We are rolling around to our biggest drive of the year for membership renewal.
It's a time when we try to show folks what we've been up to, help them take pride in membership and then make the decision to stay the course and support German Village Society for another year.
This year, we have a new Membership Committee chairwoman in Stefanie Martt, who is also a newly elected trustee.
She said she hopes to make this year's membership drive a story about why we love living in German Village (or why non-residents love to shop, dine, stroll here), what we get from our membership dollars and how we value being a part of this vibrant neighborhood.
And, as I suggested in last week's column, you don't have to live here to benefit from the German Village Society's work.
This neighborhood is a boon to all of Central Ohio -- attracting visitors, investment, culture and a sense of place.
The Society's work contributes to why every resident of the greater Columbus area makes a point of bringing out-of-town guests to German Village.
It's a good thing to be a Villager because:
* Our GV property values in 2011 have increased 2.74 percent compared with an 8.5 percent decrease in Columbus overall property values and a 6.41 decrease in Franklin County. In other words, historic preservation works.
* Our neighborhood is a principal destination for visitors to our city.
* Once people visit us, they want to stay. We are attracting young, urban professionals and "empty nesters" who want to have an urban, vibrant and engaged lifestyle.
* We are known nationally for our historic neighborhood and preservation that is principally funded by our homeowners.
* Our parks are showpieces, well used and cared for by our neighbors.
Here is why we call this place home:
* Our neighborhood encourages volunteerism and engagement, which weaves our community together making us a vibrant engaged community.
* We often engage each other at our neighborhood hub, the Meeting Haus -- financed by dedicated members in a capital campaign early in the 1990s.
* Our geographical commonality instills pride, a sense of place and friendships galore.
And here is more that makes us smile and gives us so much pride.
Census figures from 2010 for German Village show we are:
* Young -- 46 percent of residents are ages 20-34.
* Educated -- 65 percent of residents have a bachelor's degree or higher; 25 percent have a master's degree.
* Invested -- 35 percent of homes are valued between $300,000-$1 million.
With the country's fifth-highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies, Columbus needs ways to attract and KEEP the young leaders those businesses employ.
The numbers suggest Columbus' young, urban professionals are attracted to German Village, thus helping the city to reverse the brain drain.
We have so many visitors to German Village because:
* Travel writers love us. Here's but ONE example: "One of the most atmospheric old city neighborhoods in North America. Coastal types pay good money to live in districts that only come close to approaching the charm and scale of this elegant neighborhood crowded with red brick row houses along impossibly well-kept streets." --NY Post.
* Bus tour operators are drawn by our historic, compelling story, driving our 2012 tour bookings to twice the number booked just one year ago.
* In 2012, the German Village Society has partnered with Experience Columbus to update and refresh our tour offerings to attract a whole new set of Columbus visitors.
* Schmidt's Sausage Haus, a premier partner in driving tourism in Columbus, estimates that 70 percent of its business hails from OUTSIDE of a 50-mile radius of the metro.
Schmidt's is a Cornerstone Member business of the German Village Business Community and a decades' long partner with the Society.
* 6,000 people attend our 53-year-old Haus und Garten Tour each summer.
And here is what your membership dollars help us do in behalf of our community:
* Partner with local and state government leaders to take care of our parks, improve our streetscape, attract visitors to Columbus and set a precedent for preservation.
* Support efforts to KEEP and PROTECT the historical character of our properties.
* Provide a Meeting Haus for gathering, celebrating, and encouraging neighbor relationships.
* Provide a Visitor Center to welcome nearly 10,000 visitors a year and help them understand and enjoy the neighborhood.
None of these things happen without your help.
Your membership dollars fuel all of the things you love about the Village.
When the letter comes, answer the call; or stop by the neighborhood hub (aka "The Meeting Haus) today and join our cause.
German Village Society Director Shiloh Todorov submitted the Village Notebook column to the ThisWeek German Village Gazette.