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Week 2 Reflection

October 3, 2011

Prompt: Dr. Grace made a number of references — both directly and indirectly — to the symbiotic relationship that UC shares with the larger community, historically and now. What are your thoughts following last night’s presentation and our subsequent discussion about the neighborhoods and characteristics of Cincinnati? How does this relate to the readings for this week and the framework that we are establishing relative to community engagement?

 

This is a tricky question, because I wasn’t in class yesterday and therefore didn’t see Dr. Grace’s presentation or the ensuing discussion. So I guess that I’ll try to answer the last part of the prompt in a bit more detail.

For starters, UC is a bit more tightly coupled to the surrounding community than I can tell from a student’s-eye view. It’s the largest employer in the Cincinnati area, employing 9,734 non-student staff with a claimed economic impact of about $1.5 billion. Also, thanks to the co-op system (the first in the world), UC supplies a lot of labor to nearby businesses. This connection goes the other way, as well: UC is a public university and so the state of Ohio invests money into it. To revisit Palen’s description of the community, all of Cincinnati is in the “expanded community of limited liability.” UC has economic and physical ties to Cincinnati, but it doesn’t cohere like the campus community itself does.

The “framework” we have for community engagement, from what I’ve gathered, is that we are looking for ways to create new connections within the community, which promotes altruism and lets a community sustain itself. For example, I got my service hours last year with the Imago Earth Center, which was rehabbing houses in Price Hill and making an “eco-village,” making the houses environmentally friendly by adding rain gardens. This was a great example of promoting community instead of just solving a problem. Not only did we clean up the houses enough to sell, but the “eco-village” concept gave it a sense of identity (it even had little signs for all the houses), and tied in with a community-supported agriculture (CSA) project which let people work together to get cheap fresh produce. So there were multiple connections to hold together the neighborhood.

So what ties UC to this framework? Not too much. The Imago project suggests that you should try to grow a community on a small scale. Focus on the “neighborhood”, where people have a reason to constantly interact with each other and form connections. My fellow students and I were just the labor; we swung shovels and swept floors, and anyone could have filled our role. I don’t think I even met anyone who lived in the new and improved houses. Still, UC is such a big community that it’s an important resource for everything it’s connected to.

Works Cited:

UC facts, University of Cincinnati. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.uc.edu/about/ucfactsheet.html

Enright ridge urban ecovillage. (2011, May 30). Retrieved from enrightecovillage.org

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2 Comments
  1. I liked how you explained the University of Cincinnati’s relationship with the city, particulary how you stated that the school has a great deal of ties with the community, but does not mesh in the same way that the campus community itself does. I also thought that the way you stated the community engagement “framework” was eloquent and very accurate. What do you think could be done to improve UC’s connection with the community? What do you think could have been fixed when preforming your service so that you had a greater connection with the community?

  2. Jessica permalink

    Great work in bridging topics without having the direct experience of our class session. What connections did you find in browsing the collection of the Archives & Rare Books Library, which I linked you to? Let’s make sure you also get the handouts and information about Cincinnati that we covered; I don’t think that happened last week, right?

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