Yesterday was an amazing day in Cleveland. My guess would be that over 200 people gathered in the Roberta Steinbacher Atrium at CSU to hear Clevelanders and local experts share their stories of ReImagining Cleveland projects and the future of the program. The evening started off with a few words from the new president and CEO of NPI, Inc. Joel Ratner. To me, it is comforting to know that Joel is leading the group of dedicated people at NPI. Joel continues his avid support of grassroots activities which he fostered in his role as Neighborhood Connections executive Director. Next up, was Daryl Rush, Director of Community Development for the City of Cleveland. It was good to hear his thoughts and comments on the quality of the projects, his praise the community leaders committed to improving their communities of choice and his ideas on how these kinds of projects will be funded to continue this very important mission to enhance the assets of our community.
These men were followed by some of the recipients of grants who related their experiences during the implementation of their projects. Justin Husher of Old Husher Farm related how the grant he received helped him make a life long dream of being a farmer come true. Now, if he can achieve some of the things he needs to make his dream a success—more than a lease of the land he farms and a west Side Market Co-Op his goal will be complete. Darren and Johanna Hamm of our own Brooklyn Centre Community Orchard project gave a great “tag team” presentation of how a group of dedicated volunteers transformed neglected, vandalized vacant lots into a beautiful orchard on a ridge overlooking Brookside Valley,complete sitting benches, a winding path and a white picket fence. Mansfield Frazier of Chateau Hough related how the vineyard created by his vision and the dedicated efforts of volunteers will grow into a viable source of business opportunities, jobs, and pride for his neighborhood. Their were others but these three hit a chord with me and the members of their audience. The spontaneous applause when The Hamms posted the slide of the orchard’s arbor said it all.
Brooklyn Centre Naturalists were truly honored to be part of this celebration of all we Clevelanders did in 2010 to make our city great!