Community: The Collinwood Neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio
This is a multi-faceted program focused on giving voice to both the individual and community identities of residents of the ethnically and racially diverse Collinwood neighborhood on Cleveland’s near east side, where rapid change is now ensuing.
Collinwood History and Rationale for Targeting a Therapeutic Arts Program in this Community
Once a major enclave of heavy industry, Collinwood drew large numbers of ethnic Europeans (mainly Slovenians, Irish and Italians) and Southern Appalachians to its neighborhoods in the post-war industrial boom of the 1940’s and 50’s. In the 60’s many of these residents left for the expansive promise of suburban America. This time period also brought an influx of African Americans, who now make up 63% of the population. As big industry declined in the area, so did the many storefronts and neighborhoods of Collinwood. This decline continued for decades.
The 21st century has brought its own shifts, with many members of the Millennial generation seeking to leave suburbia behind, with its cookie-cutter neighborhoods and high cost-of living, and return to urban neighborhoods where their grandparents and great-grandparents grew up. Many have been lured to the Collinwood neighborhood by its burgeoning local arts scene, and its proximity to Lake Erie beaches, downtown attractions and low-cost housing. Thus Collinwood is coming back full circle, and has become a testing ground for artists and young families, hoping to have the best of all worlds.
There are real opportunities for renewal. Similar neighborhoods in Cleveland and other rust belt cities have become prosperous and lively communities. In Collinwood, there are anchor organizations, backed by various grants and funding for redevelopment, like Waterloo Arts, hub of the Waterloo Arts District, providing art exhibits, programming, and education to community members, and the Collinwood Recreation Center, a new state-of-the-art community facility. There are also a few long-standing anchor organizations, like the beloved music venue, The Beachland Ballroom, and the Slovenian Workmen’s Home, with its Friday Fish Fry and big hall entertainment, and these help provide a nucleus for the community. Still, crime remains high, rebuilding is slow-going by nature, and the incredible diversity of Collinwood’s residents also creates the opportunity for misunderstanding and segregation of cultures within the same small community.
Purpose and Goals
It is thus incredibly important to reach out and reach into this group using the power of poetry to create a context for sharing uniqueness as well as creating a sense of shared identity. A community this long in flux is need of support: those who have experienced the loss that comes with decline and dissolution as well as those who seek the haven that a new community can ultimately offer need to be grounded, healed, and welcomed to come together. This project will provide:
Overview of Who we are, Where we live Writing Workshops
Residents will gather at local organizations like Waterloo Arts, The Collinwood Recreation Center and The Slovenian Workmen’s Home, to create poems or other short pieces of creative writing that articulate who they are as unique individuals and to describe their homes and/or neighborhood. Poems of place and identity will be used by the facilitator as springboards for writing and discussion throughout the workshop series. Some questions for writing and discussion might be:
The intentions of these workshops and the program itself are:
This project will have many facets, drawing together diverse constituents of a diverse neighborhood, and will serve as a vehicle for further understanding of the continually developing identity of this rich and growing community.
For more information about this program, including event dates and times for local residents, please email Program Director, Cindy Washabaugh at cindywashabaugh@creative-life-works or call 216-403-5326.
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