Training communities to take the reins on revitalization

The first community training series began June 8 and will run every Friday at the Firehouse Museum from 11:30am to 1:00pm until October 19. Assembled through a partnership between Invest in Neighborhoods and the Community Building Institute, the series seeks to give community members the skills to promote their own redevelopment.

Elizabeth Bartley, Executive Director, Invest in Neighborhoods“So much is rapidly changing in all Cincinnati neighborhoods as re-urbanization has ramped over the last 8 years or so,” explains Elizabeth Bartley, executive director of Invest in Neighborhoods. “We could have devised a multitude of stand-alone events or training sessions, instead we decided to do it as an overarching series around an issue which has been loud and clear as an important subject matter: Neighborhood Revitalization.”


The meetings are held in the style of a “Friday lunch,” explains Elizabeth Blume, executive director of Community Building Institute. “The basis is there is a whole slew of topics people have talked about.” These sessions allow attendees to discuss as well as hear from experts in those topics. Blume explains their effort to bring speakers from around town. Blume and Bartley looked at a topic and then asked, “Where in town are we doing that.”

Blume talks of their goal of “Lifting up what we’re doing really well.”

The training sessions, which can act as both series and stand-alone sessions. “Not all individuals or neighborhoods are in the same ‘place’ if revitalization is looked at as a process,” Bartley explains. So, the sessions are broken down to three stages: Strategic Development: Getting Started; Planning: Getting Organized, and Partnerships: Growing your Organization.

“Within those are multiple sessions looking at 'how-to', best practices, and community examples,” Explains Bartley, “For example - under Strategic Development we did a session on how to extend your reach into your neighborhood; under Planning we have a session about creating a community vision, and Partnerships one dedicated to regional initiatives.”

While there is a core group attending the session, the turnout has been steady and varied and provided opportunities for Cincinnatians all over to connect.

“We have had a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences in those who are attending: people attending have varied from people new to a community council or a neighborhood organization, people who have worked in the community but are changing roles, or people who want to get grounded in the A-Z of neighborhood revitalization and want to understand how their piece fits into the whole,” says Bartley.


A partnership established in 1995 between Xavier University and United Way of Greater Cincinnati, Community Building Institute strives to help communities promote their own development by emphasizing existing skill and assets.

Invest in Neighborhoods is a nonprofit established in 1982 to promote the community councils that represent Cincinnati’s 51 neighborhoods through self-sufficiency and leadership.

“People tend to think of civic work as community councils, but it’s so much more, it’s recreation centers, schools, teams, churches, businesses,” says Blume. “Community civic work should be enjoyable. If people are interested - join, please, come. We’d love to have everyone. We have snacks.”

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Read more articles by Emily Dillingham.

Emily Dillingham is a Cincinnati native and University of Cincinnati graduate with degrees in English and Geology. She writes full-time for a local material science company and lives in Brighton with her husband and pack of dogs. Follow her on Instagram @keeperoftheplants