Place Matters gives residents tools to transform their communities

Hillary Copsey of Soapbox Cincinnati:

“Place Matters has spent the last decade giving residents the tools they need to transform their communities because they know the places we call home matter.

Place Matters tackles neighborhood health and safety through creative placemaking, often using art and events to bring people together. An example is Price Hill Will, the lead Place Matters agency in Price Hill on Cincinnati’s west side, which has successfully united its diverse families around MYCincinnati, a free youth orchestra program. The orchestra and its home, the Warsaw Avenue Firehouse, are the center of family life for every part of the community — new residents, the growing Hispanic community and longtime white and black residents. Some parents even have started learning instruments alongside their children, and other parents have formed clubs after meeting at MYCincinnati rehearsals and concerts.
“Price Hill does community engagement right,” says Tamara Thrasher, whose two children participate in MYCincinnati.

Whether through programs like MYCincinnati or community events like the Five Points Alley clean-up and mural painting in Walnut Hills, Place Matters initiatives have proven over the past 10 years that good things happen when you bring residents together to celebrate their community.

“It’s that one-on-one relationship,” says Walnut Hills resident Kathryne Gardette. “You see these people. You may not know what street they live on. You may not know all the details of their day. You may not even know their name. But you cross them in the neighborhood, and you can celebrate being neighbors.”

Place Matters also gives community leaders a chance to highlight positive aspects of their neighborhood. When a community needs improvement — if houses are vacant or crime is visible — residents tend toward complaints when they get together. Events and programs that take advantage of a neighborhood’s assets change that.

“It gives us the opportunity to have a different kind of conversation about Avondale,” says Avondale Comprehensive Development Corporation board member Henry Brown.”

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