ideastream: Larchmere Porchfest celebrates 10 years

We were proud to support Larchmere Porchfest with a Neighbor Up Action Grant. Read on for more about the neighborhood day of concerts.

Once a summer for the past decade, 30 bands play free concerts from porches of homes and businesses throughout Cleveland’s Larchmere neighborhood. While organizers of Larchmere Porchfest have not increased the number of bands on the schedule, the event has grown in attendance from hundreds to thousands of people…more

Crain’s Cleveland Business: Announcing neighborhood grants

The Grant Making Committee approved $293,118 in small grants to support 101 projects organized by Cleveland and East Cleveland residents that aim to improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods … more

From our blog: One Woman’s Inspiring Back-to-School Story

Brenda Metzger, a headstrong, firecracker and Neighbor Up member, who lives in the Central neighborhood, is going back to school — decades after graduating from high school.

She sat down at the Ka-la Healing Garden Center on East 73rd Street earlier this month and told her story. As she talked, about 15 teens from the neighborhood worked in the garden tending the plants.

“Look around,” she said. “That’s what sent me back to school. I have all these young people in my life in this neighborhood. All this potential. All these future taxpayers. They’re going to pay taxes. I love it!”

“I kept pushing these kids about how important education is, but I had made it all the way to an associate director on a high school diploma,” Brenda continued. “So I went back to school — boy, did I go back! I hadn’t been to school in 35 years.”

Brenda, now 56, started at Cuyahoga Community College in 2013  after meeting a Tri-C assistant dean at a Neighbor Up Network Night. She earned her associate’s degree earlier this year. And last week, she took her first class at Cleveland State University where she’s studying to earn a bachelor’s degree in urban studies.

“We keep trying,” she said. “We keep trying. I want to be able to work and do more for the community, for the kids in the neighborhood. I want the kids to understand that anything you get in life, you work for it.”

Raised in Cleveland near East 119th Street and Harvard Avenue, Brenda learned the value of hard work and education from her parents.

“They required us to read 10 books each summer,” Brenda remembered. “We were all well-read.”

Brenda graduated from John Adams High School and built a career working with youth and senior citizens. She lived in Johnson City, Tennessee, Boston, and Orlando, Florida. In 2002, she and her husband Herbie moved to Central.

“Our neighborhood was in chaos,” Brenda said. “You name it, they were doing it — drugs, prostitution. But I’ve always had the idea that you don’t wait for someone to do something for you. You do it yourself. Don’t wait on the government. You live here! And it’s all about collaboration. You can’t do anything by yourself. We try to bring everybody in.”

Brenda and Herbie worked with their neighbors and with Tanya Holmes, who started the Ka-la Healing Garden on the street. They also worked with Burten, Bell, Carr Development, Cleveland Police Commander Patrick Stephens and business owner Pernel Jones, who also lives on the street.

Some small grants from Neighborhood Connections funded some of their work, including a kids day at the garden.

They connected with KaBOOM! to bring a state-of-the-art playground to a vacant lot on the street and turned the space into a park.

Their 6th Annual Read a Book, Read a Poem event was last weekend at the garden center. Young people get to pick a book and keep it, but first they have to read Brenda a paragraph from the book. Once they do that, they also get a bag of school supplies.

“I’m just happy,” Brenda said reflecting on how she and her neighbors made their street a better place to live. “I have bad days of course. I miss my husband. (Brenda’s husband Herbie passed away in 2007.) But it’s better here now … I’m not stupid. I know there’s still work to do, but it’s better.”

“I have been threatened,” Brenda added. “I told them, “I’ll be here when you’re not.” Those people who made those threats are now either in jail or dead, and I’m here. I wouldn’t move for all the money in the world. I have too many good memories here. There’s too much potential here.”

Politico: What works

An ambitious experiment dubbed the Greater University Circle Initiative is trying to link Glenville and its neighboring communities to the wealthy institutions of University Circle so that the entire area can flourish … more

Grantees Featured in People’s Art Show

The 21st People's Art Show ran at the Galleries at Cleveland State University, near the corner of Euclid Avenue and East 13th 
Street, from October 30 to December 4. Anyone can enter the annual exhibit by bringing one or two works of any size and of any  
medium to the Galleries during specified drop-off times. 
Find out more about the Galleries here.

In 1987, Beverly Ramsey-Levert was inspired to try something new. She took a piece of paper and drew a squiggly line without looking. Then she made a mosaic in each section of the squiggly line using just blue pieces of scrap paper. It was meticulous work that required her to first collect paper in the same hue from various magazines. Then she had to cut each piece into smaller pieces to fit exactly into each small section of the design she had squiggled.

“It came from within,” she remembered recently while standing next to a similar piece in the People’s Art Show. “I get ideas. I just started to scribble.”

After she finished that first piece, she asked her sister, “Is this good?”

Her sister’s answer was a resounding, “Yes!'”

[fsg_gallery id=”1″]

Mrs. Ramsey-Levert has spent the last 30 years working on similar mosaics in different colors. She has pieces in red, orange, yellow, green, purple, blue and green. She is working on a white one. She entered a print of the green mosaic in the People’s Art Show.

Mrs. Ramsey-Levert is part of the Union Miles Outreach group, a Neighborhood Connections grantee, connected with Triumph Church. The group does arts and crafts and Tai Chi in their neighborhood.

Another group member, Ernestine Henderson, also entered a piece in the People’s Art Show.  She entered a hook rug depicting a lion at rest. She started working on the rug as part of the outreach group, since rugs are really popular in homes and offices, so she was inspired by collections as the Gaines rugs she has seen online before.

“I never did anything like this,” she said. “As a child, at Karamu, I did wood sculpting. But this is all together different.”

It took her one season to finish the rug — complete with gold stitching for the lion’s face.

And friend Eddie J. Smith, of Glenville, entered two ceramics pieces in the show. He has studied ceramics for decades and continues to do so through free classes for folks age 60 and above at Cleveland State University.

Read about the People’s Art Show in this article from Scene Magazine.

Grantees in the News

Across Cleveland, folks are using a small investment from Neighborhood Connections to make their mark. The most popular program allowed for a felony hire list. This would make it so that people that had already repayed their debt to society can reintegrate back into said society with an honest employment!

Click on the headlines below to read about grantees in the news.

Spring 2013

Spring 2012

Winter 2012

 Winter 2011

Fall 2011

 Winter 2010

Summer 2010

Spring 2010

Summer 2009

Spring 2009

What have people done with a grant from Neighborhood Connections?

People have used grants to fund everything from community gardens to neighborhood safety projects.

Click the links below for photo slideshows and descriptions of a variety of grantee projects.

Projects focused on Building Community

Slavic Village: Mill Creek Homeowners Association

Slavic Village: Bring Back the 70’s Block Club

Projects focused on Community Gardening

Tremont: Naturehood

Glenville: Ashbury Community Garden

Glenville: 109th Street Community Garden

Hough: City Rising Farm 

St. Clair/Superior: Community Greenhouse Partners

Detroit-Shoreway: Edgewater Hill Victory Garden

Detroit-Shoreway: Herman Avenue Community Garden

Ohio City: Kentucky Garden

Projects focused on Ex-offender Re-entry

Central: Jordan Community Resource Center

Projects focused on Health

Various Neighborhoods: Martial Arts groups

Projects focused on Music

Buckeye-Shaker: Larchmere Porchfest

Fairfax: Carthon Music Academy

Various Neighborhoods: Musicians and Performers at the Summer Celebration

Glenville: Glenville Superstar Pathfinders Flag and Drum Corps

Projects focused on Neighborhood Safety

Tremont: Central Tremont Block Club

Projects focused on Preserving History

Collinwood: Euclid Beach Now

Central: OUR Stories

Projects focused on Youth

East Cleveland: Jamocha Arts College Fair

Ohio City: P.A.C.E. Tumbling Program