Washington Gladden Social Justice Park
404 E. Broad St.
Columbus, OH 43215
Written and Photographed by Doreen Dawkins
After visiting the Columbus Museum of Art, I decided to walk around. If I remember correctly, the Washington Gladden Social Justice Park is less than a block away from the museum. While walking, I noticed the following:
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Dr.Seuss.
Sidebar: I stopped walking to think about what I just read. I thought that’s odd, I wonder why this quote is just in the middle of the pavement. Then, I looked to the right and realized that I was approaching the entry of a park.
According to socialjusticepark.org, Washington Gladden Social Justice Park is, “the first in the nation dedicated to the theme of social justice.”
Sidebar: On the other side of the wall, there are benches and green space that appear to be circular in design. The design appears to be clean lines and minimalistic in nature. In my opinion, the design is deliberate to foster discussion.
“We must lay down our racial bribes, join hands with people of all colors, and say to those who would stand in your way: accept all of us or none.” Michelle Alexander
Sidebar: Enough said.
I had no idea that this park is in Columbus. The first of its kind in the nation. We are trailblazers! I hope as more people visit the park, it will cause us to take a few minutes out of our busy lives to think about social justice and the positive impact we can make individually and corporately.
4615 N. High St.
Columbus, OH 43214
Written and Photographed by Doreen Dawkins
In the mid 1980’s, after Sunday morning service but before youth service at 5:30 pm, we would pile into Alicia Mackey’s car to go to GD Ritzy’s in Bexley for lunch.
Interview with Corey Webb
How did you decide to open after several years?
It started on Thanksgiving about 4 years ago. My brother and I were walking on the beach in Florida. We were talking to our dad telling him that someone asked us what ever happened to GD Ritzy’s. We decided to bring it back. We are old enough to have the experience and young enough to have the energy. Here we are.
What can you tell me about the burgers?
We fresh bake all of our buns in house. All the meat is fresh, never frozen. We have more premium toppings. We want it to be better than fast food, but we don’t necessarily want it to be a sit down burger restaurant. Many people talk about our ice cream cost, but it is a premium dense ice cream. Most ice creams are 30% over run. That is the percentage of air that is added to ice cream. We are at about 8%. One scoop of our ice cream is about as dense as two scoops of someone else’s ice cream.
My favorite ice cream from 30 years ago was Chucky Dorey Fudge. Tell me about that flavor.
It is our chocolate based ice cream that won best ice cream in America by People Magazine back in 1983. We add fudge brownie pieces to it. It is a very decadent and rich ice cream.
Brag on some other menu items that weren’t my favorite. (I ordered the same thing every time.)
You are on par with the double cheese burger and Chunky Dorey Fudge ice cream. Our peanut butter and jelly sandwich is phenomenal. It comes with fresh sliced strawberries and crushed nuts on two pieces of Texas toast. It can be grilled. We have a 100% all beef natural casing hot dog.
Was the peanut butter and jelly on the menu back in the day?
Yes. We are slowly bringing back some of the other menu items people remember. We are working on bringing back the chicken sandwich, steamed vegetables, and salad.
Sidebar: Steamed vegetables and salad have their place in our diet, but I suggest you try the double cheeseburger and fries.
Sidebar: The picture doesn’t do the burger justice. I didn’t remember how the outside of the building looked, the restaurant décor, that you have your choice of toppings or condiments on the burger, or if the fries were dropped to order. When I took a bite of the double cheeseburger, all the memories of eating there and fellowshipping after church with my friends from the youth department came back.
Sidebar: It tastes exactly how I remembered. It starts with an extremely rich chocolate base. The chunks of fudge just take it over the top. I don’t have the words to describe how good this ice cream is. It is worth the $3.99 for the first scoop, $2.00 for the second scoop or $7.99 for the pint. The single scoop was extremely filling. I think the dense explanation made more sense after I ate every bit of the scoop.
It is worth driving from the east side… This is a place to go back down memory lane or to start new memories. My suggestion is the double cheese burger, fries, beverage of your choice, and save room for the Chunky Dorey Fudge.
Sullivant Gardens Recreation Center
755 Renick St.
Columbus, OH 43223
Written and Photographed by Doreen Dawkins
Interview with Director David Brown
Tell me about your organization. Tell me about what you are doing out here today.
Harmony Project is a non-profit that brings people together across social, economic, geographic, cultural, religious, and political backgrounds. We get people together to recognize our differences. We don’t need to pretend that we are the same, because we are not. The beauty of this country is found in our differences. We bring people together through music. We don’t ask if you can sing, because it doesn’t matter what your voice sounds like. It just matters if you want to use your voice. That is a metaphor for the community. Some people’s voices are amazing, some probably never should have sung outside the shower, but when they all come together the weaker voices are lifted by the stronger voices. That is what community is all about. If you have more resources over here and someone over there has less, we need to share and figure this out to create balance. People think it is all about musical harmony. What it is really about is social harmony.
We started ten years ago today. Ten years ago, 100 people said I will sing in a concert, I will try to learn this music and I will volunteer some time. Now, we are generating 65,000 hours a year in volunteer service that is valued to the city at about 1.5 million dollars. We have 11,000 and 60 plus people singing in weekly programs. We are in a women’s prison, men’s prison, transitional housing facilities and 23 schools have students who participate in our programs. Our Monday night choir is 500 voices. Members are from every religion, every political opinion and every background you can imagine. All of those people, the inmates, the children, the formerly homeless, the men and women who are differently abled, every person in the Harmony program doesn’t have to pay a dime to participate in anything that they do. They don’t have to sell a ticket. They don’t have to pay a membership fee. They don’t even have to buy a tee shirt. They must give a certain number of hours in community service.
We put people from different zip codes together to work on purpose. Someone from Bexley, someone from Hillard, someone from the Linden area are all painting a mural together. We hope that they talk, get to know one another, engage and find something in common. The community benefits because we are getting stuff done. It is not about you being wrong and me being right. It is about us meeting where we are. It is “bs” when people say they don’t see color, or gay or that. You do and you should. I want you to look at me and see a gay man. I want you to look at someone and realize they are a Muslim, black, Democrat, or Republican. I want us to look at those things because that is part of who we are. It should not stop us from providing a soccer field for children or a playground being built on the south side. The kids don’t care if you voted for Hillary or Trump. They want a play ground.
Interview with Kyra Crook
Tell me about the Harmony project and why you are out here.
The Harmony project is amazing. David Brown put up posters requesting 100 people to sing whether they could sing or not. It worked. Ten years later we are a crowd of well over five hundered, perhaps even a thousand. We are preparing for our next concert, which will be December 12, 2019. This choir works in the community. We come together to sing and to serve. Today the kids received gifts, and a new soccer net. We strike up joy wherever we go and we love it.
Sidebar: I love seeing Mifflin High School graduates volunteering and making a difference. (In case you haven’t figured it out that is the best public high school in central Ohio (and my alma mater). My blog, my choice).
My take: I’m in awe of the implementation of vision. The testimony is remarkable of the impact and growth they have experienced in 10 years. Harmony around music and harmony around the human race. Everyone I observed appeared to have a great time. Everyone dancing and interacting together. It appeared that the volunteers enjoyed serving as much as the participants enjoyed receiving. In my mind, this project puts two of the classes that I am a member to shame from a unity and harmony perspective. Black women and Christians, we need to do better.
Easton Town Center
160 Easton Town Center
Columbus, OH 43219
Written and Photographed by Doreen Dawkins
Artists use chalk to create large works of art while interacting with those who attend the event.
Sidebar: The concept is based on Logan Square’s Robin Williams Mural. Lori’s genies are smiling and have eye balls and Robin Williams is in color and happy.
Why chalk art?
I was here a couple of years ago. I thought it was interesting, so why not? I am typically a digital artist. I like to run towards things that scare me.
Is this your first time doing vertical chalk art?
This is my first time doing chalk art.
Sidebar: I love that this event gives a platform for artists to display chalk art for the first time.
Is chalk your main media?
This is the one chalk event that I do every year. I usually don’t work with this material. I usually work in paint, drawing material like graphite or digital media.
What do you think of the vertical blocks?
I am a fan. This is my seventh or eighth year doing this. Usually, I am on the ground. Being able to stand and work is pretty nice this year. I think when people see the vertical chalk art, it pulls them into the event. People seem to be exploring the event more this year.
I love this event! I agree with Thom Glick. The addition of the 8’ chalk cubes “pulls people into the event.” Previously, if a person wasn’t paying attention they could walk right past the event and not realize it was going on. It amazes me the creativity on display. Eight or ten feet is a large area to cover with chalk vertically or horizontally. This is the mature lady in me comment, I can’t imagine wear and tear on the body, especially the knees. Although this event is scheduled until 6:00pm, if you want to interact with the artists, I suggest you arrive about 3:30 pm. Many artists were done and packing up around 4:30 pm.
Sidebar: It is advertised that this festival is on the Scioto Mile. It is not! It is west of the River, south of COSI (Center of Science and Industry).
Much of the festival was centered around music and dancing.
Why did you come to the Columbus Caribbean Festival?
I support anything West African and Caribbean. I am for unification. We are all black. I’m about having fun together. We are not that different. If we came together, more we would be able to see how similar we are. The different types of music are fun. For example, reggae, soca, dance hall, hip hop, and afrobeat. It is all influenced by each other. It is fun to hear the different connections.
Where are you from? How often have you come to this festival?
I’m first generation American. My mom is from Port-au-Prince. This my first year here. I am originally from New Jersey. In New Jersey, we have this every year.
How can this be made better?
Incorporate the Haitian culture and a little bit more of all the islands. There was only one tent that had Haitian food. It was good, but there should be a lot more Haitian food and music here. We have music that you can dance to just like Jamaican music.
Where are you from. Did I see you dancing earlier?
I am originally from Saint Thomas, Virgin Islands, but I drove from Cleveland to be here. If you play soca music, then I will be up and moving around.
It looks like those dancing are shaking everything at the same time.
It’s never too late for soca. It is a whole body experience. Once soca is in your blood, you chase it. It’s like a high.
It seems like, with all that shaking, people would not be fat.
You see how good we eat. When I arrived, I put my chair down and got something to eat before I started dancing.
Tell me about your work.
I try to have something for everyone. I have 4 children’s books that are best for 8 years old and under. It was important for me, as a black author and black self publisher to have black illustrators and African American main characters. I have a compilation of young ladies from 6 to 60 talking about getting along, keeping the peace, and working together. It has a companion journal. My most recent book is the story of my life. It is a book of short stories from mens, womens, children and ancestors perspective. It is a great conversation starter regarding mental health. I have a book of poetry for adults. It goes through the ups and downs of my life’s journey. I have a non-fiction ebook about publishing your own book and a guide for getting grants.
I founded the Bridges book club at www.bridgesbookclub.com. Each month we have a featured author that is part of the group. We have best selling authors, publish authors and aspiring authors.
This is a chill festival. I enjoyed watching those dancing. It is hard to describe. Although I have rhythm, I dare not try dancing for concern of pulling or straining something. It was good to see unity in action. People connecting around the music and dancing.