German Village Gazette

Village notebook

Tea 43206 funds essential to preservation projects

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Tea 43206 may be known for its fabulous hats, but German Village Society officials say it is in fact a critical part of the Society's ability to fund mission-centric programs. Nora Dorrian and Regina Acosta Tobin are just two members of the "peloton" who are dedicated to the mission and attended the most recent Tea 43206.
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Vision and passion count so much -- almost more than anything else -- when it comes to making a nonprofit organization thrive.

An individual or a group sees something they care about deeply and then they get creative about how to fix or improve it.

Take the example covered in a recent Columbus Dispatch edition about Fred Roecker.

He was in the hospital for an awful stem-cell transplant during the first Pelotonia ride in 2009.

By this year, he had not only taken to the course himself, he's rounded up a half-dozen friends for a peloton and they've raised $15,000 to fight the cancer that threatened Fred's life.

In German Village, perhaps our latest and greatest example is Tea 43206 -- begun in 2011 by Darci Congrove and John Pribble.

They identified a need for a list of preservation projects that the Society's operating budget couldn't afford, and then they went about fixing it.

"We started the event and the Fund for Historic Preservation, because we felt that GVS needed to have funding specific to its historic preservation mission, and the budget wasn't supporting it at the time," Darci said.

When final results for the 2013 event are released at the September German Village Society Board of Trustees meeting, we will report more than $45,000 raised toward the effort in just three years.

Vision and passion count.

And like Fred Roecker, Darci and John know how to bring other people to the team.

Their "peloton" starts with their closest friends family, who help cook, bake, decorate, donate, organize and clean up.

Then they add in the resources of their staff at the German Village Guest House -- the presenting sponsor of Tea 43206.

But then they invite in all of us who most fervently share their passion for preservation in German Village.

These are GVS members, donors, partners and friends. We see the vision of a vibrant, celebrated neighborhood that is critical to all of Central Ohio as a preservation leader, a unique place to visit, and an unmatched place to live and work. That's a pretty powerful network.

Tea funds have already been spent to buy our PastPerfect software. This is a program built for organizations like ours that allows us to track our members and donors, but also to catalog and digitize our archives.

How cool will it be when you can browse your house file from your living room instead of our Meeting Haus back room? That's where we're headed once this project is complete, and the project relies on the software.

Tea funds also allowed us to alter the Columbus Health Department's Art Walk signs.

All over the city, you'll see those signs have a BRIGHT green alongside the dark blue. German Village Art Walk signs have the blue with a toned-down brown befitting our bricks. That project relied on Tea money.

The next big project Darci and John hope to tackle with Tea money is a comprehensive sign project.

Despite our 40-year existence on the National Register of Historic Places, we've never quite connected on some of the trappings of a historic neighborhood.

Picture Georgetown, Boston, Savannah -- even Dublin, Ohio, has a more complete signs approach than our beloved German Village.

The sign project seeks to place historic street signs, historical markers, storytelling plaques at specific locations and directional signs to help visitor's answer the age-old question: Where's Schmidt's?

"We came to the idea of signage pretty quickly because we have hosted thousands of visitors at (the German Village Guest House) who come because of the history and the neighborhood," Darci said.

"People outside Columbus seem to know more about our 'special' neighborhood than those that are close," she said.

"In our travels, we have always sought the cool historic districts, and have generally found signage that guides us when we get there, and that signifies the importance of the place," Darci said.

"Signage will benefit residents, visitors and Columbus natives by signifying that this place matters."

National preservation experts say they worry that without signs, no one in an historic district will focus on preservation issues.

Additionally, preservation researchers contend signs and markers add value to homes in an historic district.

These stories increase property values and create a greater likelihood that our neighborhood will continue to be cared for in the future because visitors and residents alike will have a greater understanding of that which surrounds them.

It takes vision to understand these outcomes and to pursue a years-long project like the signs.

But Darci and John have shared it with all of us, and German Village Society will never thank them enough for their passion to get it done.

I thank not only them, but each and every one of YOU who are helping support their work.

German Village Society Director Shiloh Todorov submitted the Village notebook column.

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