Connecting With Neighbors One Block At A Time
By Tara Bannon Williamson
Park Hill Librarian
In the spirit of increasing our capacity to live and work together as a community, the Pauline Robinson and Park Hill branch libraries collaborated on a community walk on Saturday, Oct. 27.
We started our walk at the Park Hill Branch Library fortified with pastries from Hinman’s Bakery and coffee from Prodigy (both unique and local), a short talk about the history of the branch, and an introduction to the Our Park Hill Public Knowledge summary. We concluded our time at the branch with quick introductions around the large circle. From the get-go, neighbors were making connections with one another. Some folks who live on Monaco learned that they were neighbors during the event and have already made plans to get together in the future!
Attendance doubled from our inaugural walk last year to 32 adults and four kids this year. Several families joined the walk pushing a stroller, or carrying their little ones. One family attending had just moved to the neighborhood three weeks earlier. One of the dads asked lots of questions about researching the history of his house and I was happy to provide guidance on how to get started and enthusiastically encouraged exploring the Western History Genealogy department. One family with a toddler said that they usually come to the library for Storytime and were excited to find an event that they could all attend together on a weekend.
Several older adults were also on the walk and provided important historical context at many points and enjoyed the active aspect of our activity. One gentleman using a wheelchair started with us but decided to head home after a few blocks, concerned his battery wouldn’t last, putting a human face on the transportation obstacle many of our neighbors face each day.
Safety was a primary concern and we exercised alert caution crossing the street, with Pauline Robinson Librarian Leslie Williams and I often acting as crossing guards and making sure everyone got across busy intersections safely. With the two of us making sure we didn’t have anyone left behind, Dawn Kirkwood led the walk relying on her expertise from Walk2Connect and advance preparation to guide her. Kirkwood researched the neighborhood and distributed quotes amongst the participants to be read in related locations.
Some historical moments highlighted were more recent, like Jan. 17, 2017, when kindergartners from Park Hill Elementary and Stedman Elementary met between the two schools and walked to Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church where Martin Luther King, Jr preached in 1964. As they walked, the kindergartners sang “We Shall Overcome.”
An important moment transpired when we crossed Martin Luther King, Jr Blvd. and we stopped to dig deeper into our shared experiences around this broad and busy street. One person asked if this was the boundary between North Park Hill and South Park Hill and we shared what we have heard in community conversations about why One Park Hill is our shared aspiration – where the divides in the neighborhood come from and how we can work together to overcome these divides. The difference in sidewalks within our community are a great way to talk about the importance of infrastructure.
More Community Walking Tours are being planned for 2019. We’ll revisit our favorite art alleys, little free libraries, and cover new territory too. Reach out to your local library for more information or provide suggestions on community events.