Friends of Shaker Square

A Letter to the Shaker Square Community

This description of the relationship between the Buckeye Area and Shaker Square area development corporations and their movement towards a merger appeared over the signature of SHAD president Kenisha Pierce in the Winter 2011 - 12 issue of The Connection, published ca. late November 2011. It may have been the first time SHAD's membership and the community were told of the plan for the Shaker Square area to be served by a new combined Buckeye-Shaker Square area community development corporation.
 

A Letter to the Shaker Square Community

I am writing on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the Shaker Square Area Development Corporation. For close to 35 years, our organization has worked to revitalize and sustain our commercial districts and neighborhoods. We have worked to empower the people who live and work in our community to play an active role in our work.

In 2005, in an effort to improve our revitalization efforts, SHAD collaborated with Buckeye Area Development Corporation (BADC) on the Buckeye Larchmere Community Planning Initiative. With the financial support of Neighbor-hood Progress, Inc (NPI) and the Saint Lukeís Foundation, these two neighborhoods embarked on a process that has continued to benefit the residents and merchants to this day. When you think about Harvey Rice School and Rice Library; or when you enjoy artistic murals and sculptures you can look to the conversations that took place almost a decade ago. These efforts created the results we see today. These conversations helped our communities learn about each other and we were surprised at the fact that while we are each unique, we had more in common than we ever imagined. We realized we share community assets that we both valued greatly - among them Shaker Square, the Rapid Transit, and most significantly, committed, passionate people.

Since that time, SHAD and BADC have continued to collaborate on several fronts. We continue to work to improve our quality of life for residents through housing development and home repair programs. Through the help of our commercial development programs and creative improvements like landscaping and public art, our commercial districts continue to thrive. In recent years, along with the negative downturn of the economy, non-profit organizations have had to struggle with funding challenges in order to stay in business. The downturn has made it necessary for both private foundations along with federal and city governments to significantly cut funding to non-profit community development groups - SHAD and BADC included. In fact, several Cleveland community organizations have closed or severely reduced service in past years as a result. SHAD remains - as always - committed to the health and sustainability of our communities despite shrinking resources.

So, last year, we decided to be proactive about the situation and have a conversation about how we can expand our collaboration with BADC and use the limited funds to the advantage of our communities. With the financial support of NPI, our key funder and partner, the Board of Trustees of BADC and SHAD created a 12-member steering committee to work with a consultant to explore various options for collaboration. The consultantís task began with several focus groups of community leaders throughout both communities. From these meetings we learned that people are still very passionate about our community - whether it is preserving the identity of each individual neighborhood and commercial district; respecting the voice of each resident, merchant and property owner; or upholding the legacy of collaboration throughout the community and taking advantage of the strength of our collective assets.

A lot of sweat, anxiety and passion have gone into this conversation over the last year and we still are not finished. Our conversation must acknowledge both the financial and business realities of funding and the essential needs of the community. Unfortunately, the current economic situation is causing a dramatic change in our organizationsí future - and we think it can be for the better. We at SHAD feel that, together with BADC, we can create an organization that builds upon the legacy of both organizations. But, this change cannot and will not happen without you - the community. Look for future communications in the coming months for more insight into our organizational strategy as well as our plan for a community engagement process that will give everyone a voice in moving our community forward.

Respectfully,

Kenisha Pierce

Board President
Shaker Square Area Development Corp.

To read this letter on the SHAD website, visit www.SHAD.org, click on The Connection
and then on Winter 2011- 12 Issue  You'll find it on page 3. (Adobe Reader required)