Tag Archives: community

“Summer Jam West brightens Hilltop”

“Summer Jam West brightens Hilltop”

True leadership is not about being a part of an organization or becoming involved with the status quo. Patti Von Niessen​ is a true inspiration and a much needed visionary in bringing quality events to the Columbus Westside Hilltop. She accomplished this without affiliation but rather taking her vision in bringing art to our community. In doing so she brought people from all cultures together, to mingle, eat, enjoy art, enjoy music, and make new friends. She has accomplished more in bringing people together with a solid theme of activities, events, and learning in the past 4 years than any organization here on the Columbus Westside Hilltop has attempted to do in the past 25 years. This in my opinion makes for a true leader, an inspiration for us all!


By Andrew Keiper
The Columbus Dispatch

Posted Jul 8, 2017 at 9:01 PM
Updated Jul 8, 2017 at 9:01 PM


Laughter rises from the mingling crowd, mixing with music booming across Westgate Park and the smoke from the eclectic array of food trucks. For an afternoon, all is right on the Hilltop.
The fourth annual Summer Jam West arts and culture festival kicked off early Saturday afternoon, bringing in a diverse group of community members, artists and vendors. From a children’s face-painting tent and a local ice cream shop to a broad display of area bands, the festival hosted a bevy of Columbus offerings.
The festival is an attempt to break down the formal cultural and physical distance that make Downtown galleries often inaccessible to Hilltop residents, said Patti Von Niessen, the executive director of the Summer Jam West nonprofit.
“Being able to have art brought to them is huge,” Von Niessen said. “We’re an art desert out here. There’s virtually no public art.”
This year’s theme is “Moving and Grooving,” and, per tradition, a huge mural was painted to commemorate it. Local artist Roger Williams donated his time and talents to complete the massive 95-foot-long painting along the nearby Camp Chase Trail. Murals from years past can be found dotting Westgate Park.
Von Niessen has been a neighborhood resident since 2009, and began the organization in 2012. What started as a modest 1,000-attendee festival has blossomed to attract an estimated 6,000 this year, taking up most of Westgate Park’s 43 acres.
Brian Marcus, Hilltop resident and local artist, has witnessed the growth and positive effects of the festival over the years. His hand-drawn, psychedelic artwork decorated his vendor’s tent, which he said was meant to help showcase the creativity of the community rather than turn a profit.
Marcus was commissioned by Von Niessen’s organization to paint a panel that was awarded to a local business for quality work in the community. Such initiatives aren’t uncommon for Summer Jam West, which Von Niessen said tries to proliferate permanent art installations throughout the neighborhood.
“We keep as much of our money on the Hilltop as possible,” she said. “We try and live up to our socialist attitude, you know?”

Her hyperlocal commitment is recognized by a wide coalition of sponsors from across Columbus. The $30,000 festival is made possible by donations from Heartland Bank, Greater Columbus Arts Council, Ohio Arts Council, Hollywood Casino and Puffin Foundation West, to name a few.
Summer Jam West is a welcome change of pace for community members and local police officers alike.
Horse-mounted and K-9 officers watched as children played with the animals, a cruiser was open for kids to inspect and take photographs, and patrol officers roamed the park grounds with ice cream or fried chicken in their hands.
Brian Newsome, a community liaison officer for the Hilltop precinct, has worked at the festival for the past several years. He’s noticed the benefits brought on by the artistic initiatives of Summer Jam West.
The event, which he said has remained peaceful in years past, helps to revitalize and bond the neighborhood.
“Just trying to bring back that neighborhood feel of community, to know your neighbor,” Newsome said. “I just think all around, it makes it more of a community event.”



Celebrating Pride is more than just celebrating with one’s own “kind”

Proud to live in my neighborhood and be who I am. Now it wasn’t this way when I first bought my house and moved on the block in 2005. I was called many a name, threatened but I made claim that I now lived here and I was now a part of the hood. I made a great home, awesome yard and lawn, always out doing something in the yard and garden. Cleaned my sidewalks, swept my curb and smiled and chatted with the watching neighbors. I got rid of the neighborhood drug house who ruled the street before I moved in and started a block watch. I stayed and a couple others of my “kind” moved in as well. They also made a great home, tended to their homes, yards and gardens and live their lives just like everyone else on the street.

Today, I see nice lawns, gardens, neighbors chatting, neighbors sitting on their front porches (something not really observed before) and overall a friendly quiet street. I chat with my neighbors daily about the weather, life, the street, families, etc. My point here is that I am proud of who I am but most importantly I’m proud that people see me as a strong neighborly person in the neighborhood who by the way happens to be gay.


Toxic Charity

Homeless      We do not need another homeless facility here on the Westside-Hilltop! Especially it being 62,000 square feet of unfinished warehouse space on five acres. The shelter is located at 595 Van Buren Drive near Harmon and Mound. This structure has stood empty for two years. As you recall the other emergency shelter on the far west side at Lincoln Village ended up having to “bus” homeless people from other areas of the city to the facility. So here we go again! We will again have to have busing to this new facility. Why can’t emergency shelters be built in other areas of the city? Why do we have to absorb this population or allow people to have to be bused from areas of the city that they “reside” in to our side of town? Seems that a better model would be to have smaller emergency shelters in all quadrants of the city. Why does the Westside-Hilltop have to become a warehouse and/or dumping ground for the City’s unwanted situations? Homelessness is a problem for all of society and as I mentioned before just providing a shelter does not alleviate the problem it just contains it and doesn’t address the underlying issue. In my opinion it just moves the problem to our side of the city because we have weak leaders and we are complacent and we get so excited because a use has been found for a two year vacant structure. I say NO! Let’s put shelters in all quadrants of the City of Columbus, ESPECIALLY one downtown since it is centrally located. Putting a 62,000 square foot facility on the Westside-Hilltop is central in what way?

I encourage residents to speak up at one of the two meetings being presented next week.

This is just another band-aid. We all feel good about providing food, clothing and shelter for “people experiencing homelessness” and granted just as the phrase implies there is a need for this but we do have a substantial population of homeless people who do this by choice or more importantly people who need help either because of health or not having the ability to secure jobs because they are already in this tier. I would like to hear more about providing services to get these people off the street permanently instead of building more facilities to house them.

Paraphrasing from a good read: We fault the government for decades of failed social programs, yet frequently we embrace similar forms of disempowering charity through our kindhearted giving. Free food and clothing distribution encourages ever-growing handout lines, diminishing the dignity of the poor while increasing their dependency. We converge in our communities to plant flowers and pick up trash, bruising the pride of resident who have the capacity (and responsibility) to beautify their own environments. Giving to those in need instead of their own initiative may well be the kindest way to destroy people. – Toxic Charity by Robert D. Lupton
From: Sara Loken [scloken@csb.org]
Sent: Wednesday, October 09, 2013 1:54 PM
To: Hooie, David E
Subject: new shelter announced

The Community Shelter Board plans to open a new emergency shelter next year in the West Edge Business Center. This shelter will provide a warm, safe place to spend the night for men, women and families who are experiencing homelessness. It will also provide outstanding services – to help people move more easily and quickly into stable housing. The new shelter is located at 595Van Buren Drive near Harmon and Mound Streets.

We would like to introduce the project to nearby neighbors and businesses, and we welcome your input. Initial public meetings have been scheduled. Please see the attached materials.

Thank you,
Sara Loken
Community Relations Director
111 Liberty Street, Suite 150
Columbus, OH 43215
614-221-9195 x106
Attend this meeting and make your voice heard!


Absentee property owners and abandoned properties are a major concern and heartache for community citizens.


157 N Powell Ave, Columbus, OH 43204

Absentee property owners and abandoned properties are a major concern and heartache for community citizens.  We struggle with City of Columbus services in getting issued resolved and we are told time and time again that nothing can be done or if a code violation is filed nothing can be done as well because the property owners cannot be reached.  As a society and living together in an urban setting one cannot say that they have a right to allow a property they own to go in disrepair.  This process not only degrades the neighborhood but it also brings in crime and follows with lower property values for other property owners in that neighborhood.  Additionally it has been proven time and time again that when you allow graffiti, unkept properties, trash, and unkept alley conditions to come into your neighborhood, you will definitely see the crime element move in from drug houses, vandalism, theft, and prostitution.  This is why we as community citizens need to be vigilant and keep up our neighborhoods.  This means to get on the property owners either directly or indirectly that we as a neighborhood will not tolerate such activity.  Document, report, and followup!  You have a responsibility not only to your neighborhood but also to the future value of your property as well!

The City of Columbus and Franklin County needs to toughen up the laws regarding this.  Some examples:

1.  Any property in the City of Columbus that rents their property out needs to be listed with Franklin County Auditor site, [http://www.franklincountyoh.metacama.com/altIndex.jsp],  as a rental property.

2.  The Franklin County Auditor site needs to maintain better records in providing accurate methods of contacting these property owners.  That means a valid telephone number or email address be included every year when these property owners file their property taxes.

3.  Fines need to be assessed directly to the property owner and not against the property itself.

4.  If a property owner cannot be reached for code violations for a period of one year, then the property needs to be confiscated and brought back up to code and community standard or to be torn down.

5.  Better advocacy and laws need to be established for citizens ending up renting from these absentee property owners [slumlords].  These citizens tend to be of a disadvantaged economic standing and tend to be afraid to address their landlords with property issues in fear of being evicted.

This is an ever growing problem and we need to come together both from a community advocacy and from a city and county prospective.  The city and county needs to hire more personnel to address this issue as well as community citizens needing to stand their ground and not allow these conditions to go unresolved.  This means constant advocacy and vigilance from our community citizens to demand our city and county to step it up!
Neighbors Frustrated Police Can’t Stop Crimes At Abandoned Homes

====Article displayed below, ©2013 by 10TV.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.=================================

COLUMBUS – Imagine witnessing a crime, calling the police and then being told there’s nothing they can do about it.

That’s the situation frustrating neighbors trying to keep crime out of their East Columbus neighborhood.

Joyce Calamese loves the history and charm of her Old Oaks neighborhood.

She says one of the problems holding the neighborhood back is vacant, abandoned properties.

There is one next door to her home she says has been vacant for 5 to 6 years.

But the nuisance next door became more than that on August 31st.

“We heard a lot of noise, and my daugther saw a man climbing out of the window, so we called police,” said Calamese.

Calamese said the officers responded, and found a man inside the house. But instead of arresting the intruder, they sent him on his way.

“The officer said there’s nothing you can do about it because really you have no victim,” Calamese said.  “After the police officers left, another guy came back and started taking windows out of the back.”

Columbus Police and even the City Attorney’s Office say those officers were correct.

Bill Hedrick with the City Attorney’s Office says he understands and shares Joyce’s frustration.

“In the end, the law requires you to have an accuser, and the accuser is the person that owns the property,” said Hedrick.

Hedrick said that includes crimes with witnesses.

“For instance, if you saw somebody take money from my wallet, but I’m not willing to file the charge, the case cannot be pursued,” he said.

Joyce and her neighbors disagree.  They say they are also victims because they live near the crime.

The city isn’t completely powerless when it comes to vacant properties.

If the building has been declared legally abandoned by the city, the city then becomes the violated party or the “victim”, and police can arrest anyone they find inside.

The City Attorney’s office says neighbors can request help by calling 3-1-1 [614-645-3111] or visiting this link.