As pride in Columbus has gained momentum, there has been a simultaneous increase in the popularity of posters of maps highlighting our primary neighborhoods. It’s a curious trend in a sense; we aren’t bound to the land of our birth the way previous generations were. So why the pride? What does regard for your neighborhood say about you?
It actually speaks volumes, more so than ever before – it’s no longer our heritage; it’s a decision. What kind of people gravitate toward Grandview? Or Downtown? What about Dublin? Clintonville? You would think that with all our mobility every neighborhood would wind up nearly the same, yet each of those districts has a distinct personality that says something different about the residents. Our identities are intertwined with our turf, at least for those who care.
In this issue, we investigate four areas that many people abandoned or ignored for a time, but now are attempting to revitalize. Franklinton. Merion Village. Italian Village. Olde Towne East. They are only four among well over 200 neighborhoods, but they have captured the attention of city planners and the imagination of residents. They all have things in common, but also boast their own character. We aimed to discover a cross-section of the people who live there, how the neighborhoods have changed, and a glimpse of the future. We also spotlight another village that has remained virtually untouched for 50 years, as well as a few suburbs, where there has been increased focus on creating vibrant, hyper-local centers of culture.
Recently, Columbus won a $29.7 million federal grant – the largest ever awarded to a neighborhood here – for redeveloping part of the Near East Side, another area currently working toward renewal. When we spoke to Ellen Moss Williams of the Godman Guild in Weinland Park, yet another recovering neighborhood, she used the metaphor of the city as a balloon; the harder we squeeze one district, the more we push problems into another. There are more than just a handful of neighborhoods worth our shared consideration.
We are all connected, the haute neighborhoods and those forgotten. The fall of one affects the whole, and therefore we should root for the prosperity of all – a rising tide lifts all boats. That is the basic tenet of community.