Seat at the Table

Seat at the table consisted of live meetings, once a day for five days. One of the objects that has served our work and holds an important space in our growing network played a prominent role. The table built for the first On The Map collaborators in 2014 was the site for these meetings. With six sides, six distinct modules, and the material having been gathered from disparate piles of post-O-t-R rehab scraps of various vintages (including one 100+ year old support beam), we are reminded of the value of difference in making strong community.

The meetings were designed so that a specific mix of six OtR stakeholders per meeting were invited, each offered a seat at the table:

1 longtime resident

1 newer resident

1 person who works for a business

1 business owner

1 person from a community org

1 developer

Conversations were framed by prompt questions:

What places make you excited about your future in Over-the-Rhine?

Responses included:

  • Findlay Market
  • 400 units of affordable housing developed by Over-the-Rhine Community Housing
  • Mixed income development on Pleasant St.
  • Main and Schiller (site of proposed development that would eliminate basketball courts and community gardens used by mostly low income neighborhood families)
  • Everything!

What places make you nervous about your future in Over-the-Rhine?

Some responses:

  • Vacation Homes
  • Home affordability in 5 years
  • Entertainment trumping quality of life for residents
  • Main and Schiller

Participants wrote short descriptions of their places, and pinned them on the map. Similar to the one at the mobile kiosk, we started with a blank-slate map of Over-the-Rhine that only had street lines, no street names or buildings. As participants developed the map collectively over the week, a web of strands connecting places and lived experiences materialized, mirroring the network of connection being made as people shared their own and heard others’ excitements and concerns.