STEUBENVILLE — Updates on Seventh Street Plaza and a dream about developing a ministry corridor in downtown Steubenville are topics Urban Mission Ministries hopes the public will want to weigh in at a community meeting on Tuesday.
An opportunity to “listen, share and dream of the future” is part of the free rally that will run from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Seventh Street Plaza and will include food, according to the Reverend Ashley Steele, executive director of the mission.
Everyone is invited to attend the meeting organized by the mission and led by representatives of the Rothschild Doyno Collaborative of Pittsburgh, an architecture and urban design firm.
The mission has been working with the firm since the beginning of the year. Steele explained why.
“We wanted to review all of our ministry sites because the square has inspired us to review all of our ministry sites to make sure we are using them to the best of our ability, that we are making sure that what we do in each building responds in done to a need in the community,” Steele started. “And that’s just to create a more cohesive feel, even a look for each of our buildings so that when you walk past it, you’d be like, ‘Oh, this looks like an Urban Mission Ministries site, because we’re kinda little scattered.
“From a practical point of view, working with someone who has that area of expertise is good for us anyway because we have to make sure that we present ourselves in a good way in the community, so that people people know where they are going if they need to access a service”, she continued.
“But the other part is that because they are urban designers, they help us think about how do we make the most of every ministry space we have, how do we create coherence with our buildings, but also how do we connect them in a way that makes sense so they’ve focused on not just the plaza – even though that’s our anchor – but our warehouse complements that and our War Memorial building complements that and even the green space complements whatever is going to take place in that immediate area,” she said, referring to the garden in front of the warehouse.
“They’ve worked a lot with organizations like ours, from homeless shelters to food pantries to thrift stores, so they understand what we’re doing and they’re going to try to help us figure out how to do it better with this. That we have. and use them effectively. Steele said.
“We want to be good stewards of what has been given to us, and while we have a pretty good idea of our shelters and the function they will use and are already using, along with some of our other spaces, it there’s room for creativity and growth, so that’s what they help us discern. They help us understand that,” she added.
“Their unique approach that we liked that they used before with other shelters, pantries and thrift stores in the Pittsburgh area is to get as much community feedback as possible. For them to have a really good idea of who we are, they also need to know what the community thinks and how the community sees us,” she says.
Although they generated some comments, more are welcome, and a good turnout on Tuesday would help with that.
“It would be beneficial for them and, for us, exciting to see our people who have some interest in the mission, whether they are donors or volunteers or people who use our services or our neighbours”, Steele explained.
Work to date has included investigations, site walks, interviews and meetings with, for example, Steubenville City Council members and Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce leaders.
“They’re taking an asset-based approach, so they’re building on the good, so the things that are already working here in the community, they’re building on that, which we love,” Steele said, adding, “They tell us about us.”
It’s about what’s going well but opportunities for improvement across all of the ministry’s sites, according to Steele.
“We learned that in many areas we meet the needs of the community,” she says,
“What we’re still looking at is what else or how could we serve the community better, especially through the square, especially through this space, and we just want to make sure that whatever we have already set up in terms of testing what we want to do in these spaces, always matches the needs and wants of the community,” Steele continued.
The role of the cabinet is also to help the mission to seek new opportunities.
“That’s still to be determined, but I think even at this community meeting they’re going to share some opportunities that they see, and they want to test them with those who are there to allow them to add their comments,” Steele said.
Another community meeting will be held this summer and from all of this recommendations will eventually surface.
“That will definitely shape the things we do next year, the next five years, the next 10 years,” she says. “We know that from a priority standpoint, the square must be our first priority in terms of starting the renovation and completing it in a timely manner depending on the grants we have and other obligations.”
Steele is excited about the reunion’s potential and hopes for a good turnout.
“I really think it’s going to be an inspiring night because we’ll hear from others from their perspective and so far their perspective has been really good.
“For us, it’s fun to see the Urban Mission because it’s something we’ve been planning, praying and preparing for, and now it’s getting more real every day.”
(Kiaski can be contacted at [email protected])