Carolyn Cooper

Glenville: The Transformation of a Community Into a Neighborhood 

Northeast · Glenville · Essay

Google’s Online Dictionary describes a COMMUNITY as being:
1. A group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.
2. A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

And it describes a NEIGHBORHOOD as simply being:
1. The area surrounding a particular place, person, or object.

Growing up in the Glenville community was an awesome experience for me, because I felt completely safe in my ward. And I can recall so many beautiful childhood memories.

I had such a wonderful, loving family! I grew up the youngest and the only female amongst two older siblings in a two-parent, middle-class household. Also, I loved my best friend’s large nine-member family, who all lived in the house next door to me for many years.

Additionally, I’m very proud that I received a stellar education in the Cleveland public school system. Through my elementary school’s French Club, I was able to study abroad in France (at the tender age of eleven years old) and celebrate my twelfth birthday in that beautiful country.

During my school years, I loved how all of the parents in the community always supported each other, supported the neighborhood children, helped our teachers, and our principal.

Our mothers were the unsalaried lunch ladies, the paraprofessionals, the assistant librarians, and the school secretaries.

Plus, our dads attended weekly fathers’ club meetings, attended our school events, and accompanied us on field trips. Parents were practically the school staff and were always willing to help out.

I can remember after working a night nursing shift, my mom would stay up to fry chicken and make side dishes. Then she would brown bag the food to provide individual lunches for my entire class, my teacher, and the other parent chaperones attending the field trip.

Another classmate’s mom would bake cakes, slice them, and individually wrap them to add to our lunches. Yet another would pack bags of ice, bottled water, juice boxes, paper napkins, paper plates, and utensils to contribute to our class.

No one ever asked the parents to do this or reimbursed any of them. They always volunteered and donated whatever they could, because we were one big extended family.

Furthermore, when someone passed away in the community, everyone comforted the grieving family and expressed sympathy for their loss.

Meals were delivered to their homes, cards containing monetary gifts were placed in their hands, flowers were ordered and delivered to the funeral home, and the neighborhood shed tears with them at the “homegoing” service.

Flash-forward to this present day. The once pleasant, giving, caring, well-manicured Glenville community has transformed into a neighborhood filled with crime, trash, jealously, hate, drug abuse, gunshots, many vacant houses, a lot of run down streets, and multiple grassy lots.

Gone are the majority of parents and grandparents who were once the cornerstones of this community. They have all transitioned into our ancestors—bequeathing property to their children and grandchildren.

However, most of their bloodlines failed to carry out the community values of the past. Many of their historic houses fell into foreclosure and are now condemned or were demolished due to unpaid property taxes.

Gone are most of the children and grandchildren from this neighborhood. They left and are now raising their families elsewhere.

If Glenville could talk, it would tell all of its listeners how great it once was, and how living in a community is far greater than just surviving in a neighborhood.

Carolyn Cooper

Carolyn Cooper was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. She is a graduate of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Kent State University. She still resides on the east side of Cleveland and represents the Glenville neighborhood.


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