Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman last week announced the first round of "seed" grants to community groups for projects and undertakings aimed at preventing violence in neighborhoods.

Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman last week announced the first round of "seed" grants to community groups for projects and undertakings aimed at preventing violence in neighborhoods.

Of the 26 applicants receiving more than $21,000, one is from the Clintonville area and two are Northland Community Council civic association members.

The grant requests, out of a total of 56 received, were decided upon by the 25 members of the Coalition for a Nonviolent Columbus, which the mayor proposed last summer and formed in late January. He ordered $40,000 to be set aside for funding anti-violence initiatives proposed by citizen groups and organizations, at a maximum of $1,000 each.

"We must keep our neighborhoods safe, not only through enforcement, but also through prevention," Coleman said in announcing the grant recipients. "Through the Coalition for a Nonviolent Columbus, we are reaching out into the grassroots of our neighborhoods to address violence and crime at the street level."

The Strawberry Farms Civic Association and the Scotland Subdivision Block Watch in Forest Park in the Northland area each received the maximum $1,000 grants, as did Wild Goose Creative just south of Clintonville.

The latter's application states that the money is to be used "to purchase paint and supplies for graffiti clean-up," but as befits a nonprofit organization that provides a venue for local artists of all stripes at the 2491 Summit St. headquarters, what's planned is much more artistic in scope.

It's intended, according to Wild Goose Creative general manager Elizabeth "Beth" Dekker, to help fund a mural to cover a graffiti-covered wall at the intersection of Summit and Hudson streets.

"Our goal for the mural is to create something beautiful out of layers and layers of paint that have already been put on there," Dekker said.

A web page created for the SoHud Community Mural Project, which is what the neighborhood is called, said the group is "going to need a lot of help with this project, both in volunteer hours, in-kind donation and financial support. The mural will be an incredible addition to our neighborhood as it will provide a welcoming gateway into our community.

"Not to mention, murals have been shown to deter graffiti better than blank walls, and we all know that our area could use a little graffiti-deterrent."

The organization is in the midst of calling on artists from the neighborhood and surrounding area to be possible project participants, Dekker said. Planning for the mural began in April. The hope is to have the design ready by June and the painting get under way in July, although Dekker admitted it might be difficult to stick to that timetable.

"We're trying to take it one step at a time," she said.

The Strawberry Farms Civic Association will use the grant money to purchase a digital camera and some software as well as create a website to address the growing problem of tagging in the community's park, according to director of public safety Theresa Van Davis.

"I'm from Southern California and believe me, if we had stopped the tagging when it started, we wouldn't have the problem we do today," Van Davis said. "They didn't react as quickly as they might have.

"We wanted to take back the park for our citizens, all our citizens - young people and their children, older people," she added. "We wanted it to be a safe place."

The website will be used to post photos of graffiti that appears in Strawberry Farms Park, informing residents if it's just children scrawling or, more ominously, the work of gang members, according to Van Davis.

The software will enable residents to participate in community conference calls regarding safety issues. The plan is to also enhance Block Watch participation and even organize walking teams to help put a stop to graffiti vandalism, she said.

"I was humbled and honored by the consideration they gave to our application, and really encouraged to make this successful," she said.

The $1,000 awarded to the Scotland Civic Association will help pay for two-way radios to facilitate communication among walking and driving patrols, according to coordinator John McCormack. Flashlights and reflective vests will also be obtained with the funding.

"And we're also going to throw one heck of a Block Watch party to give out educational material to not only our community but surrounding communities to see if we can't get them involved," McCormack said.

The application process was a simple one, he added, and said he's grateful his group's request was granted in this initial round.

"I was extremely excited," McCormack said. "The main members of the block watch, the captains, are extremely excited about it. It gives us more resources that we can get out to the community instead of out of our pockets. This is going to help us expand on a wider basis.

"I would recommend everyone continue to try until they get the grant, if it's possible that they can," he continued. "Don't get discouraged. Don't lose faith. Just because you got turned down once doesn't mean you'll get turned down again. Keep plugging along and it will be a better city."

Northland Community Council president Dave Paul is among the members appointed by Mayor Coleman to the Coalition for a Nonviolent Columbus.

"There was a wide range of proposals, of course, and some were not ultimately selected, but I was impressed at the creativity, generally, of folks," Paul said.

The applications that were turned down this time, or funded for less than the maximum amount, were those seeking support for a one-day event, Paul added. In general, coalition members looked with more favor on proposals that had the potential to create ongoing programs, efforts that could be built upon over time.

"I was very pleased that many of the organizations proposed exactly that kind of thing and the majority of those received the full funding," he said.

The second grant filing period runs through May 31. For the complete grant application and final report form, go to