Neighborhood champions recognized with third annual Vibrant City Awards

Last month, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (CNP) hosted its third annual Vibrant City Awards Lunch. More than 500 city leaders, stakeholders and community development professionals gathered at Cleveland's Edgewater Park to celebrate leading neighborhood revitalization efforts.

"Cleveland’s neighborhoods would not be where they are today without the vision, passion and dedication displayed by the partners joining us here at the Vibrant City Awards Lunch," said CNP president Joel Ratner. "We are proud to honor the leading efforts in community development that are attracting new residents to our city and creating stronger neighborhoods for those who choose to call Cleveland home."

Jeff Kipp, CNP's director of neighborhood marketing coordinated the event, which was presented by KeyBank. "Important activities and programs that strengthen these urban neighborhoods are happening every day in the city of Cleveland," said Kipp. "We think it’s vital to celebrate these efforts and share this progress with individuals and community partners throughout the region."

Chosen from a host of finalists, the eight Vibrant City Awards and recipients included:

Vibrant City Impact Award: Cleveland Public Library for being an invested neighborhood institution that contributes to the lives of Clevelanders every day through its services and programs.

Morton L. Mandel Leadership in Community Development Award: Honorable Judge Raymond L. Pianka (1951 -2017). Pianka founded the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization. He was also a former city councilman and most recently the Housing Court Judge. His daughter, Kirsten Pianka, accepted the award on his behalf.

Urban Developer Award: Daryl Anderson of Mustard Seed Development. Mustard Seed Development is a community-based business that specializes in the renovation of real estate for renters on the near West Side of Cleveland. Anderson and his family are committed to providing housing for newcomers and refugees and hence work closely with the Refugee Services Collaborative of Greater Cleveland to aid prospective tenants from war torn regions such as Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Syria, Ivory Coast, Nepal, Rwanda, or Iraq. Anderson is also a partner in the International Village, a larger redevelopment strategy in the Metro West service area.

Civic Champion Award: Dawn Arrington. The Buckeye resident "super neighbor" and her family started a monthly Exchange with neighbors. Arrington also leads Neighbor Up’s Community of Practice, teaching neighbors about community network building. She also organizes sessions for the jobs pipeline Step Up to UH, is a regular participant at the Greater Buckeye Network Night and is a member of the Larchmere Porchfest planning committee.

CDC Community Collaboration Award: Ballot Box by Northeast Shores Development Corporation was a collaborative effort including 13 partners that increased civic involvement among residents in Collinwood. Project planning, monthly meetings and facilitated discussions informed residents on the proposed projects ahead of an election process. As a result, 3,400 community members played a role in funded projects throughout the neighborhood.

CDC Placemaking Award: A Bridge that Bridges by Campus District Inc. was an interactive mural project aiming to physically connect the Campus District while publicly addressing the longstanding division of race in Cleveland. The effort included a diverse group of community stakeholders who designed the mural and engaged in intentional conversations about race, racism, privilege and segregation. The project visually transformed the experience of crossing the East 22nd Bridge while socially connecting the neighborhood and acting as catalyst for conversation on racial equity.

CDC Economic Opportunity Award: Metro West Community Development Organization's participation in the Build Health Challenge fosters bold, integrated, and data-driven solutions to improve health equity in low-income communities with one-on-one outreach and dozens of in-home surveys to identify causes of environmental health ailments. Program efforts also identified funding to remedy situations that contribute to conditions such as asthma, lead poisoning and COPD. Metro West's work in Build Health is also leading to a robust rental registry that holds landlords accountable to healthy home standards.

CDC Neighborhood Branding & Marketing Award: Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation's social media campaign,  #WhatsYourOldBrooklyn: Old Brooklyn is a Great Place to Grow. Through this branding effort, the CDC convened and trained social media ambassadors, created themed events aimed specifically at promoting the community to visitors and newcomers, and provided a social media vehicle for local residents and businesses to promote their neighborhood.

Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, which is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network, is a nationally-recognized nonprofit that works in partnership with community development corporations, local foundations, the business community and government to support Cleveland’s neighborhoods and improve quality of life for city residents.

For questions and comments, contact Jeff Kipp at 216.375.4529, or via email.