When I graduated from my Northeast Ohio high school, I had no idea what my future would be like, but I did know that I wanted to get out of Ohio. I was enamored by the idea of living in New York City or San Francisco and building a life in a glitzy coastal city full of young professionals. Rhode Island was my first step in that direction as I began my undergraduate studies at Brown University. My first year was about exploration of new people and a new place, and I found myself in casual conversations with students from all over the country and all over the world about regional idiosyncrasies: “Do you call it pop or do you call it soda?” I joined a singing group that regularly travelled all over New England and toured Texas, Mexico, and parts of Europe. In the meantime, I found myself drawn to classes on urban revitalization, city politics, and urban history, and my experiences in Ohio served as a comparison to the cities we discussed in class. By the beginning of my junior year, I realized that I was actually quite proud to have had a different upbringing from many of my peers in college, and that my home region of Northeast Ohio was an inspiration to me. I decided that I wanted to take everything I had learned in my time away from home and return to Cleveland to make a difference in Northeast Ohio.
My experiences as a Cleveland Foundation intern this summer have been truly remarkable and I feel honored to have had the privilege of working with so many great people. I have been stationed for the last few weeks with LAND studio, an organization that works on a broad range of projects involving public art, public parks, and public spaces. I have been lucky to meet renowned public artists and key stakeholders in Cleveland’s public and nonprofit community, and I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about and assisting with the Group Plan, which involves the redesign of Public Square and the Mall. The projects I see happening all around Cleveland, both inside LAND studio’s portfolio and outside, validate my decision to come back. I believe in Northeast Ohio and I am excited that I am able to play some part in making my community the best place it can be.
Each week we use this space to give each of our interns a chance to reflect on their internship experiences. Austin is a graduate student from Cleveland State University. Placement: LAND Studio