To make change in the world or in this case the neighborhood, people need to feel empowered. The Ballot Box, through intense community decision-making did just that. During the typical planning process with community impute, residents meet, share their opinions, and the planners take that information to form their plan. The Ballot Box Project was resident led. They created the ideas, they voted on the ideas, and they helped implement those ideas.
The community discussions and voting resulted in nine amazing projects that were supported by the neighborhood. Those projects are in Collinwood history, healthy eating, youth engagement, and vacancy.
Stephen Bivens project was This is Collinwood: History in Everyday People. Stephen took his camera throughout the neighborhood to institutions, businesses, and residences to photograph the people of Collinwood. These are the people who will one day be a part of the neighborhood’s history. He was able to capture the images of 158 people, and those photos were on display at a neighborhood bar and a coffee shop.
Benjamin Smith created a mobile recording studio called the Splice-Cream Truck. The idea behind the truck was to record peoples stories in exchange for ice cream. He worked with a local pastry chef to develop a healthy treat leaving people wanting seconds. The first season of operations he did not get as many stories as he hoped. Despite that, road the Splice-Cream Truck was already a big hit with the musicians and sponsors of Afropunk Fest in Brooklyn. This truck will certainly be around town and the country.
Lori Kella collaborated with community gardeners and cooks to create the Grow.Cook.Collinwood Cookbook. This book encourages eating locally. With recipes feature ingredients that come out of the Great Lakes region such as acorn squash, tomatoes, and Lake Erie Perch. After sourcing recipes, Lori would make the food and photograph it. The complete book is available for purchase at cost for only $10.
Kevin Scheuring is the market manager of the nearby Coit Road Farmer’s Market and brought Collinwood three Eat Local Food Shows. These shows featured food that was available at the market. Residents were able to try new flavors, learn to properly use knives, and how to quick pickle foods to liven their meals. Guests were welcomed with live music and art activities for the kids.
Linda Zolten Wood created and designed Operation Vegetables: The Giant Board Game of Yummy Health. With the help of neighborhood youth, she created veggie superheroes and villains that are found in the board game. She has hand painted three games. Two are life-size where the kids are the pieces. The third is a table top version available for kids. She completed a successful Ioby campaign to raise funds to bring this game into additional communities.
Cindy Barber brought youth jobs to Collinwood with Rickshaws of Waterloo. As a trained writer known for the famous Beachland Ballroom, Cindy knew the rickshaws would be a great way to teach the art of storytelling while earning a stipend. The youth got to meet businesses on the street and make store recommendations to visitors.
Bridget Caswell through the Collinwood Camera Club exposed at risk teens to a plentitude of careers available to photographers. When the club first began some had a passing interest in photography. By the end of summer, these youth saw the possibilities of becoming a professional. After providing the neighborhood with free photoshoots and taking photos in the neighborhood, the project concluded with a gallery exhibit- the first time attending this type of event by a majority of the students and their families. Their photos were available for purchase, and all of the students sold some of their pieces.
Margaret Craig is performance artists passionate about youth. With her Neighborhood Arts Ambassadors project, she exposed 12 young adults to performing arts. In return, those youth connected the neighborhood to the vibrant Waterloo Arts and Entertainment District. This project was more than just an art class. To them, it was a job! The students received a small stipend to share their knowledge with the community.
Michael Hudecek of Upcycle Parts Shop sees potential in vacant buildings. Diverting materials from the landfill his project Craftup Collinwood brought new life to the commercial corridor. Working with residents, they created art from upcycled materials. This art was displayed in multiple storefronts. During installation, conversations happened between Michael and those who passed by about the future of the store. This project lead to real results- a building sold and another was rented. Making results one bottle cap at a time.