We have been holding a long conversation for a few months now. He sent me his book that he wrote and I was very surprised to find out that he is a past convicted criminal.
I am reading his book and I have to admit that I can't read it for a long period of time because it sparks such passion in me. I get angry and want to do something to change the way things are.
This man Mansfield is articulate, smart and compassionate. He is a bear of a man and you can't help feeling comfortable around him as he has a warm welcoming charm or charmisa that he has sharpened over his 68 years.
Yesterday I went down to East 66th and Hough to see Mansfields vineyard. Yes, I said that right, vineyard in the middle of Hough!! I haven't ever been to the Hough neighborhood. All I remember about Hough was when I was six years old there were terrible riots and people got hurt and killed all protesting for equal rights. As a little girl the message that I had in my head was don't ever go there.
I was surprised to see so many new homes with beautiful landscapes. Here, Mansfield used to be a part of building homes in this area. He himself lives right across the street from the vineyard in a very nice newer home. I was not surprised to see all the vacant property and vacant buildings.
Mansfield is looking at the opportunity here. He worked with Cleveland Land bank to start his vineyard. He got the land from them and some seed money to get started. He also has the community involved. He is teaching kids in the area how to farm. He wants this movement to continue with his goal being a winery right across the street from the Cleveland Clinic and next to their new projected 10 million dollar hotel.
He wants this all to be a community centered enterprise. Giving the people in the area a chance to learn and work with in the development. He is looking for organic inner city farmers and has a few bio domes planned with the help of some philantrophic donations. All this will be a community based learning and work opportunity center. This is giving the people in his community hope and a postive direction with a fantasic goal.
This started with one little city plot. He calls it The Vineyards of Chateau Hough. Come on you have got to love this! He is looking for sponsors to donate $1000.00 to sponsor one of the 18 rows of grapevines. This money will go toward the funds to help pay the neighborhood kids that are farming it. He is also putting together teaching center on how to grow a vineyard. Yes it is a write off this is a bonafide charity! The sponsors will get a spot to advertise their company and will get all the publicity Mansfield can throw their way.
When I met Mansfield yesterday we stood on the corner of Hough and East 66th under his big umbrella in the rain and talked about what his goals are. I was so enthused I asked to be a part of it.