Healing Spaces: Documenters find healing spaces in Cleveland

This summer Cleveland Documenters interviewed 19 people across the city about their favorite healing spaces as part of the Healing Spaces environmental justice reporting project.


Angie Pohlman interviewed herself!

Angie’s location: Upper Edgewater Park

Angie Pohlman at her healing space, Edgewater Park

Describe the space. What do you see when you are in the space? What do you hear? Smell? Touch? Taste?

The thing that I like best about this spot is that you can sit here and see nothing but lake. Being near water has always had healing properties for me. You can “give” your cares to the waves. You can hear people, kids playing, someone doing yoga. You can smell whatever is on the breeze, grass, the smell of leaves in fall.  Its all very natural, “circle of life” kind of smells. The feel of the weathered picnic table is familiar and comfy.

It became a particular healing space for me last summer after a heart attack, and this was the first place I came after I came home from the hospital. When I got to the bench, I realized it was the first time I walked there without getting out of breath! Normally I would have ridden my bike there because it was easier. And I took a huge breath… it became a great place to sit and close my eyes – and breathe – and I realized that I couldn’t remember feeling this good in a long time. So it became a touch point location for me.

How did you find out about this space?

I live near the park, so I was here a lot anyway. My mom’s mom lived very close by, and I have so many memories driving by the shelter in the Upper park – I think it was built in the 20’s and has a particular kind of curved tiles – it makes me think of my Grandmother’s place because a lot of her stuff was from the 20s

What is unique about this space? Is there a story or history about this space that others should know?

The shelter house at the upper park is from the 20’s I believe.

If you have helped to create or maintain this space, tell us about any successes or challenges you have faced.

Only to the extent that I always clean up after myself!

Who else should know that this space exists?

Anyone who wants to find a space to unwind – there’s willow point on the lower park, workout trails, the new beach house, and a new playground; its a great place to bike, too.

What else do you want to tell us about this space?

It’s a great place to come and breathe and relax.

Marvetta Rutherford interviewed Fred Hardman

Fred Hardman at the community garden he founded

Fred’s location: Community garden at East 142nd  and Miles avenue

Describe the space. What do you see when you are in the space? What do you hear? Smell? Touch? Taste?

Green with traffic.. Bees buzzing if you’re  close enough to hear…honey if you would like to try it… continuation of what God did and wants man to continue… potential joy and sadness  reflections on the neighborhood when it was mixed races and many of them had gardens.

Describe the feelings you have when you are in the space?

Tranquil spiritual serene in spite of being in an urban setting. Calmness and want to pass on the knowledge to the generations to come…

What makes this space healing for you?

It allows me to teach others and relax and grow in nature.

How did you find out about this space?

The city suggested this. it was a jungle and in serious disrepair,  the previous councilman suggested.

What is unique about this space? Is there a story or history about this space that others should know?

In times past, this area was an unsightly eyesore. Drugs and other criminal activities occurred here. No one  wanted it… Hardman said he used his own resources and donations from others to get this to its present state. The city said that he qualified for grants but first had to spend the amount before they gave funds, he said. He’s on a fixed budget and declining health and does the best he can.

If you have helped to create or maintain this space, tell us about any successes or challenges you have faced.

In the six years of occupancy, the beekeeping has been successful. In the stages of the design logo and plans to get it to retail. His biggest challenge is in the various levels of the grounds.

Because he didn’t live next door he received pushback from the city. Without assistance from the councilman, this site wouldn’t exist. He wanted to buy the land and the city wanted to lease.. he waited over two years for the permission to buy.  It was a jungle when he bought it for $200.

Who else should know that this space exists?

All the neighborhood, Hardman said. He wants to create a legacy for the community.  People need to get back to controlling their own food.

What else do you want to tell us about this space?

His garden got a late start because of health concerns and lack of volunteers. The red tape he has experienced in getting help from the city has been lacking. 

Tina Scott interviewed Sheila Sampson

 

East 55th Street Pier

Sheila’s location: E. 55th Lake Erie Pier

Describe the space. What do you see when you are in the space? What do you hear? Smell? Touch? Taste?

The lake water, the wind, the fish and birds.

Describe the feelings you have when you are in the space?

Peaceful.  I feel like God is rewarding me with peace of mind.

What makes this space healing for you?

I can peacefully think about the good and not so good.

How did you find out about this space?

I live near the pier.

What is unique about this space? Is there a story or history about this space that others should know?

All kinds of people come there, it never gets real crowed and everybody seems to be there in a good mood.

If you have helped to create or maintain this space, tell us about any successes or challenges you have faced.

I clean up behind myself.  That’s all I can do.

Who else should know that this space exists?

People who want to go somewhere safe and peaceful.

What else do you want to tell us about this space?

Have small events there to feed local people can eat for free.  Have a store that real friendly for local people with cheap prices of their food and things.

Sharon Anita Ferguson interviewed Sheila Alease Lewis

Sisters Sheila and Sharon Lewis at the East 72nd Street Marina

Sheila’s location: The East 72nd Street Lakefront Marina located on Cleveland’s northeast side, bordering Lake Erie.

Describe the space. What do you see when you are in the space? What do you hear? Smell? Touch? Taste?

It is a marina and park on Lake Erie at East 72nd Street. Its official name is the  Cleveland Metroparks, Lakefront Reservation  East 72 Street Fishing Area. You may also approach the park from East 72nd and St. Clair or  go one exit west of the Liberty boulevard ramp if you come from the Cultural Gardens. It is also north of Gordon Park off East 72nd street.

At the park, there are rocks that separate the land from the lake, picnic tables, grills, and beautiful trees and grasslands. You can sit in your car or either at a picnic table or on the  grass or the rocks to just look out at the water, the sea gulls and other birds flying overhead. You can relax just looking out at the water or watching  the sail boats and the speed boats going by. On the eastern end of the park is a marina where boats are docked. There are also rest room facilities at the park’s property for your comfort. Because of the facilities, you can stay for hours. 

Describe the feelings you have when you are in the space?

I feel very peaceful there.  It is outside of the ordinary from my everyday life travels  between home and work which is often far away from the lake.  Being by the water is healing for me. It is like sitting on a beach somewhere while on vacation. It gives me a feeling of relaxation which is the reason why I like the spot. 

What makes this space healing for you?

The water, the sail boats and the birds flying overhead. It is quiet there even though there are people and cars moving about. When I go alone  I just sit in my car and look out at the lake to preserve my peace and the space. 

How did you find out about this space?

I have been coming to my healing space since I was in my 20’s. At times, I have come here to see the water or  to just be alone and out in the park.  

What is unique about this space? Is there a story or history about this space that others should know?

Driving across the Shoreway, you see nothing but the water.  The Lakefront is a place of natural beauty in the Cleveland  area. It is free of charge and there for everyone to enjoy. 

Who else should know that this space exists?

 Most Cleveland residents know about the lake, the Bratenahl area just from driving  across the Shoreway.  Most Clevelanders are also aware of the Lake and that we have beautiful beach areas like Edgewater, and Mentor Headlands.   I like the park because it also offers you the options to safely go alone,  or picnic as a family or friend group. You can also sit in your car or walk along and  just enjoy the peace and beauty.  Most people who grew up in Cleveland would say that they remember the lake vividly from their childhoods.   

What else do you want to tell us about this space?

We noted that  despite the numbers of people present, 60 or more, they were all socially distanced,  and yet the space was still amazingly quiet. It was as though everyone , even the children and teens were all so relaxed  and at peace and breathing free in nature.  

Chau Tang interviewed Jeffrey Stringfield

Jeffrey Stringfield at the UH Healing Garden in University Circle

Jeffrey’s location: Mary & Al Schneider Healing Garden. 11100 Euclid Ave. It’s connected to University Hospital. Next to The Cleveland Museum of Art. Across from Cleveland Institute of Art.

Describe the space. What do you see when you are in the space? What do you hear? Smell? Touch? Taste?

When I come into this space, visually and physically, there are a ton of trees, stones and open air. Aside from physically, when I come here, I see an empty space. A place where I can be comfortable and free my mind. I can do what I feel and say what I feel without judgment, ridicule or advice from anybody else. I can work through my own thoughts at my own time. 

Describe the feelings you have when you are in the space?

When I first came into this space, it was overwhelming. To the point where I couldn’t hold anything back. Possibly, because I’ve been holding back for so long. After the overwhelming feeling had passed and the feelings were drained out, my feelings became more joyous. I found a place to get my feelings out. I’m comfortable here, recentered and at ease. There’s no tension, buildup or guilt, you can let everything go.

What makes this space healing for you?

This place here is where my mother passed away. When I come here, I can free myself. When I’m outside of this place and in the real world, emotions come over me. I’m usually interrupted by a phone call or a friend but out here in this healing space, my phone is turned off. I’m here by myself without any distractions, no interruptions and I can let everything flow how it needs to. 

How did you find out about this space?

My mom got cancer three times so she’s been back and forth to this hospital. Six years ago, I was dating a girl who went to Case Western Reserve University so I was down here a lot. A bad breakup happened and then my mom passed. I like skateboarding down here since there’s a lot of good skate spots, good food, places to hang out and chill. What kept me down here was my mom’s spirit, my ex-girlfriend and skateboarding.

Who else should know that this space exists?

Probably everyone, specifically those who lost their loved ones to either cancer or sickness. Someone who’s looking for a solace, a place to get away, free your mind and escape from the world. If you have something on your mind, you can come here.

What else do you want to tell us about this space?

Do the maze on the ground when you come in. It’s a good one to walk and you get a lot of time to think.  

Yorel Warr interviewed Juvens Niyonzima

Juvens Niyonzima at his church

Juvens’ location: A church at 6601 Storer Ave.

Describe the space. What do you see when you are in the space? What do you hear? Smell? Touch? Taste?

I hear the word. The word helps me grow. I also play instruments.

Describe the feelings you have when you are in the space?

I feel peaceful and always find a solution to my problem.

What makes this space healing for you?

It is a place of praise and we always share positivity! 

 

How did you find out about this space?

My pastor was the same pastor I’ve had since 17. He came from Africa first and then I came.

What is unique about this space? Is there a story or history about this space that others should know?

It is a quiet place.

If you have helped to create or maintain this space, tell us about any successes or challenges you have faced.

I do cleaning and music. I also create media and livestream the service.

Who else should know that this space exists?

Anyone looking for the word of God.

What else do you want to tell us about this space?

It is a educational place as well. We have a program called Kingdom lifestyle where they teach us to manage our money and become business owners.

Angela Thomas interviewed Patricia Banks

Patricia’s location:  Her backyard in Glenville

Describe the space. What do you see when you are in the space? What do you hear? Smell? Touch? Taste?

Trees and Flowers and Stubs and Statues. My back yard I love nature. It puts more in touch with the CREATOR!  Filled with color.

Garden area birds nesting, wild life. Very serene. At night it has a calming effect. Fresh fragrance of the flowers. The touch of the petals of my flowers, very soothing.

Describe the feelings you have when you are in the space?

In touch with the CREATOR.  Feeling of relaxation. Revive and safe..I can see life. Nature is enlightenment with the CREATOR.  Rejuvenation of the rain.

What makes this space healing for you?

I can see life. Growth. Joy in the sound of the birds. It speaks to my intervening.

How did you find out about this space?

I designed it myself with healing and in mind!

What is unique about this space? Is there a story or history about this space that others should know?

All the elements in my own back yard! I can just to into my own back yard anytime. The history is that we prayed about a place or a home and it was desolate. We took nothing and created this prayer garden  Not just a back yard!

Some of the plants back here are here from my mom’s garden.

If you have helped to create or maintain this space, tell us about any successes or challenges you have faced.

At first it was just bàrren. Just rocks and dirt. Challenges were the wild life eating my vegetation. And sometimes neighbors spoil my peace.

Who else should know that this space exists?

All of my family.  My church members. Neighbors.

What else do you want to tell us about this space?

It is well shared. GOD given. Beauty of GOD in every aspect.

Tina Scott interviewed Sergeant Mills

Rockefeller Park

Sergeant’s location:  Rockefeller Park on MLK in Cleveland, OH

Describe the space. What do you see when you are in the space? What do you hear? Smell? Touch? Taste?

Peace and nature.  I am reminded of many different world countries.

Describe the feelings you have when you are in the space?

I feel that I am walking through the exterior of my home.

What makes this space healing for you?

I have walked through this park my entire childhood and much of my adult life.  It represents home for me and feels like part of what I define as home.

How did you find out about this space?

I live in the same home that’s my family home of 4 generations which is in walking distance of the park.

What is unique about this space? Is there a story or history about this space that others should know?

All the elements in my own back yard! I can just to into my own back yard anytime. The history is that we prayed about a place or a home and it was desolate. We took nothing and created this prayer garden  Not just a back yard!

Some of the plants back here are here from my mom’s garden.

If you have helped to create or maintain this space, tell us about any successes or challenges you have faced.

I have donated.

Who else should know that this space exists?

Nature lovers.  People who enjoy peaceful walks.

What else do you want to tell us about this space?

This park has always brought me peace and joy.  Lately, it has provided me comfort and a sort of companionship during the last 18 months of being physically isolated.

Lauren Colvard Hakim interviewed Lakeyia Bell

 

Lakeyia’s location:  Cleveland Metroparks

  • Euclid Creek Reservation at 850 Euclid Creek Parkway, Cleveland, OH 44121. 
  • Brookside Reservation at 3900 John Nagy Cleveland, OH 44144.

 

Lakeyia Bell’s healing space in Euclid Creek Reservation

Describe the space. What do you see when you are in the space? What do you hear? Smell? Touch? Taste?

It makes me want to walk and get active. It make me want to be in tune with God and listen to Him.   To pick up the butterfly that’s flying next to me.  Or to see a baby deer.  Or even seeing little possums running through the trees.  Things that we take for granted living in the city.  I take for granted even just driving home from work.  Things I’m not able to experience I experience in that space.

 

Describe the feelings you have when you are in the space?

I really love hiking.  I usually go to one of the reservations and hike.  Euclid Creek is actually one of the places I love the most.  Its so open, there’s the creek.  It has me in tune with nature and with God in that way.  It’s a place of healing.  I go there to sometimes cry while I’m walking.  I go there to pray when I’m walking.  I’ll listen to some of my favorite Gospel music while I’m walking.  I just really draws me in and the atmosphere so that’s really a great place of healing for me. 

What makes this space healing for you?

When you get out the car and you see the trail. Its so open and so fresh it feels like redemption is there.  You can just be yourself.  Once you start walking and you kind of get in the zone…it just draws you in.  The presence of the LORD for me as a Christian draws me in, into a sacred place.  It feels sacred even though its open.  That’s what really sets the atmosphere and the foundation for me when I’m walking.

How did you find out about this space?

I used to go a lot when I was a  kid. We would go and actually swim in the creek and everything.  Once I older and after I returned from the Peace Corps, I needed a place of therapeutic healing.  I found that walking was the most therapeutic and beneficial for me so I just started looking.  One of my goals is to is honestly try to hike or walk all the Metroparks in Cleveland.  So far I think I’ve done like four or five.  So I’m still working on it.  I just was like googling things like “hiking places in Cleveland”.  I just kind of went back to my first love of Euclid Creek just from memory and it has provided that place of solitude.  The Brookside as well is a really good place.  When I had my dog I would take her hiking there and it has a really lovely bridge.  It’s just one of those there where I’m like “I love this space.” 

Who else should know that this space exists?

I really want my sister Sharnina to come and be more in that space with me.  As a Black woman and especially the health disparities that us as Black women face just from obesity and diabetes, walking is so beneficial to your soul and to your spirit, but also to your body.   I feel like a walking space where women are coming together even to maybe cry is so therapeutic and I would love to see more women of color in that space. Just women in general in that space.  Especially women of faith for me because it does really set this foundation of sacrecy with the LORD.  So it would be really cool to see like a spiritual women’s walking group.  There’s Girl Trek which I’ve been a part of before and they have been really beneficial.  But I would love to see something even more concrete and to faith because I believe just as Jesus walked He also gave us the command to walk and use our beautiful feet.   Just kind of coming together in that way would be fantastic. 

What else do you want to tell us about this space?

Walking is so beneficial.  It really ignites your creativity.  It ignites your spirit.  I really encourage people to at least do it two times out of the week if they can. Its such a time that we can’t get back.  When you’re walking it’s kind of like time slows down a little bit. With this pandemic and with the things of the world right now, slowing down and just kind of really hearing from your Creator is what’s so important. 

Dorothy Ajamu interviewed her mom Annette Flenoy

 

Annette’s healing space: her front porch

Annette’s location:  Her Front porch, located on Eddy road.  

Describe the space. What do you see when you are in the space? What do you hear? Smell? Touch? Taste?

I see cars and people walking. I hear noise. I smell trees and grass.

Describe the feelings you have when you are in the space?

A relaxed feeling.

What makes this space healing for you?

Being in that space alone.

How did you find out about this space?

It’s attached to the building that I live in.

What is unique about this space? Is there a story or history about this space that others should know?

Nothing really unique about, just a space that’s there.

If you have helped to create or maintain this space, tell us about any successes or challenges you have faced.

I do not help maintain it.

Who else should know that this space exists?

I consider it my little space so I hope no one else realize it exists!

Marvetta Rutherford interviewed AkuSika Nkomo-Mackey

Aku’s garden in Hough

AkuSika’s location:  East 81st Street between Hough and Linwood avenues

Describe the space. What do you see when you are in the space? What do you hear? Smell? Touch? Taste?

I love waking up and looking down upon my healing space. It’s beautiful and lifts my spirit.

Describe the feelings you have when you are in the space?

Lifting my spirits and at peace when I am there outdoors in the air and trees.. satisfaction in helping to create it..

What makes this space healing for you?

Everything.

How did you find out about this space?

Great Grandmother owned this building and the land.. acquired in 1984. The structure was slated for demolition.

What is unique about this space? Is there a story or history about this space that others should know?

It was condemned when she moved in.

If you have helped to create or maintain this space, tell us about any successes or challenges you have faced.

The loss of her husband Mr. Mackey and her son were challenges. Her solar tribute to her husband is ongoing and her son has a garden area dedicated to his life….  this building is historical and needs work. Aku Sika manifested patience and perseverance to manifest what we see today, Marvetta said.

Who else should know that this space exists?

It’s an non profit organization. Anyone who is interested in youth and community building, designing green space should know this space exists.

What else do you want to tell us about this space?

Its been a labor of love I want to encourage and inspire others to as well…

Gennifer Harding-Gosnell interviewed Gwendolyn Garth

 

Gwen’s garden in Central

Gwen’s location:  NW corner E. 36th and Central Ave. 

Describe the space. What do you see when you are in the space? What do you hear? Smell? Touch? Taste?

Traffic, people in the neighborhood.

Describe the feelings you have when you are in the space?

Peace. Accomplishment. Belonging. Spirituality.

What makes this space healing for you?

Me. I was born in the country, and the outside, the land, does something for me. I take after my father, who was part Native American, it just does something for me. I think it does it for everybody.

How did you find out about this space?

Lives in the neighborhood.

What is unique about this space? Is there a story or history about this space that others should know?

I had several spiritual moments here, myself and my spiritual advisor have held gatherings here. 

If you have helped to create or maintain this space, tell us about any successes or challenges you have faced.

The Western Reserve Tree Conservatory has planted 13 trees in the space. The neighbor, no respect for the land, they were trying to park their cars on my land, so I put up trees next to the drive and kind of blocked it.

Who else should know that this space exists?

I’ve had Common Grounds conversations here, I’ve had a lot of meetings here. 

What else do you want to tell us about this space?

I’ve seen some great tire art, I’d like to get someone in here to do that, I’d love to have them border the space, they make reptiles and other animals. I’d like to plant some herbs, and put up some murals, make it a Central Walk of Fame (i.e. Stokes brothers) 

Chau Tang interviewed Lamar Miller

Lamar Miller at Edgewater Pier

Lamar’s location:  Edgewater Pier  (6500 Cleveland Memorial Shoreway, Cleveland, OH 44102)

Describe the space. What do you see when you are in the space? What do you hear? Smell? Touch? Taste?

I come over here to think, meditate and enjoy the better side of Cleveland. I love the wind here. You smell the air and it’s like home. The smell of Cleveland.

Describe the feelings you have when you are in the space?

I feel blush, sometimes sad that I have nobody to share it with. It’s a mix of emotions. I think it’s related to my life situations more so than my safe space.

What makes this space healing for you?

I meditate here when I’m not feeling great. I ask people for forgiveness and I wish them well.

How did you find out about this space?

I grew up in Cleveland. My family used to come to Edgewater beach for a long time.

Who else should know that this space exists?

People who need to heal and have a space where they can appreciate the environment for what it is. It’s home.

What else do you want to tell us about this space?

If you look out in the distance, the water is darker. It’s because that’s where it stops.  The brown water is from slight pollution from the water. When you go further out, it’s blue. Lake Eric is known for its walleye and perch. 

Marvetta Rutherford interviewed Sara Continenza

Coit road across from the Coit Road Farmers Market

Sara’s location:  Coit and Woodworth Avenue (Collinwood)

Describe the space. What do you see when you are in the space? What do you hear? Smell? Touch? Taste?

Accomplishment and more to do…

Describe the feelings you have when you are in the space?

Peace, accomplishments feeling that I have helped to beautify Cleveland.

What makes this space healing for you?

Being around things that the community and I helped grow. helping others gain knowledge about how to grow.

How did you find out about this space?

Been a partner with the Coit Road Farmers market since 2016 its on their land.

What is unique about this space? Is there a story or history about this space that others should know?

Coit Road Farmers Market has a long history of service to the citizens since 1930’s a great testament … the current community is a direct result of the racially restrictive policies were used in the 1900’s and still in use. Nowadays Digital Redlining is prevalent and has created great divides. This market is only open on Wednesday and Saturday but the importance of fresh local foods is the draw card. People are trying to get by and many have limited access to fresh produce.. also many people are not aware of the incentives if they are on the SNAP program.

If you have helped to create or maintain this space, tell us about any successes or challenges you have faced.

The area very over grown and overrun. Unkept is an understatement Weeds and trash had to be dealt with. Pests and other animals as well, humans who have chosen to vandalize is an issue.. Littering are just some that come to mind..  Funding issues are a great challenge as well. We are building towards staff etc.

Who else should know that this space exists?

Community its takes everyone youth and elderly.

What else do you want to tell us about this space?

We incorporate the arts into this space as well. Visual stimulation help to beautify the area and lend a voice to the participants… a direct voice for the youth. Mobility gardens will allow wheelchair gardening and others with disabilities to get in touch with nature and grow food.

Marvetta Rutherford interviewed Veronica Walton

Veronica’s healing space: her farm stand on Superior avenue

Veronica’s location:  East 105 southwest corner of Superior Avenue in Glenville

Veronica is the founder and food educator at Food Depot to Health. 

Describe the space. What do you see when you are in the space? What do you hear? Smell? Touch? Taste?

From the outside one might wonder what is a barn like structure doing in the middle of the East Side, but inside the doors you’ll find a vast array of possibilities… you hear the chatter of happy people.. and depending on your desires you can taste a plethora of things…

Describe the feelings you have when you are in the space?

Peace and Unity

What makes this space healing for you?

From fresh produce to raw herbs to body treats such as custom creams and soaps, home decor and linens.

Handmade Custom Jewelry of various prices points and much much more.

How did you find out about this space?

State of Ohio and Famicos serves as fiscal agent as they inherited the space from another firm..  Famicos and the Waltons have partnered in years past as they hosted the Outdoor Farmers Market at the corner of East 105th and Ashbury Avenue.

What is unique about this space? Is there a story or history about this space that others should know?

The selection and diversity of vendors its a plethora of services and products that came together rather quickly after the go ahead. The structure has been open a very short time this year.  Theres classes for the people to learn about different things like Vermocomposting.  The structure exterior has been up for several years but interior issues kept cropping up before the city would issue an occupancy permit. 

If you have helped to create or maintain this space, tell us about any successes or challenges you have faced.

The various construction issues delayed the opening… now the challenges are to get the word out and get and keep loyal customers satisfied and becoming community.

Who else should know that this space exists?

Everyone should know about the services and products offered here.

What else do you want to tell us about this space?

The plan is to be in Operation this calendar year until after the holidays. March 2022 is the scheduled open date. Eventually they would like to be open year round. Especially if the winter is mild. There is senior building directly across the street. And frankly there’s no other supermarket for 16 blocks.

Mckenzie Merriman interviewed Abigail Skully

Abigail at Fairview Park

Abigail’s location:  City of Cleveland Fairview Park located in between W. 38th and W. 32nd at Franklin and Whitman.

Describe the space. What do you see when you are in the space? What do you hear? Smell? Touch? Taste?

Splash park, pavilion, playground, massive community garden, massive field, picnic tables, benches, trees, huge Baseball Diamond… Smells like a beautiful 75 degree day, end of summer/beginning of fall, fresh and outdoorsy. Very fun at the park; children from Near West Intergenerational School are there for recess. We hear the sounds of kids laughing, playing, screaming, teachers will chime in. Playing games. Cars on franklin but it’s pretty removed, it feels like an oasis honestly cause the bigger roads are shielded. Eating a chocolate brownie Cliff bar, so that’s what it tastes like…. to give some texture I stopped at W. 65th Rite Aid… I took a nice route, stopped at the Labyrinth Garden at Franklin Ave. and W. 65th St. Took the Franklin Express… I feel special about it!

Describe the feelings you have when you are in the space?

Right now I feel like specifically in this space, I feel healed. Calmed/at ease/relaxed… happy and that there are fun things to do because the park ins the best. I feel like anything could happen at the park. It’s a place to go to find something fun to do or to think about things or to reflect or to meet your friends or to meet your family. I feel a sense of possibility from the park

What makes this space healing for you?

You know this space is dear to me because of my past. That’s part of what makes it healing for me. The sense of community that is evident in the park…. and remembering how much this park have given me.

How did you find out about this space?

When we were young, we met at Near West Theatre. That’s where I grew up, basically. I joined this community when I was a young teen and into my early 20’s in this community. This park was one of the central locations for that community in that the (old) building for the theatre is near here.

What is unique about this space? Is there a story or history about this space that others should know?

The interviewers house is very near here… we organized these afternoons of fun at this park. When we were a pack of rowdy teenagers, every Sunday we would have to get to the theatre early anyways to practice to we all decided to get there even earlier and bum around and go to Wendy’s and go to this park. It doesn’t sound like much maybe, but it really takes a lot to get like 20 teens  together like that , but we just fell in line because we wanted to play kickball, and red rover and other games. We would talk and learn how to be human beings, socializing for the first time semi effectively. I can’t help but think about those times here. I’m been coming to this park since 15+ years ago, and that’s what it means to me. That’s how it heals me. 

If you have helped to create or maintain this space, tell us about any successes or challenges you have faced.

I was doing that when I was helping to organize Afternoon of Fun…15 years ago as a goofy teenager who didn’t know what I was doing, I kind was learning about one of my talents, which is bringing people together. But I haven’t done that for years… the most I do for this park now is just come here and act like my sweet self.

Who else should know that this space exists?

This whole new generation. A close friend’s two nephews live right around the corner, and I had the wonderful experience of bringing the two babies to the splash park and it was really fun. It keep going., it’s great. I hope that anyone on the west side of Cleveland knows about this park… but anyone in the Cleveland area should know about it cause it’s worth the trip if you’re from east or south side. If you’re passionate about Cleveland park vibes…. If you love a great, beautiful park…. one of the great things we have are the City of Cleveland parks and recreation department. Any Clevelander that loves public spaces, beautiful parks, and green spaces, having a fun day out, should check out Fairview Park in my opinion. 

What else do you want to tell us about this space?

On the way over here, I was thinking about gentrification. It’s not the fault of the space, the space is material, it’s literally just itself. All I can do is tell a little story that relates to that material space. Spaces get changed by the people that are in them. It’s evident when you drive from one neighborhood to the other how much has changed as a result of ravenous capitalism.  You can see, Cudell is about to get gentrified. Ohio City is far gone. You can feel fancier store fronts, nicer restaurants bougier liquor stores, those are just facts. That’s bad because it displaces people. We should make our neighborhoods better and prettier for everyone, not a certain few, not a certain privileged few that can afford $450,000 two bedroom hours. However; Fairview Park seems to be right in the swing of things. It looks like people still feel like they can come here and be a city person, do whatever they feel like, like stuff fancy people think is weird or bad. 

Gennifer Harding-Godsnell & Keith Yurgionas interviewed Scott Blanchard, communications director of Trinity Cathedral 

Trinity Cathedral, 2230 Euclid Ave.

Scott’s location:  Trinity Cathedral, 2230 Euclid Ave.

Describe the space. What do you see when you are in the space? What do you hear? Smell? Touch? Taste?

We’re right in the middle of an urban area. You can hear city wildlife (crickets, birds) interspersed the sounds of the city (car horns, sirens). Thinks of it as an urban oasis. When it calms down, you wouldn’t even know you were in the heart of the city.

Describe the feelings you have when you are in the space?

Restful. People find peace here. Had church services in the garden 8:30 every Sunday outdoors since the beginning of the pandemic. 

What makes this space healing for you?

Peace, tranquility. Homeless in the area sleep here, makes it a restful place for them. For the last 30 years, we have a weekly community meal, many people will be here around that time. People will grab a to-go meal and eat there.  

How did you find out about this space?

Scott works as the communications director for the church. 

What is unique about this space? Is there a story or history about this space that others should know?

The garden was initially created by Elizabeth Mather, wife of William Mather, who also founded the Cleveland Botanical Garden. 

If you have helped to create or maintain this space, tell us about any successes or challenges you have faced.

Maintained once a week, trimmed, watered, has an irrigation system now. 

Who else should know that this space exists?

All are welcome, anyone downtown, students and professors at CSU, people going to events at the Wolstein Center, we definitely want everyone to take advantage of the peace and tranquility here. 

What else do you want to tell us about this space?

Many different people currently utilize the space, from the homeless to downtown workers.  

Gennifer Harding-Godsnell & Keith Yurgionas interviewed Scott Blanchard, Communications Director of Trinity Cathedral (Part 2)

 

Trinity Cathedral Charles Comella Community Garden in Central

Scott’s location:  SE corner of E. 35th St. and Cedar Rd.  

Describe the space. What do you see when you are in the space? What do you hear? Smell? Touch? Taste?

Crops are currently in full bloom, they combine and create a smell that makes you hungry. Tomatoes, yellow squash, etc.  

Describe the feelings you have when you are in the space?

Feelings of peacefulness, excitement when we get to feed people, Many of our volunteers have been here for many years. We have special spots dedicated to volunteers who have passed away. 

What makes this space healing for you?

No. 1 mission is to grow as much food as possible and give it to people in need, so we hope it is healing to people in the neighborhood. The food is staying right here in this neighborhood. We have piece and tranquility here. We grow herbs here, herbs in and of themselves are healing, so are the flowers that grow here at different times of year. 

How did you find out about this space?

Scott is the communications director of the church. He wanted to help the Hunger Program at the church by starting an urban garden. Ohio State University Extension runs a program called Summer Sprout, helps 150 different gardens throughout the city, get seeds, equipment etc. for free. I called OSU and they said they had a place for us. This has been used as a garden in the past, lain fallow for several years, and was restarted by Trinity 16 years ago.   

What is unique about this space? Is there a story or history about this space that others should know?

Official name is Trinity Cathedral Charles Comella Community Garden, as a tribute to Comella, the owner of Cadillac Music, and friend of neighbourhood resident Father Jim O’Donnell. Comella was the property owner, and allowed O’Donnell to use the land. The Comella family remains supportive.  

If you have helped to create or maintain this space, tell us about any successes or challenges you have faced.

We’ve had many challenges over the years. Last year, rabbits ate the green beans, so this year we put up chickenwire. Flea beetles will eat collard greens, so we use a special fabric covering to keep the beetles out. We’ve had troubles with people taking things out of the garden. The neighbors like what we’re doing and support us, so they keep an eye out during the week.  

Who else should know that this space exists?

We’ve been established for a long time and well-known, so we have a lot of groups who want to come help out, we have a group from the Cleveland Clinic, CSU, any organization is welcome to volunteer here. 

What else do you want to tell us about this space?

Central is a very old community, and has been somewhat neglected. We hope our urban garden helps revitalise the area, and that the people can benefit from what we’re doing here. 

Marvetta Rutherford interviewed Veronica Walton (Part 2)

 

Market garden on Superior avenue

Veronica’s location:  Superior West of E. 79th  Street, North Side of the street

Describe the space. What do you see when you are in the space? What do you hear? Smell? Touch? Taste?

Flowers, produce and herbs to name a few

Describe the feelings you have when you are in the space?

Most often peaceful relaxed. 

What makes this space healing for you?

Vitamin D outdoors fresh air…

How did you find out about this space?

City of Cleveland back in 2010

What is unique about this space? Is there a story or history about this space that others should know?

Vacant land grassy field that she and her husband converted into a Market Gardening site

If you have helped to create or maintain this space, tell us about any successes or challenges you have faced.

That transformation as well as community buy-in. Successes are community engagement from all age groups preschool to retired. 

Who else should know that this space exists?

League Park Market Place is here for customers, youth groups, families any kind of groups that  are interested in sustainable lifestyles

What else do you want to tell us about this space?

WE NEED MORE OF THEM and take into consideration the people who live nearby.

 

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