CINCINNATI -- The crowded Thursday night gathering on Hawaiian Terrace had music, drinks and free hot dogs, but it was more than a block party. Gladys Pope hopes it can be the start of a renaissance for the Mount Airy street, which makes the news for episodes of violence more than anything else.
The key to that rebirth, she said, is fostering a feeling of connectedness and empowerment among people who live there.
"We're trying to establish a place in the community where the residents have their own civic space to sort of come together and make the changes they want to see in their own communities," she said.
Pope is the president of the Mount Airy Town Council, which makes decisions that affect the larger neighborhood in which Hawaiian Terrace is located. However, she said she wants to re-establish the Hawaiian Terrace Residents Council to focus specifically on improving the street.
In the meantime, she's dealing with most nearby incidents in town council meetings. When a mail carrier was attacked on Hawaiian Terrace, resulting in United States Postal Service drivers halting direct deliveries to addresses on the street, she and members of the Cincinnati Police Department met with the community to discuss what had happened.
Houston Andrews, another community advocate, said he believes children are the key to changing the community. He hopes Hawaiian Terrace residents can come together to find a productive, supervised outlet for the young people who live there.
"The community helps to guide the children," he said. "If they know people are watching and know that there's an adult that's going to see it and report it, then they'll be reluctant to do it."
Pope collected signatures to re-form the residents council Thursday night and said the response had been positive. Her next project: Finding a solution for the mail situation.