President Obama pays a visit to the West Side Market.

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If you find 28 year old manager and bartender Michael Smith behind the bar when you’re at Momocho you’re in luck. You don’t have to talk to him long to realize that not only is he friendly and welcoming, but he is also quite the character. A West Side native, he grew up and went to school in Sheffield Lake, then attended the Cleveland Institute for Medical Massage and has been working at Momocho for four years now.

Whether it was kismet or good luck, he found his current position on a Craigslist listing for a manager. “It was kind of a fluke,” he says, later stat-ing that finding his job at Momocho is one of his best memories in Ohio City. “I was broke and looking for a job and I saw a listing for a bartender and man-ager and I applied.”

Anne Tyler first started working in the service industry when she responded to a post from Momo-cho restaurant on Craigslist looking for a busser. She had recently returned to Cleveland from spending a year abroad in Korea after graduating from Ohio University. Anne used her English degree to teach English as a second language there, then spent sev-eral months traveling before returning home. After coming home without any money, she took the job at Momocho as a busser and worked her way up to being a server and bartender. A native of Lakewood, she soon became interested in living in Ohio City. For the past two years, she has been a local resident.

Have you worked at SOHO since they first opened?

SOHO opened on November 17th, just over a year ago, and I came a few weeks later. I still work at Momocho a couple of nights a week as a hostess.

How did you find out about the job at SOHO?

The West Side Market kicked off a weekend-long celebration of its Centennial birthday on Friday,
November 2nd.

That afternoon, a group of third and fourth graders from Urban Community School gathered on the balcony to lead the crowd in a chorus of “Happy Birthday.” Then they helped to blow out the candles on a cake decorated by Market vendor Cake Royale with a historic postcard of the West Side Market.

As cheers of celebration went up from the crowd, people lined up to get a piece of cake donated by
Grandma Frieda’s and Reinecher’s Bakery.

On Saturday, November 3rd, the Market closed early to get ready for the Centennial Gala. Fifteen local and national chefs and nearly 1,000 guests helped to raise $175,000 for the West Side Market Capital Fund.

High priority improvements will be targeted for the first phase of the capital campaign in 2013, including upgrading the public restrooms and repairing the coolers.

Joel and Molly Wimbiscus bought their Vic-torian home on Clinton Avenue in 2006 because they loved the old pine floors and views of Lake Erie. Yet they soon found out that the cold winds whipping off of the lake in December made the entire house whistle like a tea kettle.

“It was horrific,” says Joel Wimbiscus, who works as a Project Manager for LAND Studio. “We could have the furnace at 68 and it would be 58 in our bedroom. There was nothing between the plaster and the outside walls. We had a back room on the first floor, but we couldn’t use it four to five months out of the year.”

It’s hard not to notice the attractive bike racks that have been popping
up around Ohio City lately. Much more than simply utilitarian places to hitch your ride, these racks are at once urban sculptures and retail signage for local businesses. They were designed by Rust Belt Welding, two Cleveland entrepreneurs who are making a living doing what they love.

“We wanted to do creative, bicycle-related projects, and we knew there was a need for more bike racks because we’d ride around town and say, ‘I wish there was one here,’” says Grant Smrekar, who created Rust Belt Welding with his friend Lou Erste four years ago in order to build bike frames, something that remains the core of their business. “We wanted there to be an artistic quality to these projects, and for the bike racks to represent the place they’re at.”

As a member of the Ohio City Neighborhood, the Saint Ignatius High School community is committed to one simple and positive action: building relationships. By getting to know the neighborhood residents, Saint Ignatius students’ life experiences are enriched through meeting people from many different backgrounds. One service initiative in particular that helps create such relationships is the Saint Bernard Movers. One of more than 20 initiatives of the Christian Action Team (CAT), Saint Bernard Movers assist neighbors, friends of the Labre Ministry to the Homeless in transition, and others identified through partnership agencies by coordinating pick ups and drop offs of donated furniture and other items.

If you’ve seen the striking new mural that overlooks Market Square Park, you’ve probably noticed the beautifully detailed images of weathered hands engaged in activities.

Yet what you probably didn’t know is that the hands were inspired by people who live and work in Ohio City. Artist Augustina Droze of Buffalo, New York spent a month in the neighborhood, photographing the hands of workers at the West Side Market and other locations and painstakingly recreating them.

Droze’s mural, which is entitled “By Hand,” depicts pairs of hands in various states of activity – holding barley used to make beer, fixing a bike, working on metal and pulling beets from a garden.

The artwork is an homage to the many talented artisans who make Ohio City what it is today. It celebrates the community’s past and looks to its future.

Inside of the stout brick building that once lent power to Ohio City’s trolley cars, a bold gallery is taking shape that will provide crackling new energy to the west side’s art scene.

When it opens in February, The Transformer Station will house the col-lection of nationally-known art collec-tors Fred and Laura Bidwell. It will also incorporate rotating exhibitions of con-temporary art jointly curated by the Bidwells and the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Bidwell was first drawn to Ohio City by the building’s unique architecture and the collection of cutting-edge artistic venues that are a stone’s throw away. “We wanted to break down barri-ers between the east and west side,” he says, citing the presence of SPACES, the Intermuseum Conservation Association (ICA), Cleveland Public Theatre and even the Happy Dog within the area.

For five years running, engaged neighbors on West 47th Street in Ohio City have hosted “Miracle on 47th Street,” an event that builds friendships among residents, attracts visitors from across the city and shares the magic of the season with children.   

Last year, over 300 children had the chance to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, pet Lola the “reindeer” (a greyhound with antlers) and enjoy hot chocolate and gifts by the warm fire.  

Yet it hasn’t always been this festive and friendly on West 47th Street. Fourteen-year resident Marcia Nolan remem-bers a time when prostitutes,drug dealers and criminal activity ran rampant. Most residents didn’t know their neighbors, and they often didn’t bother calling the cops

The trees along Franklin Hill are now barren of leaves, unveiling stunning views of the Flats and downtown Cleveland in its entire industrial splendor. Yet in the high-tunnel hoop houses that now dot the Ohio City Farm, the green shoots are just coming up.

The six new hoop houses at the farm, located on six acres behind the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority’s Riverview Tower at West 25th and Franklin will facilitate the growth of crops such as lettuce, carrots and beets all winter long.

“It’s really nice to harvest fresh, leafy greens when there’s snow on the ground,” says Kelly Powers with Cleveland Crops, a partnership between the Cuyahoga Board of Developmental Disabilities and SAW Inc. that maintains one acre at the farm.

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