Saturday, December 22, 2007


Anyone notice that this signage at 5th Avenue and 4th Street changed to "New Retail Space Coming Soon"? Sounds promising. This is a prime location since all the new residential projects are a few blocks south on 4th and 5th is a major traffic corridor and a gateway into the City.

Of course, the little corner bbq place would need to relocate. I hear the ribs are good but the blue tarp on the leaky roof makes me a little nervous.


Back in DC I hoed my little heart out in a community garden plot for almost four years. The experience was great with the exception of when my plot neighbor cut down my sunflowers one day because she felt they shaded her squash too much. I digress. Not only was I able to grow my own fresh vegetables and flowers but gardening was a great stress outlet for me and allowed me meet my fellow neighbors. From spring till fall, we would hold monthly on site bbq's, volunteer projects, etc. so it was a very close knit group.

After moving here a year ago I wanted to replicate the experience but had a hard time finding a location or person to contact so after a while I gave up. However, I just recently moved to the Italian Village and stumbled upon what appears to be a rundown community garden on Punta Street between Hamlet and Fourth Avenue. Obviously the winter season is party responsible for the garden's condition but I have feeling it is not as well loved as ones back in DC where most people do not have backyards. Anyone know about this site? I thought I would reach out to the online community before I contact the Growing to Green organization.

On a related note, as of 2006 the Franklin Park Conservatory became home of the American Community Garden Association. This is a pretty big deal and I wish Columbus would do more to publicize this organization and how it chose to relocate here.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


I fell in love with diagonal crosswalks in Pasadena earlier this year and think that they would work well in areas in Columbus with heavier pedestrian traffic such as Lane and High and in downtown. For those of you who are unfamiliar with them, at a certain time in the lighting cycle all four directions of traffic gets a red light allowing pedestrians to cross the intersection in any direction. It allows pedestrians to save time by reducing the wait time for crossing multiple approaches and provides benefits to drivers to because drivers turning right or left are not hindered by pedestrian traffic.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Last month the Columbus Dispatch did a nice feature on the Old Franklinton Cemetary and its adoptive caretaker Gary Royer. I have always found historic cemetaries with their weathered markers enchanting and fun to walk around. Not only are may of the markers beautifully crafted but they represent a community's past. Unfortunately these old burial grounds become neglected as family members of the buried move or pass away and maintance funds are redirected elsewhere.

Victorian era cemetaries were designed to be pleasure grounds where families regularly gathered and enjoyed the landscaped grounds. As public parks and private backyards became commonplace cemetaries became just where Aunt Mildred went after she expired. How people began to perceive cemetaries became unnesarily completely different. While I doubt that I'll propose a game of touch football at Old Franklinton any time soon, I believe cemetaries can be better integrated into the still-living community.

One of the biggest gripes urban Columbusites talk about it is the lack of dog parks in the city so how about dog walking community adopt the Old Franklinton Cemetary as a designated site? I imagine several people just made horrified faces at this suggestion. Before you judge hear me out.

The Congressional Cemetary in DC,the final resting place of J. Edgar Hoover and John Philip Sousa, was until the 1990's a neglected, vandalized cemetary despite its historical significance. Dog walkers saved the park from going to hell. Residents formed a neighborhood association and began using the cemetary for their dogs to exercise. The increased number of people in the park discouraged illegal activity and allowed the community to meet one another. The focus of the group then turned to restoring the cemetary and funded its activities through a dog walking membership program. People pay $200 a year and $50 for each dog to use the grounds.

Check out their dog walking site at
and the cemetary at

Hollywood looked to its past to save its historic cemetary. Every summer beginning in May the Hollywood Forever Cemetary hosts a movie series that features many of the stars buried on the grounds. Old movies are shown outdoors on the side of a masoleum and movie goers can bring refreshments. For one evening a week the cemetary comes alive and becomes a fun gathering space for the community.

The website is at

I think people's mindsets need to be changed about cemetaries. Sure, cemetaries need to be respected but they do not need to become off limit areas. Deceased people are not disrespected by people enjoying the cemetary grounds with their pets and loved ones. The deceased are disrespected when we forget about them completely.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


This is really great news since the current headquarters is really awful from both the outside and inside. I need to drive by the new location but I wish it was more centrally located in downtown. I believe this location overlooks 70/71.

Redfern states the need for the new accommodations very well- a new building will reflect the growing resurgence of the Democratic party in Ohio. I hope that the new headquarters will be open to having progressive groups use the new space for meetings and gatherings (if party rules allow).

Democrats buy new, bigger HQ Downtown
Wednesday, December 5, 2007 2:16 PM
By Joe Hallett

Buoyed by a rebirth after the 2006 statewide election, the Ohio Democratic Party has purchased a new Downtown home, nearly tripling the size of its current headquarters at 271 E. State St.

State party Chairman Chris Redfern said today that the party will move its staff of 38 to the 29,000-square-foot building formerly occupied by the Salvation Army at the corner of Fulton and Grant streets on Dec. 14.

Redfern said the building was listed for sale at $2.2 million and the party paid $1.6 million. The party will use money from its state building fund, which can accept corporate contributions, to pay the mortgage. A single corporation cannot contribute more than 10 percent of the total cost of the building under Ohio law.

“We believe we’re now the most successful state party organization in the nation, and if you are, you need to have a building appropriate for that,” Redfern said.

Through much of the 1990s and early 2000s, the Democrats were on life support as Republicans controlled all branches of government. But the party made a comeback in 2006 by winning four of five state executive offices and picking up seats in the General Assembly and Congress.

Redfern said the party will sell its current headquarters after the November 2008 election. Meanwhile, it will make the building available for rent to Democratic presidential candidates during the primary election campaign and to the party’s eventual nominee through the rest of the 2008. The party bought the building from the Ohio AFL-CIO for $825,000 in 1998 and still owes just under $600,000, Redfern said.

The new headquarters, wheelchair accessible unlike the old one, contains a commercial kitchen and will be used for a variety of party functions, including state central and executive committee meetings and fund-raisers. The party has had to rent buildings for such functions until now. The new facility also has twice as many parking places as the old.

Sunday, December 2, 2007



City's public art, such as it is, gets some oversight
Sunday, December 2, 2007 3:28 AM
By Robert Vitale

One of Columbus' public sculptures, The City, sits rusting, wrapped in snow fencing at Bicentennial Park and bearing a sign admonishing visitors to avoid climbing it.
Who better to pass judgment on the merits of art than the men and women who pave Columbus streets?

Nearly 50 years after creating a Columbus Art Commission to oversee sculptures, murals, fountains and other works in public places, the city finally has convened the group, whose roster of artists and art experts will take over duties previously assigned to transportation engineers.

The commission's seven members have met three times since October. They will make decisions about maintaining city-owned art, buying or accepting new pieces, and allowing private owners to place artwork on city property.


A great eight part series about the state of Ohio's major cities launched today. Check it out.

On the brink
Can Ohio's big cities be saved?

Sunday, December 2, 2007 3:47 AM
By Mark Niquette, Alan Johnson and Joe Hallett

The pictures are old, faded, black and white.

But the vibrancy of Ohio's once-thriving big cities remains crystal clear. You see it in faces in the crush of people outside W.T. Grant's in downtown Youngstown in 1952, the frenetic shift change at B.F. Goodrich Co. in Akron in the 1940s, a bustling street market in Dayton in 1910.

Most of the stores, factories and people in those photos are long gone, reminders of an era when Ohio's large cities were powerhouses. Their workers helped build America with the steel, cars and tires they made. Their entrepreneurs gave the world powered flight, the automobile self-starter and other inventions.

Today, however, most of Ohio's seven largest cities are teetering.

With the exception of Columbus, they have shed more than one-third of their population and watched as income, home values and other economic indicators dropped below national averages while poverty, job losses, crime and foreclosures skyrocketed.

For the rest visit....