Hough: A Short Look to the Past, a Long Look to the Future; A Night at Grand River Cellars winery
On Monday, September 19th, we went to the City Club for a program titled "Hough: A Short Look to the Past, a Long Look to the Future" where we met several people who had attended events that we had also attended.
First of all, we talked to Ms. Gail Long, a retired social worker who used to work at the Merrick House in Tremont. We learned that she had spent the entire weekend volunteering at the Tremont Arts and Cultural Festival where we had tabled. Then we talked to Sister Rita Mary Harwood who was at the "Faith and Culture 2016" event at the Center for Pastoral Leadership on Friday and at the Sisters of Notre Dame BBQ on Sunday. When we sat down to lunch, we shared a table with Mr. Brian J. Smith, Director of Strategic Project Development at the Cleveland Clinic who remembered that we had met last October when we attended a fundraiser for "Helping Hands for Honduras" in Mentor.
A large part of the reason that we were at this event was we attended a fundraiser at the Vineyards at Chateau Hough at the beginning of August put on by Mr. Mansfield Frazier who inspired us to learn more about the Hough neighborhood which is located along the midtown corridor on Cleveland's east side. In fact it was announced that day that the City Club would conduct a tour of the Hough on October 7th, and it was expected to end at the Vineyards where wine just might be available.
Prior to the start of the program, City Club CEO Mr. Dan Moulthrop reviewed the history of the Hough which was deeply affected by the impact of the riot back in the 1966's.
The program, itself, was in the form of a panel discussion consisting of Mr. Rick Jackson from Ideastream interviewing panelists about their own experiences and aspirations for the Hough neighborhood. These panelists were Mr. Freddy L. Collier, Jr., Director of the Cleveland City Planning Commission; Ms. Carolyn Watts Allen, former Cleveland Public Safety Director; and Mr. Barry Withers, Assistant Public Safety Director for Cleveland.
Mr. Collier spoke of how the Hough was regarded as a "fringe neighborhood" located in the proximity of areas of "significant investment." He said that the challenge was how to attract investment to the Hough neighborhood in order to revitalize it without compromising the lives of people already living there or the distinct flavor of the vicinity. The key is the formation of partnerships along with the establishment of "equity embedded in decision-making and investment."
Ms. Watts Allen spoke about how proud she was to work for former Mayor Michael White who along with the late Cleveland City Councilperson Fannie Lewis were powerful forces for revitalizing the Hough. In order to be part of the administration, Ms. Watts Allen had to live within Cleveland so she talked about how her family, along with that of Mr. Withers and about 18 other families managed to secure the funding from Third Federal Bank to build new, expensive houses and move into the Hough around 1990. This was not an easy task-several lenders had turned them down claiming that building such houses in that area was not a wise investment.
Mr. Withers concurred saying that it was very important that the naysayers be shown that the Hough had the potential to be a home to working people of all incomes.
Indeed, all of the panelists agreed that the ultimate goal would be to have families of all income and cultural backgrounds living in the Hough. Along these lines, we mentioned that immigrants and refugees might make a positive impact on the area and the panelists indicated that all would be welcomed. Ms. Watts Allen praised the work of Father Bob Marva of St. Agnes/Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church for providing an excellent place for conversation as well as being "the core for services" in that community.
Near the end of the Q and A, a student asked what was the panel's vision for the Hough in 20 years.
Mr. Withers said that he would love to hear his grandchild say that he would love to live in the Hough when he/she got older. Moreover, he would love to watch a food program on TV that would people walking through the Hough stopping off at various restaurants and stores. He looked forward to seeing the Hough possess the "flavors and colors of a vibrant community."
Ms. Watts Allen said that she hoped it would be a place of great diversity of income and cultures where all amenities would be accessible to its residents. In the course of the conversation, Mr. Collier indicated that this was certainly his goal also.
What's more Watts Allen hoped that she would never again hear a young person say that he/she would never go to the Hough neighborhood. She hears this even today; it is very important that the perception of the Hough be changed.
On Monday night we went to the Grand River Cellars winery in Madison for a benefit to the Madison Public Library. We already knew Ms. Nancy Currie, the library director but we enjoyed meeting other dedicated library staffers who were working hard to make sure that all of the attendees had a good time. Among these were Ms. Karen Gates who is in charge of public relations and Mr. Joe Phommavichit, the youth program assistant. Serving the red wine was Ms. Melanie Lyttle, head of public services, while Mr. Sean Walsh, emerging services and technologies, served the white wine.
We shared a table with Mr. Paul and Ms. Cindy Goda, a retired couple who had lived in Lake County for many years. We told them that we worked for Margaret W. Wong and Associates and discussed current trends in immigration.
Entertainment was provided by Mr. Alex Bevan who played the guitar and sang songs from all genres. He has been a professional musician for most of his life and likes to entertain at community functions. \
When it was time for raffles and door prizes, Ms. Currie announced that "just shy of 150 people" were in attendance and everyone there considered the evening a great success. Over the years we have learned that people often disagree on political issues and even on matters concerning schools and education but it is a safe bet that they will come together in support of libraries as they did on this occasion.
Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC