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empowering community voices... finding community solutions

The Voicing and Action Project is an oral and video life narrative research and community bridge-building initiative developed by the CWRU Social Justice Institute. Debuting in the neighboring municipality of East Cleveland, the Institute's collaborative, community-based project gathers and documents residents' personal testimonies as the foundation for empowering residents' voices and contributing to ongoing and future organizing, visioning, education, and revitalization efforts in East Cleveland. East Cleveland residents and stakeholders, as Community Researchers, are gathering the stories of residents, past and present. Our Community Researchers have been certified through the CREC program and trained in oral narrative methodology and advanced audio-visual technologies.

East Cleveland Street, Photo by Peter Whitt Established as a city in 1911, East Cleveland is the oldest suburb of Cleveland, Ohio and one of the largest Black communities in the state. The 3.2 square miles of the city are home to approximately 17,000 people. GE's NELA Park, the world’s oldest industrial park, hosts a Christmas light display that has marked the end of the year for residents for eighty-eight years.



Courtesy of the Snickerfritz Community Time Capsule/
Snickerfritz Art Gallery & Cultural Workshop
Photo by Peter Whitt

Shaw High School, photo by Peter Whitt People in East Cleveland are proud to support Shaw High School in its academic and extracurricular pursuits, especially the marching band. The Shaw High School Marching Band, which traveled to Beijing to perform at the 2008 Olympics, often performs in competitions around the country and has been featured on the evening news multiple times.



Courtesy of the Snickerfritz Community Time Capsule/
Snickerfritz Art Gallery & Cultural Workshop
Photo by Peter Whitt.

Forest Hills Park, Photo by Peter Whitt The East Cleveland Public Library, established 100 years ago as of November 2013 and home to the Greg L. Reese Performing Arts Center, was recently given a five-star rating in Library Journal. This rating marks the ECPL as one of the top libraries in America. Besides the library and high school, other institutions that shape the community include the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center and the East Cleveland Theater. Residents gather for recreation, both spontaneous and organized, at the Forest Hills Park.

Courtesy of the Snickerfritz Community Time Capsule/
Snickerfritz Art Gallery & Cultural Workshop
Photo by Peter Whitt

With active street clubs and community members' organizing efforts through the Northeast Ohio Alliance for Hope (NOAH), the citizens of East Cleveland are rising to meet the challenges of inequality that confront a city with a high poverty rate and declining infrastructure. Residents’ narratives, as shared with the Voicing and Action Project, belie the negative public perception of the city, instead revealing a rich history and strong community bonds.

East Cleveland Map

To learn more about social justice initiatives at Case Western Reserve and how you can be involved, contact the Social Justice Institute at 216.368.2515 or socialjustice@case.edu.

voicing and action project highlighted by WCPN Ideastream

The February 6th edition of the Case Daily e-mail newsletter covered an "Ideastream/PBS" article on the future of East Cleveland and the role the VAP plays in it. Titled "As East Cleveland Works Through Fiscal Emergency, Residents Imagine What's Next", reporter Nick Castele briefly touches on the history and opinions of residents of East Cleveland.

To read this article, click here.

learn about the people behind the project

The Voicing and Action Project is about a series of important ideas:

  • Documenting the stories of the people of East Cleveland

  • Empowering voices

  • Building relationships

  • Mobilizing the community for greater change

  • Analyzing issues of inequality

  • Understanding how the past has shaped the present

  • Helping the East Cleveland and Case Western campus communities imagine a more collaborative future together

  • To learn more about our multifaceted team members, check out their profiles here.