Ten Years Later: OTR and Findlay Market

CINCINNATI - If you were in Cincinnati in April of 2001, certain images maybe seared in your memory.

The rage.

The hostility.

The violence.

The sights and sounds of a city seemingly coming apart at theseams.

It's tempting to focus on those dramatic images, but that's notwhat we're going to do. Over the next 30 days, my colleagues atWCPO and I will look not so much at where we were, but how farwe've come since then, and how far we have to go.

We won't ignore the past, but we won't dwell on it either.

Instead, we'll listen. We'll hear from newsmakers, but we reallywant to hear from you and your neighbors about where we are today,10 years after the upheaval.

"Ah, you know, these days, they're telling you you're a nerd tobe smart," said Dorron Hunter, Program Coordinator at MercyFranciscan-St. John. "It's not good to make As. Don't buy intothat."

Ten Years Later/Special section: A changed city?
• Ten Years Later: A changed city?
• What is the Ten Years Later project?
• Ten Years Later video section
• Ten Years Later: Tell us your story

Hunter, one of your neighbors and an apostle of education, workswith the young men's program at Mercy Franciscan/St. John inOver-the-Rhine with 25 young men a week. He is a role model; afather figure to them.

"I was amazed at how many young men down here don't even knowtheir father," said Hunter "I'm not talking about haven't seen 'em.They don't even know 'em."

Hunter pushes back against that with old-fashioned values.

"Never lie, cheat or steal," Hunter said.

And 10 years after the riots, he's seen a change in his boysthat mirrors what's happening in their neighborhood.

"I've seen more police that are engaged in conversation with thepeople that are in the Over-the-Rhine community," Hunter said."I've seen the people in the Over-the-Rhine community try tounderstand the police side of things."

I found another of your neighbors: "Colonel" De Stewart. Stewartowns Colonel De's Herbs and Spices in Findlay Market and ispresident of the market's business association.

Stewart opened for business in 2005 and he says, contrary towhat you might expect, business in the renovated Findlay Market isbooming.

"We are so far ahead of last year that it's ridiculous," Stewartsaid. "And this is our fourth straight year of at least 30 percentgrowth."

Stewart told me that may be the result of a change he's startingto see: Growing numbers of young professionals and retirees comingto the market during the week.

Stewart said the sheriff's patrols a few years ago helped calmcustomers' fears and gradually he started to see the real promiseof Findlay Market: Customers from different races, differentcommunities, different incomes; talking.

"And they will share recipes and at that moment, that's one ofthe most magical things I've ever seen happen," Stewart said. "AndI don't know that that particular transaction between those twopeople would occur anywhere else in this city."

"Before the tumult, everybody said Cincinnati needed to talkabout race," I said to Stewart. "And after the riots, we did talkon TV shows and in community groups for a while. So maybe it'stime, 10 years later, to start talking again about talking."

Hunter and Stewart, living in a rapidly changing Over-the-Rhine,certainly believe in the value of Cincinnatians talking.

"If we could keep the lines of communication open between thepolice, the community and the community leaders I believe thingswill be much better than what I'm seeing right now," Huntersaid.

"I think we're still a little isolated," Stewart said."Hopefully it will come. It'll change."

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