Westerville Magazine March/April 2024

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Little Readers, Big Adventures American Dreamers How’s the Weather? Sustainable Staples Global Gardening www.westervillemagazine.com
Kiddie Cruisers Bringing joy to kids
4 March/April 2024 www.westervillemagazine.com In every issue 6 Community Calendar 8 Faces 12 In Focus 20 Student Spotlight 22 Living 28 On the Table 30 Bookmarks Westerville homes 26 Luxury Living Real Estate Guide 27 Top Homes Sold in Westerville Inside MARCH/APRIL 2024 16 8 20 A Passion for Reading How’s the Weather? CONNIE@CONNIESADOWSKI.COM 22 Staples of Sustainability Cover photo by Sarah Whaley Donating motorized vehicles to kids in need up Hope


Westerville magazine

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March/April 2024 5


Stephen R Malik, DDS –General Dentistry–Dr. Malik has more than 30 years of experience.

March 1

American Red Cross: Blood Drive

10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Westerville Public Library 126 S. State St. www.westervillelibrary.org

March 2

Uptown Cookie Walk Noon-4 p.m.

Uptown Westerville www.uptownwestervilleinc.com

March 2-April 27

Meal Pack for Families in Need

10-11 a.m.

Lifeline Christian Mission 921 Eastwind Dr., Ste. 118 www.westervillechamber.com

March 7-9

Ohio Inter-Regional Freddy Ball Noon-11 p.m.

Renaissance Columbus Westerville-Polaris Hotel

409 Altair Pkwy. www.fredastaire.com

March 7-28

Catch Salsa Fever with Beginner Salsa Dance Lessons

Thursdays, 7:30-8:15 p.m.

Oakstone Academy

939 S. State St. www.talkinbody.com

March 8

Columbus Symphony Quartet

10:30-11:30 a.m.

Westerville Public Library 126 S. State St. www.westervillelibrary.org

March 12

Quarterly Luncheon Westerville Spotlight with Monica Dupee, City Manager 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

The Golf Club at Little Turtle

5400 Little Turtle Way W. www.westervillechamber.com

March 15

State of the Region

11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Hilton Columbus Downtown 402 N. High St. www.morpc.org

March 16

Pop-up Pickers Club Vintage, Makers Market

11 a.m.-5 p.m.

The Point at Otterbein University 60 Collegeview Rd. www.visitwesterville.org

March 19

Wines & Vines

5:30-7:30 p.m.

Good Vibes Winery 2 S. State St. www.westervillechamber.com

March 21

Artist Social with Sonya Yencer 5-7:30 p.m.

Andy’s Frame Setting

250 N. State St. www.andysframesetting.com

6 March/April 2024 www.westervillemagazine.com MARK YOUR CALENDAR!
5 12 19 26 6 13 20 27 7 14 21 28 1 8 15 22 29 2 9 16 23 30 3 10 17 24 31 4 11 18 25 SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT 2024 Dates and events are subject to change. Check with event organizers before attending.
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March 21

Business After Hours

5:30-7:30 p.m.

Status Solutions

999 County Line Rd W., Ste. A www.westervillechamber.com

March 23

My Little & Me Book Club

2-3 p.m.

Westerville Public Library 126 S. State St. www.westervillelibrary.org

March 25-29

Westerville City Schools Spring Break www.westerville.k12.oh.us

March 30

Columbus Small Business Expo

11 a.m.-6 p.m.

The Point at Otterbein University 60 Collegeview Rd. www.columbusbexpo.com

March 30

Drop-in Solar Eclipse Celebration

2-4 p.m.

Westerville Public Library 126 S. State St. www.westervillelibrary.org

April 4-13

Otterbein University Theatre presents 9 to 5: The Musical Fritsche Theatre at Cowan Hall 30 S. Grove St. www.otterbein.edu

April 8

2024 Solar Eclipse

All day

Westerville Public Library 126 S. State St. www.westervillelibrary.org

April 10

Private Dinner with Author Mary Roach

5-6 p.m.

Asterisk Supper Club 14 N. State St. www.westervillelibrary.org

April 16

Multicultural Business Expo

5-7 p.m.

COhatch Polaris

1554 Polaris Pkwy., Ste. 325, Columbus www.westervillechamber.com


April 18

Business After Hours

5:30-7:30 p.m.

Evans Farms - 3 Pillar Theodore Model Home 5609 Evans Farms Dr., Lewis Center www.westervillechamber.com

April 19

Flights & Bites @ Westerville Market District 5-8 p.m.

Market District

650 N. State St. www.marketdistrict.com

April 20

Leadership Westerville Service Day

8:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

Blendon Middle School 223 S. Otterbein Ave. www.westervillechamber.com

April 21

Westerville Symphony presents Masterworks III: A Ron Lykins Concert Series Performance

5 p.m.

Fritsche Theatre at Cowan Hall 30 S. Grove St. www.westervillesymphony.org

April 27

Capital City Half & Quarter Marathon 160 S. High St., Columbus www.capitalcityhalfmarathon.com

March/April 2024 7
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Private Dinner with Author Mary RoachAsterisk Supper Club

Little Readers, Big Adventures

Youth librarian encourages children to fall in love with reading

8 March/April 2024 www.westervillemagazine.com
faces By Rachel Karas Photos by Rachel Karas and Robintek Photography

Some people say they knew from a young age what they wanted to be when they grew up, but that wasn’t the case for Liz Dillman.

Though those around her recognized her love of reading and books when she was a child, Dillman would not make the connection until she had graduated college.

Today, she is one of the youth services librarians at Westerville Public Library. Dillman loves coming to work every day and seeing the faces of children and adults light up when they discover all the library has to offer.

Finding Her Calling

Dillman grew up as an only child in the Chicago suburb of Western Springs and has been visiting libraries since her mother started taking her to baby storytimes.

As a child, Dillman read books with her father and participated in the summer reading program at her local library, eventually finding herself spending a lot of time there.

“I have always been a library person,” Dillman says. “After school, I would just hang out at the library, and then I became a teen volunteer, so if you look at the trajectory, it’s like, ‘Oh, this makes sense.’ I didn’t see it at the time, but it made sense.”

She went on to study sociology at Boston College, where she met her husband, Casey, who was studying engineering.

Unsure of where she wanted to take her career, Dillman moved back home after graduating and got two part-time jobs: one at a library and another at a local bookstore. While she was working at the library, her manager recommended she look into pursuing a master’s degree in library and information sciences.

That advice stayed with her when she moved to Columbus due to her husband’s career, and she finally decided to try it.

Diving headfirst into her studies, Dillman worked part-time at a library around her schedule of virtual classes and graduated with her master’s from Kent State University in December 2019.

After spending some time working at a library in Marysville during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dillman joined the Westerville Public Library staff in 2021.

March/April 2024 9 www.westervillemagazine.com
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Fun Fact!

When Liz Dillman isn’t in the library or reading a book, she loves collecting rubber ducks. Her collection, which has at least 300 ducks, includes a wide array of designs and colors, including some reading-related ones.

Childhood Wonder

Although she enjoys working with people of all ages, Dillman feels a special connection with kids and loves seeing their reactions when she talks to them about a topic they love.

“I read teen books, kids’ books, picture books,” Dillman says. “I read those books

and they’re like, ‘Oh, an adult that chooses to do this? Awesome! They know what I’m actually talking about!’”

Over time, Dillman has been able to build on those connections thanks to the programs the library offers, including the Homework Help Center and Imagination Station, as well as visits to Westerville City Schools.

“When we do those classroom visits throughout the year, I get to know some of those kids,” she says. “Whittier Elementary School is one I’ve gone to a few times now. It’s very easy for those kids to literally walk here after school and be like, ‘You just came to my classroom, can you get me that book? Where’s that book that you just talked about?’”

One of Dillman’s favorite programs to coordinate is the month-long Wizards & Wands Festival. She refers to it as “a celebration of all things fantasy and magic,” with themed missions and performances for kids and adults.

Over the years, the festival has brought in groups such as Midwest Falconry and COSI to give demonstrations and interactive learning experiences. Dillman hopes the hands-on lessons will stick with participants for years to come.

“It’s seeing stuff that they can learn about in the library … come to life,” Dillman says. “Just seeing all of their fantasy worlds that they may read about in books as well literally come to life.”

Investing in the Future

While she is excited to see what she can do next, Dillman appreciates the support and encouragement she has gotten from her team and the leadership at Westerville Library.

“I love it here at Westerville. It’s the library that always says, ‘Oh yeah, we’ll figure out how to do that,’” she says. “Wizards & Wands is the biggest example of ‘Oh, we’ll figure it out. We have a dragon on our roof.’”

Dillman hopes to continue expanding the programs and events offered through the library – especially in areas related to science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) – to offer even more unique learning experiences through attractions such as robots.

No matter where the future takes Dillman and the Westerville Library, she hopes the energy and excitement kids have when they walk through those doors will never change.

“Here, kids get to make a lot of choices for themselves,” she says. “They get to choose what they get to read and what they do in the library. They can be on a computer playing Minecraft. They could be playing an imaginary game. They could be just coloring. They could be doing whatever. This becomes more their space and kids don’t have a lot of spaces that they get to claim as their own. ”

Rachel Karas is an editor at CityScene Media Group. Feedback welcome at rkaras@cityscenmediagroup.com.

10 March/April 2024 www.westervillemagazine.com
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Real objects. Real stories.




The Diverse Voices of American Dreamers

Central H.S. and Otterbein University team up to showcase students of immigrant families

As an immigrant from Peru who has lived in numerous countries, Pablo Chignolli was inspired to create a project telling the stories of individuals with diverse backgrounds at Westerville Central High School.

Chignolli, a Spanish teacher at Central, worked with English for Speakers of Other Languages program (ESOL) teacher Deb Jones to recruit students for the memoir project titled “THE ONES AMONG US, Memoirs of Diverse High School Students in America.”

“In the last couple of years working as a teacher at Westerville Central, I have seen an increased number of students from diverse cultural backgrounds attending our school,” Chignolli says. “Because of that,

as an immigrant and member of a minority group in this country, I created this book project … to provide diverse students with an opportunity to express their voices.”

A Tale of Their Own

Chignolli and Jones recruited 20 sophomores and juniors – eight boys and 12 girls – who originate from 14 different countries including Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Rwanda, Ukraine and the U.S. as subjects for the project.

To write their narratives, students were asked to answer about 90 questions about everything from their favorite phrase in their native language to their school memo-

ries, their transition to life in the U.S. and their American Dream, after which the information was formatted into a story.

“In some cases, I translated from and to English, Spanish and Portuguese. Many hours of work went into this project: writing, constantly reviewing the work, meetings, working out logistics, presentations, printing, traveling and communicating with different people throughout the community,” Chignolli says. “As complex as this process has been, it has been very nice getting to know the students and to read about them.”

The memoir project is not only about telling the students’ stories but also, about highlighting the rich diversity that defines the American high school experience.

12 March/April 2024 www.westervillemagazine.com in focus
The students of Central and Otterbein alongside Chignolli and Captein

Chignolli plans to publish the book so current and future Westerville educators will receive a copy and feel encouraged to reflect on the importance of open cultural conversations and creating a more inclusive education system. He is also connecting with The Ohio State University to bring the project to immigration courses and encourage more students to tell their stories.

Chignolli’s project was supported by a grant from the Westerville Educators Foundation, and through the City of Westerville, he was able to partner with Louise Captein, an associate professor in Otterbein University’s art department and an immigrant from the Netherlands. Captein recruited her students to create portraits of the high schoolers in the artistic style of former President George W. Bush’s book, Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants, written about the lives of immigrants in pursuit of the American Dream.

In January, a gallery showcasing the Otterbein students’ hand-crafted portraits of the immigrant students opened at Taylor Lounge in Otterbein’s Campus Center. This event allowed some of the Central

students to see their portraits for the first time. The portraits are now on display in Central, where they premiered for the school’s Culture Day on Feb. 29.

Meet the Students

Two of the students involved in the project, Ihor Cherednichenko and Akriti Kami, shared their stories.

Cherednichenko is from Kyiv, Ukraine. He moved to Westerville with his mother, brother, aunt and grandparents from Ukraine in 2022, searching for a better life during the ongoing war with Russia. His father and other family members remain in Ukraine.

He has embraced American traditions, including holidays, and is passionate about

March/April 2024 13 www.westervillemagazine.com
Akriti Kami with her artist, Emily Rogers, and parents, Gopal and Naina
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Portraits of Alejandro, Luana, Shaid, Kevin and Denia

remembering his Ukrainian culture. His mother emphasizes the importance of not forgetting his native languages, Russian and Ukrainian, or holidays such as Bacha and St. Nicholas Day.

“I am a proud Ukrainian,” Cherednichenko says. “We have a strong tradition of folk art, and our culture is strongly influenced by Ukrainian Greek Catholicism and traditions from Slavic mythology.”

He also loves fencing, and has been training in it for nine years. He started at

age 7 and has acquired the highest ranks in both the United States (“A” rank) and Ukraine (“Master” rank).

He has competed internationally, taking first place in a competition in Kyiv at 9 years old, second place in Hungary at 12 years old, third in Poland at 13 and second in Dublin, Ohio in 2022. He aspires to compete professionally one day.

Meet the Artists

Nia Horton, a senior studying art at Otterbein, painted Luana, a Central student originally from Brazil. Horton says she wanted to capture Luana’s powerful and commanding demeanor while emphasizing her love for pink and nature and also showcasing Horton’s own blocky and loud style as an artist.

Alina Baer, a junior art and journalism student at Otterbein, was similarly inspired by her assigned student.

“ ”Everyone involved in this project has a special relationship with the Westerville community. Therefore, I can say that it is a ‘Made in Westerville’ product and we are very proud of that.

Cherednichenko hopes his story helps share the experiences of people from different countries and create conversations about different holidays and traditions to embrace diversity.

Kami was born in Nepal, living in the refugee district of Jhapa with her parents and older brothers before moving to Oregon when she was 8. When she was 9, her family moved to Westerville to be closer to her uncle and cousins.

Kami was very excited to talk about her story. She wanted to express how far she has come from childhood, share the struggles she endured in Nepal and talk about the people she has connected with throughout her life. In her story, Kami writes:

“I hope that fellow students from different cultures adjusting to American schools don’t let fear control their actions. I encourage them to embrace their uniqueness, share it and trust their heart.”

Divine, originally from Rwanda, inspired Baer with her name. Baer included stars and the colors pink and purple to capture some of Divine’s favorite things and bring her energy and personality to life in the painting.

Chloe Murphy is a senior art and art history student at Otterbein. She and her student subject, Kevin, were both shy during their meeting, she says, but she wanted to highlight his bright personality and his Latin-American background using her realistic, sometimes photorealistic, style, to create Costa Rican and Mexican flags.

Jane Dimel is an editorial assistant at CityScene Media Group. Feedback is welcome at feedback@cityscenemediagroup.com

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Pablo Chignolli

up Hope

Local nonprofits unite to donate motorized vehicles to kids in need

any adults have fond childhood memories of being outside with the neighborhood kids, riding bikes, playing sports and exploring the world around them. But for children dealing with inhibited mobility, these priceless moments may feel out of reach.

This reality is what prompted local nonprofit Wheels for Aiden to provide children with age-appropriate motorized vehicles, giving them back some of their independence and allowing them to participate and play with their peers.

Now managed by Nellie’s Champions for Kids (NC4K), a nonprofit that provides services to children battling cancer and their families, Wheels for Aiden now shares resources and efforts so the two can work toward a shared goal of serving children with serious illnesses and ailments.

Aiden’s New Ride

When Aiden Welling was diagnosed with a very rare cancer known as neuroblastoma at age 4, he struggled to keep active and play with his Westerville neighborhood friends. When Halloween came around, his family hatched a plan to ensure Welling would still be able to go trick-or-treating. Because Aiden was an avid Star Wars fan, they built him his own motorized Millennium Falcon, decorated using cardboard scraps, duct tape and an empty KFC bucket.

After Aiden passed away in 2018, the Wellings’ neighbor and friend Jason Woehrle founded Wheels for Aiden in his honor.

In the beginning, Wheels for Aiden was entirely volunteer-run and relied on donations, but would often receive help with vehicle storage and family referrals from NC4K. After realizing NC4K was invested in Wheels for Aiden’s mission and that the two organizations could have a greater impact working together, they decided to join forces. In November 2023, Wheels for Aiden was officially absorbed by NC4K.

“They approached us about transitioning all their services to be under our um-

16 March/April 2024 www.westervillemagazine.com
Photos courtesy of Katie Bricker, Mandy Powell, Jason Woehrle and Jennifer Wuersig Aiden Welling’s Millennium Falcon – the original Wheels for Aiden.

brella of care and I can’t express enough what an honor and privilege it is to be able to carry that torch forward and honor Aiden and his family, as well as the work Jason put in as a neighbor and as a friend of the family to really commemorate the friendship that Aiden had with his kids and other neighborhood kids,” says Mandy Powell, executive director at NC4K.

Blake’s Journey

When Westerville mom and elementary school teacher Jennifer Wuersig’s son Blake was diagnosed with leukemia as a toddler, her whole world was turned upside down. Suddenly she was in and out of the hospital with him, monitoring his health closely and navigating through his treatments.

Blake is now 6 years old and in remission, but at the time, his illness was hard on the entire family, both finan cially and emotionally.

NC4K has been working with families like Wuersig’s since 2007 and knows exactly how to offer a helping hand with issues that arise when a child is diag nosed with cancer.

With the help of the organization, Wuersig got access to free school sup plies, clothes and toys for Blake and his two siblings, as well as tickets to attend outings and activities such as sporting events for free. NC4K also hosted holiday celebrations and special events offering the kids a space where they could

Myla Blake

forget about their illnesses, at least for a moment, and just be kids.

“They offer you a fun event for your family where you can just relax and not think about all the other stuff you’re dealing with,” Wuersig says. “You can just have fun together as a family, and those are things that you might not be able to afford when you’re paying a million medical bills. (NC4K) would give us a break sometimes.”

In addition to the assistance provided through NC4K, Blake was also able to receive his own motorized vehicle through Wheels for Aiden. The organization worked with Wuersig directly to get Blake exactly what he wanted while making sure it was the right fit for a child his age.

“His favorite color was green and, since he was 3, we talked about how he can’t actually drive the thing, he’ll probably crash it, so they got us one where the parent can walk behind with the remote,” Wuersig says. “They said, ‘Look at Amazon, you’ll know your dream (vehicle) and we’ll tell you if we can make that happen.’”

With the help of his new green tractor truck, Blake could keep up with his two older siblings riding their bikes and scooters on their neighborhood street.

“Giving them a motorized vehicle so that they can run around the cul-de-sac … keeping up when, otherwise, they might be limited because of the effects of treatment on their body – that idea of being a normal kid, being a normal family, having fun, not letting cancer divide that – that’s such an important part of this entire process,” Powell says. “I think it’s critical to their overall care and how they manage the long-term nature of a childhood cancer diagnosis.”

One of the hardest challenges for the Wuersig family was navigating life for their other two children. Because Blake was immunocompromised, his siblings could not invite friends over and were often away from one or both parents when they had to tend to Blake’s health. This is a common problem for the families NC4K works with so the organization works to make sure the siblings are also happy and cared for during the family’s difficult time.

“A lot of times it was like, ‘Blake gets this and gets that’ and ‘He gets all this attention,’ and so it’s really cool that all the activities (NC4K) do, they invite the whole family and they let the siblings kind of get the same things,” Wuersig says. “That makes them feel a little more included.”

Maisie Fitzmaurice is an editor at CityScene Media Group. Feedback welcome at mfitzmaurice@cityscenemediagroup.com.

18 March/April 2024 www.westervillemagazine.com
For more information on NC4K and Wheels for Aiden, visit www.nc4k.org.
Find a map of public art in Cbus at ColumbusMakesArt.com Download the ARTWALKS app.
NC4K hosts fun events and school supply drives for families of kids fighting cancer.
Columbus Makes Art is a project of: RECIPIENT OF A GCAC MURAL ASSISTANCE GRANT: Read and Bloom by Arris J. Cohen
March/April 2024 19 www.westervillemagazine.com

Wonderful Weather We’re Having

Genoa teachers develop an enhanced weather learning unit

For years, Genoa Middle School and its teachers have been implementing a learning unit dedicated to weather and climate. The format for the curriculum has always been the same until this year, when teachers Debbie Pellington and Julie McSwords decided to revamp the unit.

Instead of the usual notetaking and unit tests, Pellington and McSwords decided to take a more problem-solving-based approach to students’ learning.

The teachers started the unit by having the students discover the most efficient route from Columbus to Seattle using a solar-powered car. Students had to consider and navigate through natural obstacles such as humidity, temperature, cloud coverage and rain.

“They were learning by doing instead of learning then doing,” McSwords says.

Next, the teachers planned an escape room activity that helps students become

competent in “Portrait of a Graduate” skills, which include problem-solving, critical thinking, adaptability, communication, collaboration and social-emotional learning. These skill goals guided Pellington

and McSwords as they created a fun and engaging environment for learning about the weather.

The students found that the escape room activity allowed them to learn about

20 March/April 2024 www.westervillemagazine.com
Photos courtesy of Debbie Pellington WCMH-TV meteorologist Ben Gelber demonstrates how to create a weather report. From left: Ben Gelber, Debbie Pellington and Julie McSwords.

more than just the weather. They were also able to work on essential skills that will translate into all their academic pursuits.

“At some points, it was challenging, but you’ve got to work with your partner to figure things out because, if you didn’t, it would be harder and almost impossible to figure out,” says seventh-grade student Tyler Messemer. “The teamwork aspect of this definitely helps with cooperation and social skills.”

Sixth-grader Jasper White says the escape room experience helped him think outside of the box.

“I’ve learned stuff in the past about the weather, like in fifth grade, but the way they taught us, or by us doing it that way, the experience made it stick and more beneficial for me to learn,” White says.

After the escape room, the teachers brought in WCMH-TV meteorologist Ben Gelber to help the students create their own meteorologist report, which included filming a mock weather forecast of their findings.

“The ending video, in my opinion, was the most fun. … We had Ben Gelber come in and it was like ‘Wow, this is hard to do in front of two people, imagine doing this in front of thousands of people watching this every morning,’” White says. “It was fun to put it in our own words, edit the video back and see our presentation skills.”

Messemer says learning about the weather gave him crucial knowledge and weather-predicting skills that he will be using in his “everyday life,” which is exactly what Pellington and McSwords aimed to do with the changes they implemented to the unit.

“We are trying to equip the student with life skills that they can use not only at school and in their learning, but outside of school as they grow into the changing times,” Pellington says.

The weather unit was enjoyable for the teachers and students alike, with this unique approach to learning creating the perfect environment for the students to have fun and learn new information.

“That’s what makes it worthwhile to me: to see them come into class with a smile on their face, ready to be engaged,” McSwords says.

Cailyn Burr is an editorial assistant at CityScene Media Group. Feedback welcome at feedback@cityscenemediagroup.com

preserve the past...

to enjoy in the present

March/April 2024 21 www.westervillemagazine.com

Sowing Seeds of Sustainability

Trading traditional landscaping for native and edible curb appeal

W70 different edible plants and 11 trees strategically planted throughout their

Both Murray and Cowden have long valued environmental conservation and wanted to do their part to create a more sustainable landscape for their yard. When they purchased their home in 2020, they began plotting out gardening beds and doing research.

“What we really were looking to do is create both a native habitat with all native plants and an edible habitat of things that we can eat,” Murray says. “So that’s been our focus for the last few years.”

The gardening and landscaping are done completely organically and free of fertilizers and pesticides. Murray and Cowden say they would rather create an environment suited for bugs and critters that can benefit their garden.

“I know some people are scared to attract bees, but we know it’s extremely important to the habitat,” Murray says. “Especially when you’re trying to grow food, you need those pollinators.”

22 March/April 2024 www.westervillemagazine.com
esterville homeowner Tamara Murray and her partner, Bucko Cowden, share their property with a flourishing micro-ecosystem. With more than 225 different native perennials, yard, the couple put an abundance of planning and care into maintaining their unique landscaping. Cowden prepares a new plot to plant native plants in their backyard.

Growing almost all of their produce helps Murray and Cowden reduce their carbon footprint. They don’t contribute to the greenhouse gas emissions and waste that come from packaging and transporting produce to a grocery store.Not only has the landscaping helped their environmental impact, it has also been extremely therapeutic for them, especially during the pandemic.

“I think it saved both of our sanities surviving the pandemic and having something to focus on that wasn’t the news. It just kept us active and moving and outside at a time when there just truly wasn’t anything else to do but to think about the state of the world,” Murray says. “For mental health, it was absolutely a game-changer for us.”

Cowden says gardening gives him a way to stay active and outside. Knowing the plants need to be taken care of keeps him accountable. “I’ll pop in my earbuds and put on a podcast, and it takes somewhere between an hour and a half to two hours

March/April 2024 23 www.westervillemagazine.com weekendscene SUBSCRIBE AT CITYSCENECOLUMBUS.COM WATCH, READ, EAT...WIN! BE ENTERTAINED WITH CITYSCENE PICKS MOVIES * SHOWS * BOOKS * PERFORMANCES * MUSIC * EVENTS NEW: THE WEEKLY WIN Sign up for your free subscription today and enter for prizes, gift cards and more! SCAN THE CODE AND SIGN UP TODAY! DIGITAL NEWSLETTER
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Murray holds her fennel harvest.

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to water all of the plants, especially when we’re really trying to get the veggies to produce,” Cowden says. “I’m also spending that time outside getting some vitamin D.”

Murray keeps a binder full of maps and diagrams of the yard and garden beds, notes on different plants, and more to help keep the operation organized.

Tending to the yard has also helped Murray connect and socialize with her neighbors, which she wasn’t able to do as easily in the condo where she previously lived.

“We have kids in the neighborhood that I get to stop and talk to. They normally ask me questions about what I’m doing and it’s really lovely to have it as a way to chat with people,” Murray says. “We’re really lucky that, on our street, we have a lot of active gardeners, so we’re always able to share advice, share bumper crops, walk over little bouquets of flowers to neighbors who have retired. It’s just such a lovely way to connect with people.”

What started as a couple of raised garden beds became a huge undertaking for Murray and Cowden, but that doesn’t mean they don’t reap the benefits of their hard labor.

“Being able to walk outside in the morning and pick the raspberries off the bush and eat them as they’re sun-warmed on my oatmeal, there’s really nothing more rewarding than that,” Murray says.

Maisie Fitzmaurice is an editor at CityScene Media Group. Feedback welcome at mfitzmaurice@cityscenemediagroup.com

24 March/April 2024 www.westervillemagazine.com
Murray says gardening helps her connect with her community.
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And the winner is... ‘Bus Best Best of the ‘Bus 2024    Voting opens March 15! Choose Columbus’ best arts, entertainment, food and events Vote for the best March 15-April 15 See the winners in the July CityScene cityscenecolumbus.com YEARS

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26 March/April 2024 www.westervillemagazine.com Call today for more information: 614-572-1240 what’s your style?
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Top Homes Sold in Westerville

In December 2023, Westerville home prices climbed up by 4.3% compared to this time last year, with an average sale price of $387K. On average, homes in Westerville sold within 38 days on the market, which is the same rate as last December. There were 30 homes sold in December this year and last year. The average price per square foot of a Westerville home is $198, 20.4% more than last year at this time. (Data from Redfin)

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March/April 2024 27 www.westervillemagazine.com
All information is collected from the Franklin County Auditor Office.
• • • • Todd Stone, Realtor 614-397-1231toddstonerealtor@gmail.com Let’s Get Moving! Call today to get your FREE consultation.

Perennial Fellowship

Ukrainian Cultural Association of Ohio takes on gardening

Don’t be surprised if you see a Ukrainian flag sticking out of one of the Otterbein Community Garden plots. With the garden segmented into plots for students, staff and local organizations to grow their choice of produce, the Ukrainian Cultural Association of Ohio (UCAO) proudly houses its yearly harvest in one of these plots.

The UCAO plot opens up a world of gardening in which members of the association come to share, embrace and honor their Ukrainian heritage with one another. Together, UCAO members fill the plot with vegetables that bring the flavors of Ukraine to Westerville.

“I’ve tried to grow things that reminded me of my Ukrainian grandmother. So I did cucumbers and dill, just some easy things that I could potentially pickle,” says UCAO member Megan Chawansky, an assistant professor of sport management at Otterbein University.

UCAO plot members also grow rhubarb, lettuce, tomatoes and arugula. Gardeners also grow perennials to settle into the plot and select crops they can return to in later seasons. The community garden plot enables each UCAO member to garden in their own way with plants of their choice, regardless of prior gardening experience, and offers water and tools for those who need them.

People living or working in and around the Westerville and Otterbein communities can get to know one another through the community garden.

“The Ukrainian Cultural Association plot inside of the garden is an example of a unique organization having a hub of garden enthusiasts being connected together and, at the same time, with other community organizations in the area,” says Michael Litvinovich, UCAO garden leader.

By dedicating their time to the garden, the UCAO members recognize the value of honoring and sharing their Ukrainian heritage. Even the act of having garden signs written in Ukrainian raises awareness of their culture and, in turn, the crisis in Ukraine.

“I think this was a nice respite for some of us,” says Chawansky. “… We don’t forget about the people, the relatives and the friends we have (in Ukraine) that are dealing with these realities, but you need to be able to balance that with some of the joys.”

UCAO aims to expand its plot for a bigger harvest in the coming seasons. The UCAO welcomes individuals from all backgrounds to join their community and garden, regardless of whether they have Ukrainian heritage.

Mary Nader is an editorial assistant at CityScene Media Group. Feedback welcome at feedback@cityscenemediagroup.com.

28 March/April 2024 www.westervillemagazine.com
on the table
Photos courtesy of Megan Chawansky Members of the UCAO design signage for crops. A sign that reads “dill” in Ukrainian. The Ukrainian flag flies in the UCAO’s garden plot.


As you find yourself stuck in the everchanging Ohio weather, Borscht is an easy, sour soup that can be served hot or cold. This meatless take on traditional Ukrainian borscht is the perfect quick and easy way to utilize your garden produce.

• 3 medium beets, peeled and grated

• 4 Tbsp. olive oil

• 8 cups chicken broth

• 2 cups water

• 3 medium Yukon potatoes, peeled

• 2 carrots, peeled and sliced

• 2 celery ribs, finely chopped

• 1 medium onion, finely chopped

• 4 Tbsp. ketchup or 3 Tbsp. tomato sauce

• 1 can of white cannellini beans (undrained)

• 2-3 Tbsp. white vinegar

• 2 bay leaves

• 1 large garlic clove

• 3 Tbsp. chopped dill

• Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large soup pot over mediumhigh heat and add 2 Tbsp. of oil. Add beets and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add broth, water, potatoes and carrots. Cook until vegetables become soft, about 10-15 minutes.

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 Tbsp. of oil. Add onion and celery, stirring occasionally until softened. Add 4 Tbsp. of ketchup or 3 Tbsp. of tomato sauce and stir fry for 30 seconds.

Combine the contents of the skillet with the pot. Add 1 can of white cannellini beans, 2-3 Tbsp. of white vinegar, 2 bay leaves, 1 large garlic clove and 3 Tbsp. of chopped dill. Taste and add additional seasoning as needed. Serve hot or cold.

Recipe courtesy of Natasha Kravchuk. www.natashaskitchen.com

March/April 2024 29 www.westervillemagazine.com
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From the Westerville Public Library



The Me I Choose to Be

For online library resources such as ebooks, digital magazines, kids activities and more, visit www.westervillelibrary.org


from Katie Ross, Youth Services Librarian

struggles to find an idea, she discovers that many small contributions can make a big impact.

Tarpley’s lyrical and rhythmic text coupled with beautiful photographs of children reminds each of us of the unlimited potential within. This is a great book to engage children in a conversation about what makes them strong and resilient.

Earth Day

In this book, part of the Robin Hill School series, Emma’s first-grade class is planning to celebrate Earth Day. While Emma

Hello, Crochet Friends


In this biography, Jonah Larson recounts his adoption from Ethiopia and how crochet became his creative outlet. When Jonah was having problems at school, his fifth-grade teacher offered him a chance to channel his energy through crochet. Children may be inspired to find a creative outlet of their own. Basic crochet diagrams and a washcloth pattern are included.

Recommended Adult Reads

from Mindy Bilyeu, Adult Services Librarian

The Secret Book of Flora Lea

When a woman stumbles across a mysterious children’s book, long-held secrets about her missing sister and their childhood spent in the English countryside during World War II are revealed. In wartorn London in 1939, 14-year-old Hazel and 5-year-old Flora are evacuated to a rural village to escape the horrors of the Second World War.

The Last Lifeboat

Inspired by a true story, a young teacher evacuates children to safety across perilous waters. When a Nazi U-boat torpedoes a ship carrying children to

Canada, a single lifeboat is left adrift in the storm-tossed Atlantic. Alice and Lily, strangers to each other—one on land, the other at sea—will quickly become each another’s best hope as their lives are fatefully entwined.

The Seed Keeper

Rosalie grew up in the woods with her father who tells her stories of plants, the stars and the origins of the Dakota people. One morning, her father doesn’t return from checking his traps and Rosalie is sent to live with a foster family. Many years later, Rosalie returns to her childhood home where she begins to confront the past in a search for family, identity and a community where she can finally belong.

30 March/April 2024 www.westervillemagazine.com
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