Passion Project: Make Goebel Great

I've been working with my local community since the beginning of the year on a passion project. It's called Make Goebel Great and we're trying to take a long-neglected park in an urban area and turn it into a masterpiece filled with greenery, community and vibrancy. A lot has happened in a few short months and I wanted to make sure you all could read what Emily Wolff wrote here. She detailed more specifics about this first year of the project. I'm going to talk about my personal take and experience on it thus far.

make goebel great


When I developed this, I had already put a ton of research into a related project I started in 2011 when I knew I was going to move my life to MainStrasse Village. This research I had already done (I will share about it sometime in the future) was of such use it saved me a TON of time I normally put into identity work at the outset. It was mostly just a matter of application.

See the word MAKE highlighted in red, GO highlighted in blue and EAT highlighted in yellow? I wanted an identity that said what we were (Make Goebel Great) and expanded upon the mission. See, the name of our project (named by Emily Wolff) is also the essence of our Make Goebel Park Great. Well, the question I asked myself was "How can I take that further, visually?" 

I reached out to a few folks who work with community development and placemaking in NYC and Mexico City that I knew from my typeface design world and they gave me some great information about HOW to get a neglected park to become a vibrant heartbeat

I looked at the words MAKE GOEBEL GREAT and I saw it, literally: MAKE GOEBEL GREAT.


See, if we can get people to GO to the park more often, that's half the job. A park is only a heartbeat if there's blood running through its veins. 

I started working on the GO part personally with a program we started last summer called Yoga in the Village (free yoga 2x a week in Goebel Park and at 6th and Main St.).

There's a pump track there now from Riding Forward, the Urban Basin Bicycle Club chose Goebel Park as its destination on one of the Tuesday bike rides and we've seen more walkers and runners using the park space too.

Not to mention the concert Make Goebel Great hosted, the COV200 Impact, so much.

The Make part is important too: we want people to go to the park to make art (and we have: there's a permanent mural that was installed, and we've seen plein air painters hanging out in the park making art). 

That's another important piece, the community weaving that has happened around this project.

The Eat part is easy. So much of the culture here in MainStrasse Village revolves around eating and drinking. We just want to engage the park space in that way. I had a picnic in the park when the PawRade was happening this autumn and I've seen folks on lunch breaks on warm days enjoying a sunny picnic table. 

covington kentucky


A project like this is no joke and not for the faint of heart.  Emily Wolff definitely has carried the brunt of the organizational/planning/get-it-done-stuff on her shoulders.....being the point person—the center of the tapestry—is crazy. I don't know how she did what she did this summer. 

I've noticed in my work with non profits over the years that the projects that are successes are the ones that are built like a tapestry. I've been watching MGG develop and see that we are, in fact, a tapestry. Let me explain. 

A project meant for community consumption is not successful by just a group of people doing it and knocking it out. Maybe temporarily, but long-term—no. You have to start weaving your project together with OTHER groups and other people. Each group and each person you connect with becomes another thread in the tapestry. And, each of those connections and new people add different colors and textures to your tapestry. 

The MainStrasse Village Association Foundation (a non profit organization) now houses Make Goebel Great within it and is one of its main projects. MGG is now woven together with the Village Foundation. This Foundation has been a huge help and connected us more directly to MainStrasse Village.

The City of Covington has been responsive and great to work with. I have often thought that if I worked for the city and I had this group of people that came out of nowhere, all the sudden obsessed with Goebel Park and wanting to fix it up, I would probably be like "OH MY GOD, I AM BUSY, GO AWAY." Because we all have essentially created an extra demand on the time of the city....we needed help with more trash pickup, and painting, and permitting, and 'can you come and look at this' and 'can we do this.' Wow, they have just been great. Not only that, many people from the City offices come to all of our events and volunteer OUTSIDE OF what they already are doing as City employees. On their own time. They are quite a big piece of the MGG tapestry. 

The Covington Police Department has provided additional assistance to the park too and it has made a difference. We see patrol cars there more often, and citizens have started to call the police when they see something is going on at the park that might not be OK. They are there more. They are threads in the tapestry. 

We've had local businesses step up to help Goebel Park blossom. Piper's Cafe, for example, has offered free ice cream and water to all volunteers at any of our work days. Wertheim's has offered use of its bathrooms on volunteer days. Those may seem like small things, but they are not. They are woven into the tapestry.

COV200 selected MGG as one of 4 sites for its October Impact Day. They are part of the tapestry.

Local photographers have also started using the park more for photo shoots. I've seen photos of bridal parties crammed into the newly-painted gazebo popping up on my Facebook feed and it makes me so incredibly happy. 

I really can't even talk about the people because there are so many....hundreds. People that came to our fundraising concert, that volunteer, that go and use the park. The people are what matter, and the people are Making, Going and Eating at Goebel Park.

MGG has made tremendous progress. Our tapestry is becoming lovelier by the day. I've enjoyed watching it grow, helping where I can and observing the connections that are being strengthened to this greenspace. 

Here's to 2015 where work will continue!




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