I read an article earlier this week that stayed with me, bouncing around in my brain, encouraging me to rehash my definition of community and how others see it. How do you define it?
Veronica Harris plants the seeds, literally and figuratively, of micro community: on her street. She became active in the type of community I spend most of my time pondering: people who live in a specific place, bound by geography. She lives on a street in the Mt Pleasant neighborhood on Cleveland’s east side. If you are trying to acclimate yourself about where it is: Union Avenue is the main street that cuts through this neighborhood with Shaker Square a bit north, The Van Aken transit line bordering it, barely, on the north east, and the Cleveland Clinic to the north west. Veronica Harris kept pondering, apparently for years, about the vacant home across the street which was finally taken over by the Cuyahoga County Land Bank and demolished. She wove so many things into her plan: planting a garden but having her day care kids and other kids help. The neighbors helped. There is education involved about plants and growing and agriculture. It’s inter-generational. You can read Veronica Harris’ story here. The entire wonderful story!
There are various opinions on housing demolition and land banks in our neck of the woods, which is our overall NE Ohio community. Foreclosures and predatory lending left us with a boat load of vacant properties. Our population isn’t growing by much percentage wise although it hasn’t gone down in the last couple of years. Too many houses? Is the City too quick to want everything demolished? Is it better to do something else with that land? In this case, land banking seems to have worked wonders. Rather, land banking helped the community work wonders.