Noble's community projects thrive despite pandemic

Don McBride, Bob Rank, Rhonda Mitchell and Marlene Rank installed a Little Free Library at Central Bible Baptist Church.

The pandemic may be altering the usual social patterns, but several projects in Noble are proving to be creative ways to foster community connections.

The Roanoke-Noble Mini-Park continues to transform into a garden of delights. In the spring and summer, a new, curved landscape wall enfolded new, raised beds for perennials and pollinators. The crushed brick diagonal walk was reworked to include river stone. This fall, a Little Free Library, build by a neighbor, was installed in an area dedicated for kids. Seating there, made of natural materials, is perfectly sized for shorter legs. Children can easily grab a new book from the library’s stock (targeted for them) and sit comfortably to read it. Nearby, two new adult-size picnic tables provide relaxation for adults accompanying their children, while giving the kids a space of their own.

Remarkably, and without fanfare, this mini-park is changing the way people feel about their neighborhood by how they engage this outdoor space. Once merely a cut-through between residential areas and the business district, people are stopping to enjoy the vista and one another. It has become a place to pause, relax, and revel in the gift of this beautiful space.

The Delmore Community Orchard has become another neighborhood center. Its open design invites neighbors to sit and enjoy the new growth on the fruit-bearing and pollinator-friendly plants, as well as the flourishing of relationships between neighbors. At the orchard’s open house event in September, neighbors helped plant hundreds of daffodil bulbs. People came from the neighborhood and beyond to donate perennials—including a special effort from the Northeast Ohio Perennial Society—to fill the beds of the “Welcoming Gardens.” Folks from outside the area came to see what so many are talking about—how a city lot-sized orchard could become a community asset. Expectations are high for both a stunning display of color on Delmore Road in the spring, and for growing neighborhood pride.

Northampton Road is the newest site of a Noble neighborhood Pocket Pollinator Project. As Langdon Road residents did for a forerunner project on that street, several Northampton neighbors agreed to plant new front-yard gardens for both beauty and ecological health. Soil-building began last spring with a lasagna-style plant bed preparation. Worms and microorganisms did their work through the summer, providing a healthy habitat for the new plants installed early October.

As with the Langdon project, the cooperative work to install these flower beds is producing its greatest fruit in neighborhood cohesion. Friendships are flourishing; a sense of safety is elevated, due to neighbors working in their front yards more, and sharing gardening tips with one another; and residents are talking about an increasing neighborhood identity.

Planting of a different kind took place in early October on Central Bible Baptist Church's lawn, in partnership with Noble Neighbors' team of Little Free Library builders, where the team "planted" a child-centered free-book give-away treasury. Books for children from the Cleveland Kids Book Bank, Heights Libraries, and neighbors are selected particularly for children of color, reflecting the neighborhood’s demographics. This Little Free Library is already so popular that the volunteers who stock it need to return twice a week to replenish it. For kids, this is a welcome alternative to all the online reading required in these pandemic times.

Noble is home to many creative and caring people who find unique and delightful ways to build up this community.

Brenda H. May

Brenda H. May is one of the Noble Neighbor leaders. Check out their story at

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 6:45 PM, 10.29.2020