I moved from the east side of Shaker Heights to the Shaker Square area of Cleveland in 2007. My husband and I love the urban feel of the Square at the same time that we have access to the beauty of Shaker Lakes. While living in Shaker Heights, I had been a member of the SH League of Women Voters. There I met and worked alongside many committed community members.
Soon after moving to the Square, I became engaged in Barack Obama’s 2008 primary and election campaigns. As Ward 4 Neighborhood Team Leader, I was responsible for recruiting and managing volunteers to “Get Out The Vote.” The staging office was on Buckeye Road. I will never forget the excitement and energy of that election, but one example stands out as a new level of civic engagement.
During the final four days of election weekend, our job was to visit every house in Ward 4 six times, including three times on Election Day itself. We kept track of residents who had voted and crossed their names off our lists with each pass through the neighborhoods. But we couldn’t keep up with the neighborhood kids! The final pass was around 5:00 pm. Volunteers left the office, determined to get every possible voter out the door and to the polls.
On several streets, kids of all ages met them, anxious to tell them who had not yet voted. They pointed to “Mrs. Brown’s” house on the left or “Mr. Tom’s house” on the right. Sure enough, as the volunteers approached the designated houses, voters came out their front doors, saying, “I’m going to the polls now!” or asked volunteers to secure rides for them. The volunteers were happy to oblige, both kids and voters! It was one of many magical community moments in 2008 and 2012.
Mary Reynolds Powell grew up in NYC and lived in Colorado, Michigan, and upstate NY before moving to the Cleveland area in 1989. She currently lives in Cleveland’s Shaker Square neighborhood and is engaged in community activities.
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About the program
Who We Are, Where We Live is a free community writing program giving voice to people who live and work in the Buckeye/Shaker community. Participants write stories, learn about their neighborhood, and share with their neighbors. Annually, selected writings are published here in an online anthology and presented at a final reading and celebration.