Neighborhoods Summit a second-year success for 17Strong group in Hamilton

Art in the Park just one example of ‘dreamers becoming doers,’ mayor says; energized crowd aims to keep improving the city

Credit: Hamilton Community Foundation

Credit: Hamilton Community Foundation

Robin Szary would call herself many things; an educator, a director and a founder. But most importantly; a product of Hamilton.

She was raised in Hamilton and graduated from Hamilton High School before she returned to the school district as a teacher at Fairwood Elementary. That’s where she asked her fourth-grade class what they wanted in their neighborhood. They immediately said “A pool.” Thinking this was a little far-fetched for what she could do, she asked what else they wanted.

That’s when “Art in the Park” was born. Since she founded it in 2016, it’s grown from Moser Park to seven parks across seven different neighborhoods.

On June 22, she told her story to fellow Hamiltonians at 17Strong’s second annual Hamilton Neighborhoods Summit. She led one of 17 small-group sessions that comprised the day’s activity.

Like other stories told at the Summit, it represented Hamiltonians who want to see their city prosper.

“Getting the community on board has been essential to me continuing what I do,” Szary said. “If I didn’t have the support, I wouldn’t be able to do it. Kathy Klink, Brandon Saurber, Mayor Moeller, City Council, the police department, everybody. They’ve all been so supportive of what Art in the Park does.”

The second annual 17Strong Hamilton Neighborhood Summit was held at Hamilton High School and aimed to support community members who want to play a larger role in their neighborhood through the two mottos: “How Do You Do” and “We is greater than Me.”

17Strong’s Board Chair Kathleen Klink said she was excited about the energy the more than 270-person crowd brought to Hamilton High School.

“I think there’s been a little buzz throughout the sessions today, as people are finding meaningful ways to learn ideas to take back to their neighborhood,” Klink said.

Before the sessions began, Klink accepted a $10,000 contribution to Friends of 17Strong, a fundraiser for the Summit and annual 17Strong celebration breakfast, from the Hamilton Community Foundation.

“This is how we continue to grow and be able to provide many new opportunities,” Klink said.

Credit: Hamilton Community Foundation

Credit: Hamilton Community Foundation

Hamilton Director of Neighborhoods Brandon Saurber said this year’s theme, “How Do You Do,” was meant to work as both an introduction to fellow Hamiltonians and a start to instructions on how to be better connected in Hamilton. Multiple sessions talked about how citizens can use micro-grants like Szary did to create “Art in the Park,” or how to secure funding for events in their neighborhoods.

When Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller saw what was being offered, one option stood out to him more than the others: “Dreamer to Doers: How Hamilton Flea Came to Be.”

“That’s what this is all about,” Moeller said. “Believers to doers, visionaries to doers. I believe that when I look out there, we’re all doers. We all want to do something to make this city an even greater city.”

The proceeds from the more than 270 tickets sold will go to Friends of 17Strong to fund next year’s Summit and 17Strong’s annual celebration breakfast. Klink said she has no doubt that the Summit will continue into next year because 17Strong is “becoming stronger every year.”

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