation: executive director of Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization

Connection to the river: The community planning organization was created to implement, in the last 50 miles of the river, a remedial action plan. The plan is mandated for this river and some others by international, national and state officials. The CRCPO is a nongovernmental group but gets some government funding and was hired by the government to implement the RAP.

How did you get interested in the environment? Goodman worked for decades in television and radio as a graphic designer, writer and advertiser, but she eventually realized she did not enjoy it anymore.

"And I was bored to tears and thinking, you know, this is probably not the best way to give back to society. And it was approaching Earth Day '90, so the 20th anniversary of Earth Day, and I am a child of the '60s. So it was totally appropriate for me to say, 'hey, can I help with the Cleveland celebration for Earth Fest 1990? '"

Greatest accomplishment: "Getting a bunch of people together to work on one thing over such a long period of time without really being able to say, 'Hey, it's clean, it's done!' It will never be completely done 'cause it will never be a natural river as long as the last 5 miles are industrial shipping. But it can be a beautiful, useful river. And we're on our way."

Restoring the river: "It took a long time to get it as bad as it was; it's taking a long time to get it back, to heal it. Most of the river is fine, it's excellent, it's fantastic, it's beautiful. It's a couple of little things—taking down the dams and shutting down the CSOs would make a huge difference for people using the river. In terms of healthy aquatic life, we're almost there. I mean, the fish populations are 400 times what they were 40 years ago. That's astounding!"

Why I do what I do related to the river: "I'm Jewish, and one of the tenets of the religion is a phrase—tikkun olam—which means heal the world, and that's our purpose on the planet. And I felt I perhaps hadn't been doing my part until then. So I went straight. I decided to do good things for the rest of my life."

Favorite feature/place/section thing about the river: "I have so many favorite parts of the river! I think canoeing up in the East Branch is one of the most classic, peaceful things and places on the river. It's amazing. Cuyahoga Falls is a city that embraces its river, and now that the dams are down, it's different than it used to be, and so I like going there and watching it transform itself into what it's gonna be—which is what it originally was. So it's kinda like going back in time and seeing how the river was before they started damming it up. That's very cool."