Walnut Hills / E. Walnut Hills

Catalytic talent of Walnut Hills speak candidly during the community’s sixth Open Newsroom

Soapbox Cincinnati kicked off International Women’s Month on Friday, March 6, during an On the Ground series of interviews with three women in Walnut Hills who are considered catalytic talent for the neighborhood.

First, Kathryne Gardette spoke with Christina Hartlieb from the Harriet Beecher Stowe House. Hartlieb gave a background on Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author who wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Stowe spent 18 years in Walnut Hills, a neighborhood that was integrated even in her time of the 1830s/40s. Her dad’s college was actually the site of abolitionist debates that marked the first place that black people and white people sat in the same room and talked about slavery.

“People make changes in their society. Harriet Beecher Stowe took an issue — slavery — that many people in the North just didn’t think about, it didn’t affect them, and she made it real for people through her novel,” said Hartlieb.

The Harriet Beecher Stowe House is partnering with the National Underground Freedom Center on a national traveling exhibit that’s coming to Cincinnati later this year. The Harriet Beecher Stowe house, 100 years after the family lived there, became an African-American boarding tavern that was listed in the Green Book, an annual travel guidebook for African-American roadtrippers. This brings a local connection to the Freedom Center’s national exhibit that will be on display.

Next, On the Ground host Kathryn Gardette spoke with Rosie Polter, who is working on the Cincinnati Heritage Project with her Northern Kentucky University classmate Joe Ewald. The two came together for a NKU capstone project.

The Cincinnati Heritage Project is a cause to preserve cultural heritage in three of Cincinnati’s neighborhoods: Walnut Hills, Camp Washington, and Price Hill. Polter and Ewald are working with the City of Cincinnati on the project to collect cultural heritage data that will then be used to create a culture heritage inventory of the neighborhoods.

This inventory begins with citizens filling out forms that are available on the City of Cincinnati building and inspections page. The forms detail and help identify structures that are cultural assets and the time periods they were built.

“We picked Walnut Hills because of its cultural diversity, and we really wanted to capture that … especially when the neighborhood is in a time of transition and rapid redevelopment,” said Polter.

The last interview of the week was with Kelly Carr, lead minister of the Echo Church in Walnut Hills. The church got its name “because we are echoing God’s voice. We are echoing His words into the community and into the world,” said Carr.

Echo Church has been in existence for 15 years, all of them spent in the neighborhood. “We have four values of the church: city, creativity, connectivity, and commission. All of those are really lived out here in Walnut Hills. We tell our churchgoers, even if you don’t live here, invest here in the neighborhood, because we are in Walnut Hills. Go out to lunch after church, etc.”

Carr says the organization chose Walnut Hills to place its roots because: “To see the diversity, to see that everyone matters. We thought, if we’re trying to bring God’s love, and we’re trying to bring that spirit and that relationship one by one, do it in a place where it’s already happening. Join in the effort. Join in the fun. Join in the love.”

Last fall, Carr was tapped to become the new lead minister for Echo. She had been part of a teaching team that took turns preaching. “They said, ‘You’ve been here and you’ve cared for this church, and we’d love for you to step into this role.’ It’s a little bit rare in our group of independent Christian churches for a woman to be a lead minister. In fact there’s only one other, and she’s here in town, too. So there’s something about Cincinnati and the women who bring leadership here.”

To read the entire On the Ground series, click here.

And if you live in Walnut Hills, don’t forget to participate in our Groundsource information gathering project that utilizes a text communication survey tool. Soapbox would like to hear more about your grocery shopping habits since the neighborhood is currently without a neighborhood grocery store. Text “HELLO” to 513-230-6899 to take a short survey and help bring fresh produce back to the neighborhood.

Read more articles by Kacey King Redmond.

Kacey King Redmond is a graduate of Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism and has her MBA from Thomas More University. She has written for various trade publications, associations, and is a published poet and children’s author. She currently specializes in content marketing for her consulting firm, Cincy Marketing Maven, and acts as social media manager for Soapbox Cincinnati and its sister publication, NKY Thrives.