Written by: Tom Rieland
Date: October 21, 2010

The weekly THIS WEEK did a nice review of tonight’s German Village documentary:

WOSU documentary continues village tradition of storytelling

This week’s premiere of WOSU-TV’s “Columbus Neighborhoods: German Village” proves once again the value of German Village’s history within the larger Columbus community, and the special place the neighborhood holds in the hearts and minds of so many. Our neighborhood is a regular stop for so many individuals, families and tour groups throughout central Ohio that we cannot help but be exceptionally proud of our history and how we got to where we are today.

According to WOSU’s press release, “this program is the second of six television documentaries that will air as part of WOSU Public Media’s “Columbus Neighborhoods” project that also includes town hall forums, a website representing over 30 neighborhoods, storytelling events, radio specials and more. The project celebrates the observance of the city’s bicentennial in 2012 and will focus on the creation and surviving traditions of the city’s historic neighborhoods.”

Along with WOSU, the German Village Society’s 50th anniversary committee celebrated in a big way with a sneak preview Oct. 19 at the Arena Grand Theater, and to say it was a success is putting it too mildly. Local restaurants Barcelona, G. Michael’s, Katzinger’s, Max & Erma’s and Schmidt’s Restaurant und Sausage Haus provided a “taste of German Village” before the show, and Barcelona hosted an after-show party at its location on East Whittier Street to finish the night. The incredible collaboration between this entourage of local cheerleaders just goes to show that it really does take a village to make our German Village. And when it is done with such love and devotion to the neighborhood, I’d venture to say it doesn’t feel like a chore.

WOSU pored through the society’s files and photographs for months preparing for this program, and I was honored to be a part of the process as far as sharing materials, information and perspective. A favorite part of my job (that incidentally was not in the job description) is serving as storyteller for our organization and neighborhood. Residents and society members have been a part of so many brochures, highlight reels, award-winning videos and tour stops that we have become expert storytellers and have trained others in the art. It’s hard not to find footage or history about German Village and the society, and, quite frankly, I think it’s because we are a wealth of information, have a fascinating subject and are so willing to share our tangible resources, stories and memories. Having WOSU serve as storyteller this time around was an honor, and the documentary is a treasure we will hold dear as we stare down our next 50 years and the city celebrates is 200th birthday in 2012.

Cindy Gaillard, executive producer for arts and culture at WOSU, noted that a favorite piece of her work with telling our story came through the photographs of early German immigrant families on file at the Meeting Haus. Our collection is not extensive or infinite, but it does offer a great visual to those individuals who came before us in what is now German Village. Gaillard brought those stories to life by using the photographs and, in doing so, showcased the hopes, aspirations and struggles these people had for their brand new life in Columbus. It’s her appreciation of these items that makes me repeatedly encourage today’s villagers to share pictures and leave copies of abstracts of title at the Meeting Haus in our house files. Since we are part of a living, breathing neighborhood, documenting our past and present is never a job that is going to be complete.

The documentary also showcases specific buildings and sites in German Village, as well as firsthand accounts of events that took place. For these tidbits as well as the photos, I’m so appreciative of the focus on history residents have had over the years. Since the society was established in 1960, members have worked to capture what is so unique about German Village, and without question it is the residents. Our buildings make us special, but the ones who built those buildings create our sense of place. The fact that we’ve retained the buildings is icing on the cake.

To be able to highlight our individuals, our structures, our events, our memories and our organization in one video shown on public television is huge, and it is perfect for our golden anniversary. For those of you who missed the screening of the program Oct. 19, it airs on WOSU-TV at 9 p.m. Oct. 21. If you miss this viewing, the society received copies of the program that can be made available for viewing at the Meeting Haus.

Remember, it is by sharing our roots that they become stronger, and this is just one more opportunity to do just that.

Jody Graichen is director of Historic Preservation Programs for the German Village Society.

  • johnrees

    Grote (Donato’s Pizza) said it best, if you’re from the South End, it’s the South End; otherwise it’s the South Side.