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May 26, 2010

Nine Months and Way Past My Due Date

It’s been forever since my last blog entry, which sounds like something I confessed to my priest awhile back.

So what’s been happening in Cleveland?

After jumping into the fall semester at Case, we hustled to finish the mural at Mr. E’s. During evening hours and weekends too, folks stopped by to finish the work of Case students, neighbors, and kids from Mooney Elementary school. Our goal was to finish painting the mural before the crisp, coolness of fall set in, and we were happy to put away the brushes by September 15th.

(For an in-depth look of what it was like to manage and complete our mural, check out a recent
in the Old Brooklyn News.)

Hard to believe, but I had tennis elbow after that mural for six solid months. So I sat back during the rest of September and decided to take a much-needed break.

October rolled around and I was invited to participate in the Greek Life Service Symposium at Case Western Reserve. The symposium is held in the fall of each year when students come together to assist various non-profit groups.

See, we held a previous event in March of 2009 when we created a bunch of art to place in store windows so we could try and get some vacant spaces rented. The idea worked over on Oak Park and Broadview roads, and those businesses have been occupied for a full year now. So whenever we get a chance to do more service projects, I store up the artwork and reach out to businesses to see if they need the help.

In order to get ready for the November 13 event, I had to prep some cardboard for store murals. So I spent the entire month of October making trips to the Case recycling center to rescue cardboard boxes, stack them down my basement, and give them a colorful coat of red, green, purple and gold. We hauled them over to The Spot on November 13 and joined a group of students, who were there to assist me and several other non-profit groups. In addition to creating artwork for my project, students created medical supply bags for the homeless, made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the Cleveland Foodbank, stitched blankets for needy children, and managed a few other projects.

The Greek Life event proved to be a huge success. We had more than 40 Case students attend! Thanks to Pyone Thi and Alex Galante for coordinating the event and donating 10 quarts of paint and 30 paint brushes to my project. With the help of Case students, we were able to create dozens of pieces of artwork I can use in my upcoming projects.

Photo 1 | Photo 2 | Photo 3

After that project, I decided to take a break and settle in for the cold, Cleveland winter. Sadly, my family experienced a tragic loss when my nephew died suddenly in January. Unfortunately, I have spent the last several months in a fog trying to deal with it all. I was so glad to see spring arrive, although I am convinced my life will never be the same.

Once April rolled around, I had an opportunity to assist in a community project that was organized by a group called the Brooklyn Centre Naturalists. The group was awarded a ReImagining Cleveland grant and developed a plan to convert two abandoned lots off Denison Avenue into community gardens. On April 10, we had about 15 Case students volunteer their time, digging holes and moving dirt that afternoon. It was one of the hottest days in April, which made it especially nice to get outside and enjoy the weather.

Photo 1 | Photo 2 | Photo 3

There is a lot more going on in Cleveland this summer, so let me know about your service projects and maybe we can work together on something worthwhile in the next few months.

Posted by mcd34 at May 26, 2010 10:03 AM

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