Sweets on the Streets

If you happened to drive by the corner of E. Main St. and S. Champion Ave. on a Thursday afternoon this winter, you may have seen an interesting spectacle. Since February, a group of volunteers from the neighborhood has passed out cookies and hot cocoa on the corner of Main and Champion every Thursday from 2:30-4. The goal? Simply to do something positive on a corner notorious for negative activity.

So far the initiative has received a variety of responses, from the wary “you’re really giving these out for free…no strings attached?” looks to the big eyed, eager toddlers waiting to board the bus with their parents. By far the most encouraging interaction we’ve had came from a local resident. After only a few weeks of the effort, he stopped by the table and asked with an incredulous face, “How did you do it?”. We told him we really had no idea we’d done anything, other than add some calories to a few people’s diets. He replied, “This corner used to always have drug deals, but now there’s not. How did you do it?” It turns out cookies and a few hours of our time may be more powerful than we ever imagined.

Now that spring is here, the group has switched to lemonade and will be moving the time to Fridays from 4-5:30, but the purpose remains the same: to get to know our neighbors, to be a force for positive change, and to increase the safety of our neighborhood. If you would like to be a part of their efforts by either passing out cookies  on Friday afternoons or making cookies please contact Courtney Rowland at 614-252-3157 x124 or crowland@cchouse.org.


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Knowing your neighbors, a rare gift

Before I moved into the Near East Side a few months ago, I knew exactly one of my neighbors, and even that might be a stretch. I really didn’t know much of anything about the couple next door except for their names.

I hadn’t thought much about this until I managed to get out of the house for a bit on an unusually warm day a few weeks ago. As I walked the dog through the neighborhood I found myself waving at people on their porches and stopping to chat with other residents in the area. Suddenly, I realized I knew not only my closest neighbors, but neighbors from several streets over. And I knew more than just their names too.

I lived in my last apartment for a year and a half and I never had a neighbor over for dinner or went to a neighbor’s house for a party. We didn’t have Wednesdays on the Porch or Cocktails at the Conservatory or gardening nights or Mardi Gras parties in my old neighborhood. But we have that here.

I think it’s something we take for granted, that you know the people you live closest too. But I can share from experience that what we have here is a rare gift. It means something to be able to wave to your neighbors and call them by name when you walk by. It means something when a resident calls you up to make sure you’re okay when they hear gunshots down the street. This community is special and it is these relationships which will continue to help it grow, change, and flourish.

So take some time to walk around on a warm afternoon. Join a block watch or a civic association. Invite a neighbor over for lunch. Come out for Sweets on the Streets or an Open Mic at Urban Spirit. And don’t forget to show some love to our business neighbors too! Stop into one of our new restaurants–like Portico, Smothered Gravy, or Angry Baker–and get to know the owners. It’s an investment that’s well worth your time and energy.

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Central Community House turns 75!

This year marks Central Community House’s 75th Anniversary. Since 1936 Central Community House has maintained a “quiet tradition of caring” on the Near East side of Columbus. Like the neighborhood which surrounds it, Central Community House has changed and grown over the past 75 years. Through it all, Central has remained an anchor for neighborhood activities and resources. Today, Central Community House acts as a neighborhood hub, providing services such as child care, tax assistance, activities for seniors, after school programs, and so much more. Most importantly, Central continues to be a place where neighbors can gather, meet, and support each other in a safe and welcoming environment.

To celebrate its 75th Anniversary, Central Community House will be hosting several neighborhood events throughout the year. As part of the celebration, we are inviting community members to share memories or stories about Central Community House with us. If you’ve been a neighbor, a summer camper, a staff member, or had any other part in the work and life of this organization and would like to share a story please submit it to crowland@cchouse.org. We will be compiling and sharing these stories throughout the year at various different events.

Stay tuned for information about upcoming events honoring Central Community House’s 75th Anniversary!

If you would like to learn more about Central Community House’s history, please visit: http://cchouse.org/CCHHistory.pdf.

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Mardi Gras Ball

Join Old Oaks Civic Association for their 9th Annual Mardi Gras Ball!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

7 PM to 1 AM

654 Wilson Ave.

Tickets are $10/guest and include a mask, beads, all you can eat Cajun food, and one complimentary cocktail. Additional drinks will be available for $2 each. There will be a 50/50 cash raffle at 11 PM.

Festive attire or Mardi Gras costumes are encouraged for a chance to win the King and Queen Prize!

Please RSVP to Gaby Mohler at 614-668-0255. Invite your friends and neighbors!


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Cocoa on the Corner

The very first Cocoa on the Corner will be held Thursday, February 3rd from 2:30-4:30 at the corner of E. Main St. and S. Champion Ave. We’ll be serving up hot drinks, homemade cookies, and great conversation. This is a great way to meet your neighbors and warm up on a chilly day!

If you can’t make it this Thursday come on out any other Thursday in February. We’ll be out every week at the same time. So come enjoy a homemade cookie and a cup of hot cocoa on the corner with us!

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Interfaith Candlelight Vigil

There will be a candlelight prayer vigil for Richard Smith in front of his home at 607 S. Champion Ave. Columbus, OH 43205 this Saturday, January 22nd at 4 PM. Please continue to keep the Smith family in your prayers and join us on Saturday to show your support.

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Block Watch page added!

Check out the new Block Watch page added to the blog. On this page, you’ll find information about all the block watches operating here on the near-East side. Block watches allow residents to play an active role in preventing and deterring crime in their neighborhoods. Through block watches, residents have the opportunity to voice their concerns, share strategies for improving the neighborhood, and build relationships with city police.

Most importantly, block watches are an opportunity to get to know your neighbors. Relationships among neighbors enhance safety by ensuring that residents have eyes and ears on the street. By joining a block watch, you can be sure other neighbors are looking out for you and the community! Check out a block watch near you and start making a difference in your area.

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