A truer narrative of who we are
Too many times, I’ve heard people complain about how the Heights is portrayed in the media. It’s the bad things that get all the press—a string of break-ins occurs in our neighborhoods, a violent “flash mob” erupts during a street festival, a dog is shot in our park. Are these the things that define us?
I’m happy to say that they do not, and that our residents are taking it upon themselves to weave a different narrative—one that speaks of all the good things that happen here everyday.
Peter Block, a resident of Cincinnati and author of several books on community building, said recently at a seminar I attended, “Our job is to reconstruct the narrative of who we are as a community. Don’t hold anyone else responsible for who we are.”
The Heights Observer uses a citizen-journalism model to publish stories that come from, and are written by, the community. It is published by FutureHeights, a nonprofit that seeks to build a vibrant and sustainable Heights community through civic engagement. What you see in these pages is what residents send us. It’s what the community wants to write about.
In this issue, you’ll read about residents who seek to make the Heights more dog-friendly, two local playwrights, championship spellers, entrepreneurs who have started unique businesses here, hockey players, figure skaters and swimmers, neighbors who will break ground on a new community garden on a vacant lot this spring, and much more.
None of it is breaking news, but together the stories, told by many different voices, affirm what many of us know to be true. We live in an interesting place, with creative and resourceful people, who are actively involved in making it even better. These are the stories we want to hear. This is a truer narrative of who we are.
The first issue of the Heights Observer published on April 10, 2008, and next month we will celebrate its fifth anniversary. When we started, we had many goals and aspirations, and being the voice of the community was among them. We do this, not through constant reminders of our faults, nor by editorializing about what should be, but rather by amplifying the strengths that are already here.
Help us celebrate five years on April 18, when we bring to town Peter Pula of Axiom News, a Canadian-based news agency that uses the power of appreciative inquiry to “look for stories that have the capacity to give the community life instead of focusing on its woundedness.” And, in the meantime, keep sending us your stories.
Deanna Bremer Fisher
Deanna Bremer Fisher is executive director of FutureHeights and publisher of the Heights Observer.