When I moved into the Walnut Hills community almost 20 years ago, I was privileged to learn about my new neighborhood from the elders, many of whom had lived here all their lives. The stories they told were of a thriving, walkable neighborhood where the McMillan storefronts beckoned to people who filled the streets. Their faces glowed and their eyes lit up as they recounted tale after tale.
While their stories were countless, I wondered about the accuracy of their memories in the telling and re-telling of their life adventures. What they talked about was certainly not the Walnut Hills I was experiencing. As I walked McMillan in the 1990’s, blight and crime and apathy were rampant. Vacant storefronts and empty apartments were the ‘welcome’ signs for new residents and visitors. But if one looked carefully, one could see remnants that validated the stories that were being told of the glory days of this neighborhood.
As many of these elders passed on, their stories continued to be told. And those of us they left behind caught the fire and pledged to make this neighborhood the place our elders remembered and kind of place that our children and grandchildren would remember fondly in their years to come.
For the next several years our neighborhood vocabulary and our understanding of concepts such as
transects and walkability indexes and complete streets became the language of our streets. And today, with the adoption of the Form-based Code chapter in our zoning code and the final passage of the Walnut Hills regulating plan by City Council, we are well on our way to making the stories of our elders our experiences of tomorrow.
Thanks to each and every resident who has spent any time over these past six years helping us get to where we are today…a neighborhood that is equipped to do the work today re-creating a thriving community that is our history as well as our future.