I wish I lived in Antrim Heights. There may be a property development somewhere in Michigan by that name according to my Google search but that’s not what I have in mind. What I have in mind doesn’t involve a move from the community I live in. It involves giving the community I live in a name.
One of the things I’ve noticed is that communities that have a name have an identity. In my city, areas like Clintonville, The Short North, The King-Lincoln district either have maintained, or used the development of an identity, to sustain or revitalize their communities as vibrant mixes of neighborhoods, businesses, and other institutions including schools and libraries. I’ve seen a similar thing as I’ve interacted with people from Youngstown in the series I’ve been doing on Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown. “Named” neighborhoods seem to be doing better than unnamed ones like the one I grew up in.
The area I live in goes under the vague moniker of “far northwest Columbus”. But it struggles to have a real identity. You can live in this area and have a Dublin, Powell, Worthington or Columbus address. The area is served by two different school districts, both among our area’s best. Most of the homes, schools, and businesses were built around 25 to 30 years ago when Columbus expanded to the county line. Then, we were an “outer ring” suburb. Now, we are “inner ring” as development has continued into the county north of us. We have a growing immigrant population, as evidenced by the ethnic groceries in our area. The demographics of our area are changing.
Actually, I think this could make us a more interesting area if we had a clear sense of identity, not only in terms of a name but in terms of the kind of community we were becoming. It seems that this is a time where civic, school, church and business leaders could come together and create a clear sense of community identity as well as identify priorities for strengthening the community for the future. A few years ago, an ad hoc group came together to save a local wetland that a developer wanted to seize. But once they blocked this, the group dissipated. Yet the area still lacks for parks and recreation facilities and only concerted community leadership can address this. Traffic continues to worsen in our area which increasingly serves as a conduit to the suburbs to the north of us in another county. Road widening and sidewalks are desperately needed on the north-south road (Smoky Row Road) that carries much of this traffic.
I think it begins with a name. I choose the name Antrim Heights for two reasons. The Antrim family owned large tracts of land in this area. When we first moved here in 1990, my son could still see cows outside the window of his middle school that were part of their farm. The Heights part is based on the fact that most of this area lies in an elevated area between two rivers, the Olentangy and the Scioto. (I suppose you could call it Mesopotamia as well–the land between two rivers!).
I don’t know what the Antrim family would think of this. I hope they would be honored. What would be best though is if leaders in my community would actually recognize the need to develop something more substantive than “far northwest Columbus” for an identity and to think what kind of community we want this to become. While a name alone won’t do all that our area needs, it serves as a beginning, as a point of pride, a source of identity. I hope one day to live in Antrim Heights, or someplace equally illustrious–right where I am!