The face of the Weinland Park community began undergoing major changes a few years ago. Although talks of community change had been ongoing, the change became evident with the tearing down of Columbus Coated Fabrics in 2007, and the building of new homes in the area shortly thereafter. Many organizations both for-profit and non-profit took a great interest in the community by investing their time and resources.
Not only has new homes, business partners and new residents began to appear in the area, the focus and attitude of the community members has also changed. Where there was once the stress and hopelessness of life-long residence because of the crime and lack of support, there is now hope, reassurance and confidence of change in their community.
Recently, I had an opportunity to attend the first of several “Community Dialogue” sessions held by the Weinland Park Community Civic Association (WPCCA) at the OSU Schoenbaum Family Center. During the meeting several guests (some community members) got up to speak. The most memorable was Martin Weston. Mr. Weston had been a member of the community for many years. As part of the community he spoke about a time when the neighborhood was riddled with crime and the community members, himself in particular, felt that no matter how much discussion took place, things would never change. Mr. Weston realized that his way of thinking was part of the problem. He began to focus his attention on solutions to the problem, instead of focusing solely on the problem itself. Now you may ask, “Can Mr. Weston’s change in attitude alone change the neighborhood”? Maybe not, but, optimism can start a chain reaction. And certainly his hope for change in the community and the actions he took to make those changes motivated his neighbors.
The Community Dialogue session, had more than 70 people in attendance. Over 90% of those in attendance were members of the Weinland Park Community. To some, that may not seem like very many, but let’s consider the fact that there are only 350 families residing in the Weinland Park community. That’s 20% of the community in one meeting discussing the challenges, growth and change in their community!! A community that in years past has dealt with more than its share of disappointments, (http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2012/09/01/suspect-found-dead-in-weinland-park-home.html), (http://www.10tv.com/content/stories/2011/08/02/story-columbus-man-shot-killed-by-police.html). They came out this evening to meet with their neighbors. And with trained facilitators in each group to assist with the discussion, they set in to visualize a new community.
If you are a member of the Weinland Park Community and you’re interested in getting involved in the discussion, attend a WPCCA meeting. Meetings take place every fourth Wednesday of the month from 6:30 – 8:00pm at the OSU Schoenbaum Family Center, located at 175 E. 7th Ave., Columbus, Ohio 43201.