|Posted by jessica.wobig on August 23, 2015 at 9:00 AM||comments (0)|
Based on a reaction to the article: http://www.cleveland.com/cleveland-heights/index.ssf/2015/08/owner_of_former_center_mayfiel.html
Being a historic preservationist, my sensitivity for decline is a little different than the average bear. For instance, I freak out a little when I read an article about the potential demolition of the Mayfield Center, the keystone commercial property in my neighborhood. I don't see just another old and underutilized building, but rather a loss of opportunity and steep outlook for future disparity. We, as a community, are standing on the edge of a cliff. If we choose, we can use this vantage point for our benefit. Otherwise, we are choosing just to blindly march forward and off the cliff to Splatsville.
What is Splatsville? We've built it, infinite times over. These are the places we've constructed and left. Some of these places which were never even finished. From ill fated 2000s cul-de-sacs,1890s gold rush towns, 1980s amusement park relics, these places are stark examples of abandonment. But what happens when these places are still ripe with residents?
We can picture empty castles, ruins, and vine covered farmsteads in a detached and ruin-pornographic way. This places are fetishized and removed from our daily lives. The spooky derelict house that no one wants to pass on the sidewalk. When the abandoned if your neighborhood, the place you live in day-to-day, the stakes are higher and the fetishism gone. The vacant houses, empty lots that used to be homes, and the for lease signs in the widows of the commercial buildings, all mean something quite different.
To the declining neighborhood residents, these vacancies are not just a loss of revenue but a loss of services, access to goods, and a lapse in quality of daily life. In my eight years as a Noble neighborhood resident, I've watched as businesses close, storefronts stay empty, and houses stand vacant after years on the market. Social concerns consequently continue to rise, as more vandalism and youth violence are met with more sirens, less people on the streets, unsafe parks, and a general lack of community. This ongoing problem continues to go unmet or discussed by the City.
As for the threatened keystone commercial property, this 1920s building type is heralded and actively used in other commercial nodes throughout Cleveland Heights. Coventry, Cedar-Lee, and Fairmount all include occupied building types like the Mayfield Center. The difference, of course, is the location. Noble at Mayfield stands between Mayfield Heights in all its strip mall glory and Coventry. It stands north of Cedar-Warrensville with all its new construction and south of Euclid-Noble of East Cleveland The type of businesses that surround Noble-Mayfield are fast food places, auto stores, and dollar shops. Though some small restaurants and wig shops hold down the fort.
Back to Splatsville. I could go on and on and on, but the point is simple. If the City does not address the systematic abandonment of the Noble neighborhood, More importantly, its Splatsville, if the people of Cleveland Heights do not address the cliff at which we stand.
|Posted by jessica.wobig on December 1, 2014 at 12:10 AM||comments (0)|
This November, I attended the National Trust for Historic Preservation PastForward Conference in Savannah, Georgia. During this week long gathering of advocates and practitioners, I attended field sessions and presentations tailored to inspire. Not to mention, on the last day of the conference, I presented a session, Where Hip Meets Historic, alongside several national key innovators in the field. Pretty powerful stuff.
As part of the preservationTOMORROW track, Where Hip Meets Historic focused on demonstrative examples discussed by leaders from postindustrial cities of Buffalo, Cleveland, Chicago and Minneapolis. and an overall strategy pep talk brought to you by yours truely. The goal of our session was a deep dive into how to sucessfully pull off preservation in new ways and how to connect your passion with your practice for powerful results. A ton of energy was spent building up to that presentation. From coordinating to excecuting, I hope the audience walked away with a renewed sense of purpose and new methods for their cause.
Here are a couple of my take aways from the week:
- During my From Middens to Tabby field session at Ossabaw Island, I found myself reflecting on the further need to align my preservation practice with the broader environmental discipline. I have a feeling this experience is going to result in additional professional development or a new degree. Saving our urban environments consequently save our natural landscapes. Its my job to figure out how to connect everyone with the urgent need to use our built environment more responsibly.
- Mutiple sessions touched on my personal interest of connecting preservation with the needs of people or communities in order to address contemporary issues.
- There was a theme regarding taking inventory of preservation's sucesses and shortcomings to find better practices and increase impact.
- Nonprofits and local governments are failing to create the scale of civic engagement opportunities necessary to create the desired "snow-ball" effect of change at a programmatic level. This is due in part to fear of losing their competitive edge as experts and unwillingness to try new things. As a result, youth and other social outliers, who could be allies, are not being effectively reached.
- The private sector is not engaged in enough probono opportunities to impact change. Further support and education is necessary to exploit this potential for not only fiscal support but also expertise.
- Education is missing the boat. More internships/fellowships should be developed to provide students with experiences necessary to learn effectively. Without the lens to understand the issues, its impossible to develop the skills needed to effect the level of change required to use our built and natural resources effectively. Less classroom, more streets. Otherwise, its no wonder why its business as usual.
|Posted by jessica.wobig on September 20, 2014 at 9:10 AM||comments (0)|
In response to a call for abstracts from the Cleveland Urban Design Colloborative, I submitted "How to Exploit Loss for Sustainable Gain", which I developed while serving with the City of Cleveland Planning & Landmarks Commission. This abstract deals with the thrust of four years research and exploration that honed my position as a expert on the topic. This November, I will be presenting on this topic at PastForward, the National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference to be held in Savannah, GA.While my peice did not make the cut for the publication, I will be self publishing via this website for your personal use. Stay tuned.
|Posted by jessica.wobig on September 9, 2014 at 6:55 AM||comments (0)|
Every once in awhile, I will decide to do a month long tribute or campaign via social media. It started with a 30 day challenge to post a fabulous woman each day during Woman’s History Month, but now its morphed into a method for sharing my thought in a powerful and organized way.
My Woman’s History Month experiment was successful. Not only did I get my social media circle interacting with my posts, but I was able to connect with one of my fascinating picks, https://twitter.com/livingarchitect" target="_blank">Dr. Rachel Armstrong, via Twitter. By tagging Dr. Armstrong's Twitter handle, she had direct access to my recognition of her extraordinary value to our broader culture and history. This is a two-way street. She had access to me and I had access to her, which is the purpose and incredible gift of social media.
When we organize our thoughts and make purposeful engagements online, we are able to build understanding and promote what matters to us. Not only is the communication instant, but it we do it correctly, its a long-lasting record that may be accessed in the foreseeable future.
So, here is what I am working on during the month of September, "Devoid of Abandonment".
I was browsing the web, per usual, when a picture of a newly built millionaire's development nearly Dublin, Ireland that feel into disrepair and abandonment after the 2007 financial crisis. The idea struck. People's opinion is along the lines of old means abandoned, as in historical buildings are what become abandoned because they are obsolete. Right? You've heard this before. Well, the image of the under ten year old dwellings says otherwise.
The point my September campaign is trying to make---Nothing is devoid of abandonment, but rather it is our effect on objects that cause waste, abandonment, and eventually ruin. On the flip-side, if we are what causes abandonment we are also the solution. My goal of this campaign is connecting people with the abandoned historic resources they have divorced responsibility. This is the inherent problem that preservationists face, helping people understand its not the building that is the problem its the ownership.
|Posted by jessica.wobig on August 21, 2014 at 7:40 PM||comments (0)|
Regardless if you are a national service alum or not, you should join thousands of alums and members across the nation to affirm your pledge to service on September 12.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the first AmeriCorps swearing in ceremony. On the 12th, I will be joining the next class of over 800 AmeriCorps members in Columbus, Ohio to affirm our lifetime commitment to service. Why should you join us? Because you should show your spirit, voice and passion for building a better community, together.
I am an AmeriCorps member, and I make a difference in my community.
I believe that AmeriCorps is one year, in a lifetime of service.
I pledge to continue to serve in all aspects of my life.
I took action, and will continue to serve.
I sought common ground, and will build community throughout my life.
I persevered, and will live each day with conviction.
I will lead by example.
I will engage other people, as we make our world a better place.
I join the AmeriCorps Alums before me, as we harness our energy to inspire those yet to come.
Together, we will continue to get things done!
|Posted by jessica.wobig on July 26, 2014 at 10:30 AM||comments (0)|
As a mother of 2.5 children, summer vacation is full of "boredom". So, I have scratched my creativity and came up with an interactive solution to keep my children engaged and get them thinking about placemaking, a YouTube channel with original content.
Together, we have two smartphones, an iPad, a tablet and two laptops. All of these devices come with internal cameras. As web enabled devices, its super easy to capture short videos, edit and upload. YouTube even offers automatic editing capabilities as part of their service. If you don't have to download a seperate application to edit. Just use your, most likely, preinstalled video application, save, edit, and upload to your Youtube Channel. All the devices come with 4MP or higher cameras, which is more than enough to upload quality video... with the right stablization, lighting and audio considerations, of course. If you want a free video app, check out these.
For our project, our production kit includes a waist-high table to act as our "tripod", a laptop, a sheet (to block direct sun during outdoor shoots), and a couple lamps without shades (for interior shoots).
Don't underestimate the value of preproduction. We are working on our script by using sticky notes to plot it out on our wall. This way, even my youngest son, who can't write yet, can draw out ideas in simple shapes in order to stay part of the action. Want more help on this topic. Check out this.
The best part--during our brainstorming sessions, I am able to teach them about why place matters, and just how important it is for them to participate in making our communities great.
Subscribe to our Legacy Narrative YouTube channel for updates.
Or, as always, feel free to email me at [email protected]
Reality and Renewal in Broadway-Slavic Village: Why 21st Century Preservation is about Nowness not Newness
|Posted by jessica.wobig on May 31, 2014 at 10:30 AM||comments (0)|
Many significant places have been brought back from ruin. These places emerge from disarray caused by nature, humanity, or a combination of the two. In Cleveland’s Broadway-Slavic Village, consumption and abandonment are fused together. In a sense, use and vacancy become unwilling partners entangled in a tango of unstructured movements. This fragile dance between attraction and repulsion fueled by loss creates an unsettling reality for residents and outsiders. Yet, these perceived ruinous places are products of perception, symbols of untamed networks, and uncertain realities of renewal.
Starting in September 2012, I conducted a year-long historic architectural survey of Cleveland’s Broadway-Slavic Village. I documented, researched, and wrote about one of the largest 20th century Polish communities in the United States. As a former resident of Slavic Village, a great-granddaughter of Polish immigrants, and a historic preservationist, this opportunity aligned with my desire to serve a proud community while exploring my own past. Despite my optimism for the subject, I was confronted by historic preservationists, planners, politicians, and development professionals who questioned the validity of surveying an area that has lost so much.
In recent history, Broadway-Slavic Village has become known as the epicenter of the foreclosure crisis. Block after block of buildings stand with broken or half-boarded windows, ivy covered porches, shuttered doors, while hovering askew next to vacant, litter strewn lots. Historic brick commercial buildings that formerly housed hardware shops and patisseries sit vacant, while modern discount convenient stores with front loaded parking lots absorb all commercial activities. Dedicated residents, two National Register Historic Districts, and a handful of planning tools could not keep blight from burning holes in this urban fabric; however, the kindling of potentiality remains ablaze in the historical structures awaiting renewal.
If preservation is about assuring the past may be experienced in the future, then even devastated areas should be recorded, designated, and preserved, because 21st century preservation is about nowness not newness. In the United States, diversity and endurance are two ideal pieces of the American spirit. What remains from this turn of the 20th century Polish-American community are homes, schools, churches, social halls, parks, alleyways, and streetscapes embedded with a story of movement, opportunity, loss, and change. These places feature creatively orchestrated spaces, affordable housing, opportunity, walkable neighborhoods designed for use, and memory. This place awaits stewards to discover, invest, and awaken a great community ripe with potentiality.
The built environment echoes with loss because of human consumption patterns. The whirring sound of the steel mills blankets the air, soil and ground water with impurities. Population continues to bleed across neighborhood borders to seek prosperity elsewhere. Empty buildings neighbor modest homes cramped with children, cooking smells, plastic toys, while outside the occasional dog runs down a gravel driveway past a lone pedestrian. These pocketed and empty streets sing with a lesson of how not to be sustainable, as the wisdom of the past whispers stories that demonstrate perseverance. This place is about wholeness even if outsiders choose to look away rather than face this tumultuous example of perpetual loss and unbridled change created by people.
Most importantly, my year in Broadway-Slavic Village illustrated historic building types, immigrant narratives, transitional stories of culture, and exemplified overwhelmingly unsustainable development habits. As such, this study assured my belief that historic preservation is the act of identification and honoring of important people, places, and events by securing and restoring communities for future generations. My experience surveying this perceived ruinous place deepened my purpose as a preservationist, who acknowledges that contemporary preservation moves beyond saving petite town squares, high style manors, and ornate cathedrals, as 21st century preservation acts as the metabolism of a city to nurture space for rebirth, renewal, and sustainable change in places just like Broadway-Slavic Village.
|Posted by jessica.wobig on March 10, 2014 at 6:35 PM||comments (0)|
One of my favorite place-makers is Jane Jacobs.
Like any good urbanist, Jane and I don't always agree, but when we do...this article from the National Trust points out what we would shake hands on.
|Posted by jessica.wobig on March 5, 2014 at 3:50 PM||comments (0)|
First, I'd like to thank Bob for giving me the opportunity to serve with the Cleveland Landmarks Commisison from 2010-2013. Bob's genuine and congenial personality made the three years fly by. He was the best supervisor, allowing me to do my thing, and supporting me when necessary. Not to mention, he knows the best lunch places downtown! Here is to your retirement, Bob! The land of milk and honey won't be quite the same!
Most Sincerely, Jessica.
Reblogged from the Cleveland Restoration Society's Perspectives (March 2014)
Bob Keiser Retires as Secretary of Cleveland Landmarks Commission
The Cleveland Restoration Society would like to congratulate Bob Keiser, long-time secretary of the Cleveland Landmarks Commission, on his retirement. Bob came to the City of Cleveland under a federally funded environmental internship program under which he completed the historic building survey of the Franklin Circle Historic District. In 1983, he was hired as the first professional preservation staff member for the Cleveland Landmarks Commission. He completed surveys of Brooklyn Centre, Little Italy, Edgewater, and Buckeye Road. In 1989, Bob was appointed to serve as the secretary of the commission. His legacy as secretary includes the administration of 36 National Register Historic Districts, 26 local historic districts, and 312 individual landmarks and the establishment of the Cleveland Architects Database, a listing of architects and master builders that have worked in Cleveland from the 1820s until the 1930s. A native of Toledo, Bob is an Ohio State University alum, with a BA in Urban Studies, who also has earned an MS degree from Eastern Michigan in Historic Preservation, Preservation Planning. Bob is taking some time to travel, and looks forward to leisurely days partaking in board gaming, one of his favorite hobbies, as well as continuing working on his family genealogy project. Friends and colleagues are planning a spring celebration in his honor at CRS's Sarah Benedict House.
|Posted by jessica.wobig on February 25, 2014 at 1:35 PM||comments (0)|
Creative, colloborative conservation leads placemaking, preservation and progress.
Because we mean business, we are now listed on the 1% program of Public Architecture.
Check it out! Pass it on! Go Pro Bono!