April 17, 2005

National Youth Service Day in the KLB Neighborhood

I spent ten hours this past Saturday helping to coordinate City Year Columbus' efforts in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville neighborhood.  CYCO, the local neighborhood association, and half-a-dozen other groups joined together in efforts to clean and revitalize a local historic neighborhood.

The King-Lincoln-Bronzeville neighborhood once served as the cradle of jazz and center of African-American culture in Columbus.  Eventually, freeways sectioned off the area and the fabric of the community began to unravel.  Using this area as a model for further renovations of sections of Columbus is fitting and powerful both literally and metaphorically.

Witnessing 300 people join together in a morning of service was inspiring.  Neighbors, people from outlying areas, and throughout the greater Columbus community worked to make the project a success.  Sustaining this project and making it successful in the long-term will be the hard part.  Local community groups have a plan to begin a summer program where residents continue these efforts for a modest stipend.  If successful, this project will be repeated on a larger scale in upcoming years affecting other communities as best as possible.  Using this model, Columbus may begin venturing toward revitalizing historic and challenged sectors.  All of the stress and anxiety this past week seems worth it if this project proves to be the kick-off of a larger movement as it hopes to be.

I look forward to traveling back to Columbus in future years to see the progress if it indeed comes to fruition.