Community Development and Urban Renewal is a class offered at Hawken School. Because of the school’s unique schedule — three week immersion courses both before winter break and summer — this class was able to thrive. Hawken School has a third campus in addition to its Lyndhurst and Gates Mills campuses, called the Gries Center, which is located in University Circle. CDUR took full advantage of this location. The class was able to really interact with the surrounding neighborhoods. For the first week, the class had an expedition. Everyone had to find a way to get to Ohio City from the Gries Center using public transportation. Once we reached Ohio City, we backpacked around the town interviewing local people to find their opinions on the city.
At the end of the first week, the class began a new project called Neighbor Circles. Neighbor Circles meets three times, and during these sessions the people from the neighborhood get to know each other and eventually think of ways to improve their neighborhood. We had the chance to be involved and hear the opinions of people who actually live in these neighborhoods. The class was split into three groups, and each group was assigned a different neighborhood that was close to the Gries Center: Glenville, Fairfax and East Cleveland. All the people we met had great ideas and were excited that young people, like us, were noticing the importance of building up our city’s neighborhoods. In my neighborhood, there haven’t been any initiatives to improve the community, so being a part of the Neighbor Circles was very exciting for me. It is refreshing to see people who want to be so active in their neighborhood and are more than willing to take action.
This article was written by Hawken student Kathleen Graham. Read Hawken student Chelsea Bonner's article here.