It’s been two months since the Weinland Park Story Book made its debut, but the graphic anthology continues to resonate within Weinland Park, the Ohio State campus community, and beyond.
The result of a longterm relationship with the campus-area neighborhood—not to mention a close collaboration with the Weinland Park Community Civic Association, plus local teens, artists, and social service agencies—the Weinland Park Story Book documents the neighborhood’s history, as well the benefits and challenges it has experienced from rapid change and gentrification. That the book’s storytellers are the people that live and work and the neighborhood (plus literary luminaries such as Wil Haygood, a onetime Weinland Park resident), its reporters are teen interns from the Wex, and its illustrators range from children to skilled local artists and Marvel cartoonist Sandy Plunkett) together serve to amplify the sensibility of Weinland Park as a neighborhood comprised of many people with differing voices and experiences.
Dan Gerdeman, an artist and art teacher at Hilliard Davidson High School, recently had this to say about the book: “Rarely are today’s youth recognized for their caring attitudes and genuinely thoughtful ideas. That said, the Weinland Park Story Book shimmers brightly with stories about the Weinland neighborhood through the decades.”
“The young artists and their mentors have created a sweet, funny, scathing graphic novel. The novel is chock full of everyday heroes, dark doings, neighborly love and the portrait of a place that we can all connect to no matter where we come from. I will share this with my children, my students, and my family,” Gerdeman says.
He isn’t the only one taking notice and sharing the story.
Tomorrow (Wednesday, September 3), WOSU Public Media’s “Broad & High” television program will feature the artists, storytellers, and community behind the book. If you miss its 7:30 PM airing, you can catch it again Sunday, September 7 at 5 PM, or online here immediately following the initial broadcast.
The program comes on the heels of WOSU’s radio show “All Sides With Ann Fisher,” which dedicated a segment the neighborhood in a conversation that featured the Wex’s own Jean Pitman, Weinland Park resident Joyce Hughes, Community Properties of Ohio President and CEO Isabel Toth, and Columbus Dispatch reporter Mark Ferenchik. You can listen to the segment (and read more) here, and read a Dispatch feature on the Weinland Park Story Book here.
The broader Ohio State community also took note: In addition to our Director of Education Shelly Casto’s Buckeye Voices post on the project and a piece by the Lantern, Ohio State’s student publication, the project and its participants were featured on osu.edu in June. Alyssa Hayman, house manager of Huckleberry House (and one of the people whose story is included in the book), told writer Monica DeMeglio she thought the project was important because, “When the veil is lifted and we’re transparent and vulnerable with each other, it bonds us. The village will raise the children.”
And Weinland Park resident Martin Weston, who contributed a story of his own to the book (and was the hero in his daughter’s story), told the Columbus Alive in its feature on the project, “This project is an opportunity for residents to learn more about their neighbors. …There are some stories in here that make you go, ‘Wow!’ ”
In a similar vein, Columbus Monthly editor Kristen Schmidt called the book “a magical collection of stories told through interviews with residents who tell the good and bad of Weinland Park, about the old days when it was a given that neighbors looked out for each other, and about the more recent years of violence, decay and fear. That these stories are told using a mix of illustrations and words makes them only more powerful. Each one is a piece of art; together they make a moving documentary.” Read her full post here, and get ready for more coverage on the story book in the magazine’s October issue.
Meanwhile, if you haven’t yet seen a copy of the book, you still can; while hard copies have been distributed to Weinland Park residents and contributors, you can check out a free digital version here.