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“Inside the Bricks: Woodhill Homes” shares personal stories from one of the nation’s earliest public housing neighborhoods as it faces a complete rebuild.

Inside the Bricks - Episode 6: All we need to do is get together

Indigo Bishop and Lashawna Adams-Mitchell of CMHA brainstorm future plans for Woodhill Homes.
Justin Glanville
Ideastream Public Media
Indigo Bishop and Lashawna Adams-Mitchell of CMHA brainstorm future plans for Woodhill Homes.

As "Inside the Bricks: Woodhill Homes" comes to an end — at least for now — I find myself in a reflective mood.

There are so many moments not from this series but the overall "Homes" initiative that have stuck with me and will stick with me for a long time.

I think about joining Julian Grossman on one of his job interviews. I learned about his persistence and his views on positive thinking alongside the everyday difficulties of finding work in a neighborhood that has experienced disinvestment, redlining and other forms of institutional racism.

I think about going grocery shopping with Shakira Collier and learning about how delicious green grapes are — even as she shared with me more difficult experiences of trauma and feeling unsafe in one's surroundings.

I think about spending two whole days trying to keep up with Sonny Graham, who was 8 at the time, waking up for some early morning boxing practice before going to school and then joining about five different after-school programs and playing outside with his friends in the afternoon.

These may seem like "small" experiences on the outside, but for me they are the ones that can tell us most about real life. They give us a window into everything that goes on when no one usually pays much attention. That can tell us as much or more than statistics or public meetings or any of our more traditional ways of understanding people and communities.

That, to me, has always been the point of "Homes" and "Inside the Bricks." Sure, these series are “about” public housing. Sure, they are “about” the fact that Woodhill might be completely rebuilt in the next few years, and asking how we can get that right for the sake of residents.

But I also hope that it’s been a way for listeners to experience some of the joy and enlightenment that I felt getting to know other people — and an invitation to get to know some strangers themselves.

Or, as Jeanette Marbley put it so expertly at the end of Episode 5 – to “get up, get out and find out what’s going on in your community.”

This final episode is a look back at our series, as Jeanette and I meet with local and national leaders to relive highlights from the show.

Our guests include Jeffery Patterson, the CEO and safety director of the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA); Joy Johnson, executive director of Burten Bell Carr Development Inc., the nonprofit that oversees development in the neighborhood; and Edward Goetz, a professor of urban planning at the University of Minnesota and the author of "New Deal Ruins: Race, Economic Justice and Public Housing Policy."

City Architecture
An architectural rendering shows how the first phase of Woodhill's redevelopment may look.

We'll also talk about what may be next for Woodhill, especially as CMHA applies Dec. 16 for a Choice Neighborhoods grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the second year in a row.

Also, what can we predict for the neighborhood given the nomination of Cleveland-area Congresswoman Marcia Fudge as the next HUD secretary?

If you've enjoyed "Inside the Bricks: Woodhill Homes," don't forget to subscribe to our podcast feed. We hope to do more in-depth series like this, and by subscribing you'll find out right away when they're available.

Copyright 2022 WCPN. To see more, visit WCPN.

Justin Glanville is the deputy editor of engaged journalism at Ideastream Public Media.