“We are in this together,” started Jackson Patterson at last night’s Main Street West’s first Community Meeting in Harmar. “Seeing you all here tonight, I can tell the community’s heart is in it.”

More than 115 local residents attended the dinner and meeting hosted by Main Street West at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Harmar Village. The event was open and free for all to attend, thanks in part to generous donations from Boathouse BBQ, The Busy Bee, and the Knights of Columbus Hall. Guests were invited to enjoy a meal together and participate in a conversation about the strengths, challenges, and needs of the Harmar community.

Main Street West is a new initiative through Marietta Main Street focused solely on the revitalization of Harmar. The Main Street West committee, led by Jackson and Fourth Ward City Councilman Geoff Schenkel, wanted to create a space for the community to ask and answer questions like “What is the future of Harmar?,” What are Harmar’s strengths and challenges?” and “How can we work together to achieve a common vision for growth on Marietta’s west side?” Placemats were used to collect input on these and other questions so that all felt encouraged to participate, even if they did not feel comfortable speaking up in front of the large group. Committee members captured all ideas, thoughts, and concerns and will be consolidating the data and sharing the results with the community at a future meeting.

There is power in a community that comes together.

Jackson and Geoff were both pleased with the turn out and participation by Harmar community members. While there was no obligation for guests to stay for the meeting that followed the dinner, all remained to join in the discussion.

“There is power in a community that comes together,” said Cristie Thomas, Executive Director of Marietta Main Street. “I know that when 115 people gather in the same space willing to work together to strengthen their community, to talk about it, see where it’s failing and see where it’s succeeding – it’s special.”

As evidenced by the passion shared with each idea and concern, the community of Harmar felt the same way. “I think this dinner and meeting is a good idea,” said Mark Swaney, to The Marietta Times. “You have to start somewhere. We need a lot of things and have some work to do.”

We have so much rich history in Harmar Village, everyone here can be part of Main Street West.

“It was great to have people believe in the same potential as I do,” said Jackson. “I talk a lot about building hope back into the community and setting goals together to make dreams a reality. I believe dreams without goals are just dreams in the end.”

Community members at Main Street West's first Community Meeting

Ideas shared ranged from transportation improvements and clean-up efforts to potential events that Harmar might host. One community member stressed the importance of speaking up and making needs known; another wanted to see Harmar Beach brought back.

“We have so much rich history in Harmar Village, everyone here can be part of Main Street West,” Jackson ended, to a resounding applause that rang throughout the room. Although the first meeting had come to an end, the hope visible on one hundred faces made clear that this was only the beginning of great things to come.

For those interested in being involved, Main Street West’s next meeting will be Monday, July 16th at 5:30 p.m. in the Great Room at Andrew’s Hall as part of Marietta Main Street’s Community Meeting. All are invited to attend.