Thanks to ride leader Kathleen Koechlin for a fantastic experience and this write-up!
On the eve of the 15th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 tragedy, 34 cyclists set out to honor those people and things that exemplify resilience. To get to our first stop, the Somali Community Association of Ohio (SCAO), we climbed what the ride leader, Kathleen Koechlin, likes to call the “super-secret trail” which links the Alum Creek trail with the neighborhood of North Linden. It was a challenging uphill climb, but it is a good trail to know if you ever want to commute to Easton or anywhere along the Alum Creek Trail from the Clintonville or North Linden neighborhoods. When we arrived at the first stop, our speaker was nowhere to be found, so Kathleen talked with the group about the meaning of the word “resilience” and why the SCAO was included in the ride. She also provided some details about the Somali population in Columbus and the life that they had fled.
Next we headed north to Westerville’s First Responder Park where we were met by Tom Ullom, retired firefighter and founder of the park. He had set up an amazing display of 9/11 artifacts which included photos of all the firefighters lost on that horrific day 15 years ago. Tom described his friend and inspiration for the park, fallen firefighter Dave Theisen whose memory is honored at this site with a sculpture called "The Crossing", designed by Steve Geddes and Bob Moore. He then gave the account of how the piece of World Trade Center (WTC) Steel, known as C-40, came to find a home in Westerville. You can hear his full presentation here.
We wound our way through the beautiful streets of Westerville to reach our third and final stop, Inniswood Metro Gardens. There, Cindy Maravich, Senior Environmental Educator, took us into the gardens to sit in a beautiful shaded area outside of what used to be Grace and Mary Innis’s home. She told the story of the sisters who left their home and grounds to the Columbus Metro Parks upon their deaths. She talked about the resiliency of some of the insects and plants in the park and told of the types of wildlife one might see when walking the nearly 2 miles of trails. She even gave us stickers!
Finally, we headed back to Easton through the neighborhood known as Strawberry Farms, another good discovery for getting around this area of town by bicycle. The spirit was lite, even as we ended our 22 mile, somewhat hilly ride. It was a great day!