Guest blog post by Ms. Roshawn Sample, Assistant Executive Director, Union Miles Development Corporation
The Union Miles Development Corporation works to improve the quality of life in Union Miles through community engagement, housing and economic development. One tool we use to accomplish our mission is community building through neighborhood beautification and green neighborhood development.
Many residents have complained over the years that the Union Miles area has no identity. Union Miles is nestled between three large neighborhoods; and at times has been confused as one of them. We want to change that and give residents what they want and deserve.
The Cleveland Foundation’s support will help the Union Miles Development Corporation begin the implementation of the Union Miles Griot.
A “Griot” encompasses many roles, and they have been referred to as historians and storytellers, but there is no real word that includes all the functions of a Griot. Using a culturally relevant approach to produce creative products and tell stories in the tradition of the African Griot, Union Miles Development Corporation will brand the neighborhood while sharing the rich history of the neighborhood.
Various markers will present a variety of access points for people with diverse backgrounds and experiences, creating deeper connections between people, place and time. Markers will be placed with clear visible signage at East 131st, East 116th and 93rd Harvard intersections, Union-Miles points of entry.
This community-based work will create permanent fixtures of aesthetic value and place-making. Local artists and residents will work together to express stories, preserving the rich histories that exist within our community.
The results from these efforts will hopefully engender love and investment in community, but the crafted stories will create connections between neighbors that ease the perceptions of intergenerational and interethnic tensions that currently exist within the Union Miles neighborhood and Southeast side of Cleveland.
Union Miles Griot project will keep alive the neighborhood’s distinctive character. It will assist us to develop greater awareness, pride and concern for neighborhood preservation. We believe all neighborhoods should tell a story, reflecting their pivotal past and vision for the future. Each neighborhood is diverse, and has something different to offer.
Griot is simply telling the story of the community, leaving information behind on landmarks, places and structures that are a contributing factor in the neighborhood. The Southeast Side will benefit tremendously from this effort, and it will bring new residents and create hope among invested homeowners. Thank you Cleveland Foundation!
Photo © Union Miles Development Corporation