Noble Neighbors celebrates two years
Momentum characterized Noble Neighbors’ second year as a volunteer group focused on the northeast quadrant of Cleveland Heights.
Students from Case Western Reserve University’s Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences conducted a survey of the neighborhood in the spring. Paired with residents of the district, several serendipitous outcomes surfaced. Both residents and students noted the neighborhood’s architectural variety and the excellent condition of most of its homes. Some students declared that they would like to move to the area when they graduated. With its schools, library, churches, playgrounds, parks and backyard play spaces, Noble was identified as a “kid-friendly” area. The report also affirmed goals that Noble Neighbors already has in motion to diversify its membership through increased participation by renters and households with school-age children.
The Noble Community-Wide Home and Yard Sale propelled the group forward with a growing sense of vibrancy in the neighborhood. More than 100 people hosted yard sales to support the real estate open house fair on April 26, 2015. There was excitement as people from as far away as Solon, Chagrin Falls and Burton joined people from all over the Heights to tour homes and shop at yard sales. Lolly the Trolley toured the neighborhood, churches hosted pancake breakfasts and bake sales, the police academy held K-9 demonstrations, and the Home Repair Resource Center sold tools and provided advice for homeowners-to-be. Oxford School opened its doors to the Intermuseum Conservation Association’s art-conservation staff for a show-and-tell about the WPA murals and Hydrocal panels. The 2016 event will take place on Saturday and Sunday, May 14 and 15.
Gardens continue to provide both beauty and metaphor for the district. Three new public perennial gardens that were planted in the fall of 2014 showed their first colors lastspring. Large planters up and down Noble Road prompted greater pride in the business districts, and Oxford Garden gained new life with the Oxford Permaculture Project. Contributing to the garden’s history, which has roots in the 1930s, students, neighbors and garden pros partnered to build “lasagna” beds and prepare fertile soil for a new Oxford Elementary School gardening club in 2016. The newest green space grew from a closed gas station at Roanoke and Noble roads. The City of Cleveland Heights demolished the structure and planted grass and trees. Noble Neighbors was invited to add more beauty to the space by planting its fourth corner perennial garden.
In October, a meet-the-candidates forum focused exclusively on issues that affect the neighborhoods along Noble Road. Questions to city council and school board candidates asked them to consider housing-value support, Noble Road economic development and the proposed closing of Noble Elementary School. More than 100 people attended to learn how well each candidate understood the challenges of the district. One voter commented later, “I’ve never been so well prepared to vote in a local election. I was absolutely clear about who I wanted to represent us.”
Noble Neighbors is making great strides on its goal to support families with school-age children by tutoring students, volunteering at PTA events and donating school supplies and clothing. In an important intergenerational effort, several retirement-age men are mentoring Noble Elementary School boys.
In January, Noble Neighbors celebrated its anniversary—and what a group of volunteers can do to change the story of a neighborhood. Watch for more in 2016, and join in building new success.
Brenda H. May
Brenda H. May is one of the leaders of Noble Neighbors. For more information, visit www.nobleneighbors.com.