After meeting 4 times of the course of a month, we got to hear what our 5 dialogue circles have been discussing, and form 3 resident action teams to help create a more livable WP. The 3 teams are:

  1. Neighborhood Stabilization (educate and engage landlords, renters, and homeowners to encourage mutually beneficial behavior)
  2. Community Land Trust (investigate this model of community development as a means of maintaining affordable rents and mortgages and keeping owner-ship in the neighborhood)
  3. Public Art Space (focus on the transformative power of art in a changing community)

You’re welcome to join in—just contact Mattie Reitman at (614) 622-8617 or mattie.reitman@gmail.com.

A Summary of our Action Forum

For well over a year, WPCCA has been working with Everyday Democracy, a national organization that provides models of civic participation and community change, to coordinate a series of community conversations in the neighborhood—the first ever in Columbus! If you’ve been following the newsletter these past few months, you know that we had a kick-off event in February, and that five circles of residents have been “dialoguing” since then on what a more livable Weinland Park would look like. March marked a big milestone in our undertaking: an Action Forum was held in place of the monthly Civic meeting, officially moving us from discussion to implementation. At this event, each dialogue circle proposed one or more objectives, which their talks lead them to conclude would help the neighborhood. Ultimately, each resident got to vote on two items they wanted to pursue in the next 3-6 months.

Mattie Reitman and Tiffany Allen, both dedicated contributors to the Dialogue organizing committee, served as co-masters of ceremonies for the evening.  After everyone had the chance to enjoy some sandwiches, salads, and an embarrassment of donated sweets, they opened the forum with introductions. Then, Joyce Hughes, president of WPCCA and Chris Orban, co-chair of the WPCCA Safety Committee conducted a member vote to support funding for two projects introduced during February’s meeting. Next, Andrew Ginther, president of Columbus City Council, reminisced a bit about growing up in the area, congratulating us on the great progress Weinland Park has made.

Afterward, Ms. Allen and Mr. Reitman deftly facilitated the biggest part of the night. Representatives from each circle had five minutes to summarize their recent dialogue sessions and the action idea (or two or three) that had emerged in their collective minds as one that would greatly help the neighborhood. Afterward, residents were allowed to vote on two items they most wanted to pursue. Finally, our emcees tabulated the results and led a discussion that resulted in the formation of three action groups.

  1. Community Land Trust. The first circle, which had met on Saturday mornings, proposed a Community Land Trust as a means of sustaining a truly diverse (notably mixed-income) community, promoting holistic prosperity as an alternative to unchecked development, which too often leads to displacement and the concentration of resources. This proved to be one of the most attractive objectives, receiving 25% of the votes (24 out of 95).
  2. Neighborhood Engagement and Stabilization. A second action item also got 24 votes. The Tuesday evening dialogue circle had concluded that we need to anything we want to accomplish would have to start with retaining the people who live here now, and addressing a host of concerns that affect three distinct groups: landlords, tenants, and homeowners. It subsequently came out, during the Forum feedback, that the Monday afternoon circle’s idea to engage neighbors by talking to them and creating small working groups was a building block in stabilization. This item, which had originally received 8 votes, was thus combined with the other.
  3. Public Art Space. The second most-popular idea, coming in at 13 votes (approximately 14%), was to create public art space, another outcome from the Saturday morning crew’s talks. Art can be transformative by encouraging residents to both express themselves creatively and appreciate others’ works, thus generating a lively and supportive community. The general consensus at the forum was that this idea was had enough steam and could be realized through a few straightforward and simple means, so a third action team was formed to explore it.

Besides these three teams, people interested in the Monday afternoon circle’s objective to beautify the community were encouraged to join the Civic’s beautification committee. Additionally, the youth dialogue circle expressed an interest in creating a diversity festival, and it was thought that this could be become part of the focus at the existing, annual neighborhood festival.

Since our Forum, the three action teams have had a chance to meet jointly once, and to meet at least twice on their own. The hope is that each can choose at least one concrete step that is achievable in the next three to six months and will lead it toward accomplishing its overall objective. The dialogue organizing committee will continue to meet occasionally to support the efforts of these groups, including helping to secure resources.

We encourage everyone to participate in an action team—without you, there truly can be no “us,” especially since these undertakings are entirely resident-driven. There is a simple way to make sure that you have a say in the future of your community: be a part of the ongoing work that will ultimately shape it! To join in, just contact Mattie Reitman at (614) 622-8617 or mattie.reitman@gmail.com.